X-Bone Was Like, Totally Gnarley Vision…

CLEARS THROAT PUTS ON BEST VALLEY GIRL IMITATION: “It’s like, OMG, I’m like liking what I was sure I would like totally wouldn’t like.”

tbodgagnon

So there I was May 21st 2013, the fallout of fecal matter from the s***storm that was the Xbox One announcement still raining down.

I was amongst the unimpressed, albeit not to a big degree as some, yet miffed enough to post the following pic on my Twitter feed.

coke

Not my best graphical work, but it got my gut feeling out.

The fact is perhaps only the old timers remember the new Coke fiasco. I was in High School at the time and remember that this move got me addicted to coffee. Now history will show that ‘Classic Coke’ was announced not 3 months after New Coke was launched. Certainly there are similarities on the original XBone launch , the backlash and 180 by execs/decision makers and what we got in the end.

However the similarities end, for me personally, on that now a nearly a year later I actually think some of the XBone retracts were things now I really wish we had. Yeah, I freaked to get rid of them a year ago… and NO I don’t feel like having a new Coke.. not since 1985 anyhow.

As a refresher, here is the 62 minute launch video

Here are some things I now have 180ed on that XBone pitched to us and we got them to reverse to varying degrees. In short, I don’t think they were bad ideas any more!

    1: IT’S AN ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM!

    This really rubbed me the wrong way. Like so many others, I thought after seeing the video that gaming was taking a backseat to TV, videos ect. I wasn’t too hopeful that the gaming jump would be that great.

    Yet here I am, the owner of a XBone and I honestly love the total package this machine does bridging gaming to TV, movies and even sound system.
    Going back and forth to home screen to tie it all in is the kicker for me. I mean outside the TV you could do it on the 360, but not swapping back and forth as smoothly as the XBone does it.

    Also with the Blue Ray on the console, I scrapped my stand alone player and can finally hook up my optical audio cable and get surround sound for gaming.

    Integration of Twitch and Skype brings my PC into the true home entertainment system.

    Funny, because when I relook at the video from last year, it said that it would do this and I just ignored that because I wanted game stuff. Why? I don’t know, because there is no question the games I have played on XBone are definitely next gen in looks and performance. My outrage at the lack of games emphasis blinded me to this entertainment feature I now love.

    2: KINECT

    Now that I set here and think, wow.. yeah I hated the idea of this as well. I have no use for Kinect, I mean I haven’t even had a single inkling to get one for the 360 for any game or feature.

    Now I didn’t then nor now give a rats behind if by XBone Kinect is staring at me all the time. If somehow its streaming me secretly to someone in MS HQ as I play Titanfall in my underwear then so be it.. honestly I don’t care.

    I was upset that because Kinect was in all units, I would be paying more for the overall package and wouldn’t use the Kinect.

    Yet I really love the speech and gesture feature in operating the X Bone. It’s not a novelty, it’s a cool function I use nearly every time I turn it on.. which includes HOW I turn it on.

    Searching for things with Bing (I prefer Google on PC, but for X Bone it works well) is also cool using voice.

    I am surprised Kinect is working so well and has so many features I use. To think that they’ll only be working on more is interesting.

    For the first time ever as well, I hope games I love, like Halo will feature more Kinects use so I can continue to enjoy.

    Also helps me keep the living room tidy so the spies at MS enjoy the underwear shows more!

    3: RESELLING GAMES/DIGITAL DOWNLOADS

    I actually had NO issue whatsoever with the idea of not allowing me to sell old games or buy second hand ones. Honestly people either do or don’t do this. I am a ‘Don’t do this’ person on reselling games. Call me a games hoarder if you want, but I like to keep games and see them physically in a collection.

    In fact my beef with the whole ban on reselling games that originally proposed by MS (but then scrapped) was the idea it was clear we were going down path to have only digitally downloaded versions of games.

    Now not only do I own the Titanfall X Bone bundle, but my second 360 was a Reach bundle. (Although I already had a hard copy of Reach I bought for old 360.) So 2 of the games I have played the most were both full digital downloads.

    Last week Connor wanted a ‘Plants Vs Zombies : Garden Warfare’ & I actually said, “Lets get digital copy.” Yes, I have changed my game hoarding ways.

    It is more convenient then having to get up and get disk, it means you don’t have to leave home to get it, and with a larger hard drive than the 30 GB I had for years with the 360, I don’t have to worry about space as much as I used to.

    In fact it was concerns on space to dl a bunch of games that I realize this digital dl only path irked me. Again, I was told there was a lot of space on the new console.. yet like so many others ran for the pitchfork.

    I want to say it is better for environment too.. but that sounds like a hippy thing to say.

    Back to the resell of games, I don’t want to weigh in on that too much, I mentioned I don’t like to buy used games, but I also feel bead because people make a living in that corner of industry.. but then again, milk men were honest workers, but just aren’t needed in today’s world.

    I also REALLY hope the now backburnered idea that we could share games with friends we purchased but they didn’t gets green lighted in the near future.

    4: XBONE ALWAYS ON/CONNECTED TO NET

    Like many, I was a victim of RROD, so my sole concern was wear and tear on machine.

    Like a computer is goes dormant, updates happen overnight/out of view and the box is not hot at all and is performing well. In February my concerns pretty well were gone. No reports of overheating or any horror stories at all I found on this topic.

    Now it didn’t take hours of my life wasted when I turned on my 360 to get updates. But really, it’s nice to say “Xbox on” have it boot up and not have to see installation/update needed on anything, were barely 6 months into launch of new console, there are PLENTY of updates, yet it has been seamless!

    I also see my internet usage with the exception of the first week I got the XBone is pretty steady with what I used for 360. That’s first week of course I dled Titanfall and a ton of other goodies to the new console.

UNFORSEEN BEEF: I can’t deny one beef I didn’t foresee about the X Bone that bugs the hell out of me though. The friends list and system it uses is cluttered and really not practical. I want to see when friend pop in and out, and what games they are playing when they do such. I mean why can’t we voice message friends anymore? Now I have to type messages.. UGH.. come on, I’d rather voice message than honestly have people ‘follow me’. It’s a friends list, not a follow list. I normally give devs benefits of the doubt, but whoever pitched the idea, implemented and tested and ultimately put it to gold, should all be taken out and be slapped in the side of a head with a rotting salmon.

So in closing, (That sounds too formal for a hack like me to use.. oh well.. I used the line) I say now that a year later, I panicked prematurely and followed too many other sheep condemning MS in May of 2013. While I don’t think we were all ready for what they originally proposed collectively, I think that a lot of what they said and took out or delayed, would have probably been things at least I would have liked.

NOTE: Out of respect for the TBOD founders who are Playstation boys, I will not say that Playstation sucks.. at least not until I find a polite way to say it.

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The TBoD Podcast – 53 – Marty be Gone

Sup’ bitches,

We’re back again for another week of epic gaming lolz. This week:

Marty gets kicked

Virtual insanity/reality returns with more news from Occulus. More here. And yet more here.

Continued nonsense from Call of Doody.

Nice words from a Titanfall dev.

And the PS4 gets a long-overdue update.

Click here and choose ‘save as’ to download

Pluto TV, A Step Forward By Going Back!

tbodgagnon

Gonna go by memory on a conversation I have had a few times with my wife when she says she doesn’t understand how I can watch YouTube so much.

    Me: “It’s like TV. But better.”

    Wife: “We have a TV, how can it be better?”

    Me: “I can watch literally a million things whenever I want! No schedule, no limits.”

Now I have gone through this with here a few times, and similar conversations with friends. I still maintain that I love the freedom YouTube allows. But sometimes it’s TOO big.

So then I tripped over Pluto.tv

pluto blog

What Pluto offers is channels that have been set up by scouring YouTube, Veemo and other video hosting sites online and placed similar vids on appropriate channels. This can simplify things if you feel like say watching music videos on certain genres (Because somehow MTV no longer shows music videos) sports vids, or more specific things like Minecraft videos for gamers.

Now wait.. now I’m back to a schedule someone else sets up if I want to watch something on a particular topic. True, but honestly, the people behind Pluto literally have experts on certain topics put theses channel playlists together. They find things about topics you may already try to scour to find videos for and are unable to.

Face it, there are times I am watching a Halo video on say Forge, and at the end YouTube in its infinite wisdom shows on ‘suggested video’ section when my vid is over something REALLY off base like “How to remove unwanted body hair.” Though I do appreciate manscaping on myself, I don’t see a correlation.

So Pluto can bring to light corners of a community you like that you haven’t found in the depths of the internet. As put before, sometimes the internet is TOO big.

There are some ads that flash on screen, but unobtrusive like YouTube currently has.

So now in real time you and your buddies can watch a show at the same time and interact with the private chat feature, personally appeals to me.

There are a varying range of topics, however if there is a topic not covered maybe let them know and a channel can be set up for you and your buds.

On the gaming angle consider how Twitch has blown up with the X Box One’s integration. Pluto is hitting on something that is more than trending right now but seems to be a serious emerging new real integration of the internet as true entertainment base, that can take a big bite from the TV we have known for so long. I mean if you miss an episode of your favorite sitcom now, you can go to the networks website and often watch it after the fact, so it’s happening now. The TV networks use the web for what was considered not apples to apples as far as home entertainment, the gap is bridged, and dare I say, forming into one.

Looks like the Xbone 2013 spring uproar when it was pushed more as entertainment system than games was something so many of us shouldn’t have flipped out on (Including me) I see things like Pluto benefiting from this and I am enjoying it early into the game.

Now will this stick? I think so but who knows it what form it will evolve, but right now its new and hot and I think people should look into it and help it grow.

Fairly short and simple blog gang… Pluto.tv…. check it out!

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The TBoD Podcast – 52 – Nintendo Don’t cry

Hello boys and girls,

Welcome to another edition of the TBoD podcast, the topics up for discussion from our likely lads this week are;

Xbox updates,

Lets Change the Pace…

Wow, the last 2 weeks of blogs, dealing with Halo, took a lot of attention to follow up on. Writing them was something I knew would be difficult on a lot of angles, but in the end I felt I needed to say it. I do appreciate those who took the high road in proper rebuttal to in particular my blog on ‘Halo community having too much say.’ I got a lot of emails and replies that say apparently I should simply fornicate with myself. I assure you all, if I could to that, I probably wouldn’t leave home for a solid week or two.

tbodgagnon

None the less had some good comments from different corners of the Halo community which despite what we think on the topic I brought up, it’s clear a lot of people care about the game.

So how do I follow those 2 weeks up? Well honestly I have a couple of blogs ‘banked’ but to change the pace a bit, I figured I should simply post one of my favorite recipes.

pp1

You may have just said “WTF?”

Yeah, it’s a recipe, and it’s easy and tasty. Would you rather I spew Halo stuff for a third week in a row?

PULLED PORK A LA GAGNON

What you need

1 KG (About 2.2 lbs) Pork Tenderloin

1 Can of Root Beer (Yeah.. that’s right, root beer)

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (18 oz/500ish ml)

Slow cooker

Instructions

Place tenderloin in slow cooker

Pour Root Beer over meat

Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours, until meat shreds easily

Drain liquid from meat

Stir in BBQ sauce to meat

Serve on fresh buns (Hell on stale ones if that floats your boat)

Recommended

A little homemade cole slaw on top of meat is popular.

Great part about this meal it’s easy to make, a quick clean up and you can brag it took 7 hours to make, yet you can play a solid 6 hours of games while it cooks!

Yeah.. my blog is a recipe this week… so?

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The TBoD Podcast – 51 – TBoD Bingo

Howdy chaps and chapesses,

TBoD return the normal schedule this week with more news from the gamesphere from the past 7 days or so.

We firstly bash Xbox for erroneous reasons; the Game with Gold this month is indeed Hitman: Absolution. Apologies to Microsoft…

We touch on our thoughts around the more broad points from Gagnon30′s recent post.

Phil Spencer promoted;

Disney buys Maker Studios; and

Amazon Fire TV, among others

The indie game this week is the truly excellent Gang Beasts

As ever, get your lugs (English for ‘ears’) around our dulcet tones, and give us your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, or the comments section below.

Right-click here and click ‘Save As’

Halo Community Hiatis

    NOTE: I wrote the article below March 26th intending on releasing April 2nd, (I want my blogs to go up to TBOD on Wednesdays, I even have next 2 articles already written/in rpocess.) Since then another previously published blog on the Halo community having too much say got alot of attention by community and an all out attack by the very protective competitive community at Teambeyond.net.

    I considered not publishing this new blog for a week or two as the ther blog still had people jumping about. But I wont change my schedule for people who register to comment on my writing using phony email addresses to tell me to **** myself. Interesting that they were passionate about a blog that they say in thier own forum that they stopped reading after a paragraph or two. Yet then are qualified to comment about it.

    As always, my details are listed on the bottom of my blog so people can contact me and comment to me. A courtesy alot of the Teambeyond people dont do.

    To be clear: Halo 4 was not the best version of Halo made, my blog never said that. My blog made a point I believe that I still think stands. People cant complain about having more inuput in next Halo, as I feel 343 gave them unprecidented say in Halo 4, and it turned out very poorly.

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I am a Halo nut. Honestly I am.

I love all the novels. (If you don’t the Greg Bear trilogy.. which I consider more a sleep aid) My son and I have amassed a rather large collection of Halo Mega Bloks, and we own all the games, most with multiple versions. I have even been fortunate to be on a few different Halo podcasts spreading the Halo love.

But Halo was not my first. My first was on a filthy couch in the late 80’s… OH WAIT.. WRONG ‘First time’ blog.

tbodgagnon

But seriously folks.. there WERE other games I loved over the years including a series of multiple PC titles called “Close Combat”.

But Halo has had a grip on my since just before ODST. However it appears that while I am eager to getting H2A and H5 in the next 18 months or whenever these materialize, that I am not destined short term to stay as active in the community.

Its nothing to do with Halo 4s quality. I feel Halo bottomed out with Halo Reach and Halo 4 got momentum back. Halo 4 has some outstanding new gametypes and features I love!

As someone with a long history of sports in my life, Ill use a sports analogy. I believe I have hit 3 strikes with Halo that spell at the very least a break for me in the active Halo community, if not something much longer. Ill be clear though again, I will be there on release night for whatever Halo has down the line. On the virtual Halo battlefield, I think Ill always be there!

    STRIKE 1

    Firstly my favorite Halo Podcast, Postgame Carnage Report, recently went non Halo format. It’s a shame, because for a long time they had great Halo chat and insight. But over the last few months it was a Halo trainwreck within the opinions between hosts of the show. So to switch over to an “All games” podcast is what I believe was a trade off to stopping the show entirely. (The show stopping was speculation on my end not a conformation.) Although they have 2 of my favorite personalities in the podcasting world on their hosting teams, I won’t listen going forward. It won’t be the same hearing their voices, yet not hearing Halo talk. (Better put GOOD Halo talk) PGCR will continue to be a great podcast I am sure, but without Halo, I will genuinely feel sad listening.

    STRIKE 2

    BS Angel is taking a promotion at 343, and good for her. She was a great community manager and her career is seemingly taking the next step. Bravo is now community manager. All I can think of is when I have heard or read anything from Bravo it always pushing MLG/PRO/Competitive Halo. I feel he wont understand all the fans, the vast majority casual or non competitive players. To quote line from a friend Robowski on a recent non related topic, I feel Bravo is ‘Too Corporate’. Angel had a great sincerity and honest to goodness feel she cared about everyone in community. Bravo will have to kiss a lot of babies and shake a few non golden pro players hands to get that kind of street cred. In fact it’s a far enough journey he has that I don’t wait to wait and see for now.

    STRIKE 3

    Everyone seems to think they know how to make Halo games better than the pros who make it. I can’t really think of a podast, blog or active forum in the Halo universe that doesn’t talk down to 343. Saw the same thing in Close Combat. Hell I WAS HIRED TO MAKE CLOSE COMBAT after modding it for a few years. All of a sudden people feel resent in why they aren’t being asked or even paid to help. New versions are attacked by the community to serve their own interests/notoriety.. its happening with Halo. I question as I type in fact if I am doing that very same thing right now. Seems I am giving flack out to a lot of Halo community people recently.. so its in the best interests of community I too take a break to either avoid going to or backing out of the hypocrite zone!

But really, wherever I go, its negative Halo talk that makes me upset. When a hobby makes you upset, you need at the very least a break. Fact is a got a big mouth and love to talk. What I say gets me into trouble a lot, so I am sincerely telling you that I am not ragging on Halo community to boost myself with a blog or anything. I like creating things, that’s all.

I have publically let a lot of people know I have moved on to Titanfall for now. Yeah, Ill be creating stuff, and trying to keep positive vibes around this incredible game. Fact is Titanfall may be the next series I have a love affair with after Close Combat and Halo…

But I have real hope the stars can realign and that love affair with Halo is back as strong as ever. You will see me playing Halo going forward, but I will not be putting time into community much anymore.

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The TBoD Podcast – 50 – Virtual Insanity

Hey folks,

The crew reunite after a split to take in the sights and “experiences” of Amsterdam to talk through the latest news in gaming.

This week, we couldn’t really talk about anything other than the Facebook/Oculus union.

Have a listen, and give us your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, or the comments section below.

Right click and hit “save link as…” to download

Halo Community Has TOO MUCH Say In The Game.

tbodgagnon

Only a minority, a small minority of any games community are so committed that they either run a podcast, blog, website or forum for their chose games community.

These people for me are well appreciated in the time they take. However it goes without saying that their passion for the game they are helping promote is well over the average player of that game. Of course, it’s a gimmie they normally have an extensive knowledge of the game that the average person doesn’t have. However while they might have insight on the history of the game and community they love to serve, it doesn’t mean they know anything better about the direction of the game, especially more than the professionals who make games.

But these community “leaders” (For the record I hate that term, community ‘media’ sounds even worse!) who in the Halo realm keep harping that 343 needs to listen more to the community, are NOT SPEAKING for the community as a whole.

Here are a few examples of terms they use and shouldn’t,

    -“The core Halo community didn’t like Halo 4” First of all you can’t definitely say what core community is. Secondly all you can’t say an entire community, likely in the thousands, all didn’t like Halo 4. In fact there is not a single poll or data array showing ANY sort of ‘vote’ on any group liking or not liking Halo 4.

    -“343 needs to focus on Competitive play.” Why? Are competitive players the majority of Halos players? No they aren’t.. so why then focus on that? What does a guy like me, an average at best player, who still logs plenty of hours playing Halo stand to gain from that?

    -“Halo 2 was more popular, with more active players a year and a half after release, unlike Halo 4.” This statement might be true on raw numbers, but it’s apples to oranges. How many games were out there in the same genre to compete with Halo 2 as opposed to Halo 4 now? How many other AAA titles in any genre to compete for your playing time? Halo 4 has to compete with OTHER VERSIONS of multiplayer Halo even! (Not to mention even Spartan Assault)

    -“Halo 4 doesn’t feel like ‘Real Halo’.” You mean you don’t feel the same way playing Halo 4 as you did when playing Halo 3? Well, they are different games. More importantly, please define what ‘Real Halo’ feels like. Is it soft like a babies bottom? Is it greasy like uncooked bacon? Does it give you butterflies in your stomach like your fist kiss? Oh wait.. those butterflies go away with each subsequent kiss… wow.. like the feeling you get playing Halo or any other game. You still enjoy it, but the new car smell is gone. This comment is just plain stupid.. ‘Real Halo’ doesn’t have a feeling. A feeling is an interpretive opinion.

    -“Halo 5 needs a community/open beta” By the time you beta test, the core gameplay/mechanics of a game are DONE. Only certain tweaks in variables like those around weapons damage, jump height and other things that get tweaked in subsequent post release updates anyhow are gained earlier on by beta. So what, you have a community beta so the first update is done earlier. Seems like a lot of time and money for 343 to spend to get a few tweak don’t ahead of time. I challenge anyone to give me a core gameplay mechanic that was changed with any game from community beta testing.

    -“343 Needs to listen to the community on the direction of Halo going forward.” STOP THE PRESSES! 343 HAS DONE THIS, AND IT COULD BE A PART OF THE PROBLEM A LOT OF PEOPLE BITCH ABOUT.

AND THIS LAST POINT NOW TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT.

343 have bent over backwards listening to community, and guess what? The community was wrong. In fact my point begins with Bungie trying to be even more community friendly as far as listening to input.

Example? How about MAP SELECTION?

Back in the Halo 3 days of course you COULD vote a map down, but once and then you played what they gave you. Now in between H3 and Reach one thing that quite a few forum threads in various ones across the Halo universe, including the Bungie forums, asked for more interactive map selection. Now while I am sure a few people might have disagreed with that idea, there was an overwhelming amount of people who wanted more selection. In fact many if not most threads went without people responding disliking the idea.

So Bungie (yeah was Bungie then) gave us a much more active selection in Reach. You had 3 different maps to choose from, not just a yes or no to a single selection. Because that’s what the mob wanted.

So what did the mob get?

ELITE SLAYER ON SWORD BASE. Over and ****ing over again.

Hell yeah, we got more say in what map/gametype we play, and we decided we apparently don’t like variety.

This transferred over to Halo 4, where were happy with being listened to, and continue to have a say in what maps we play, we collectively thought every second map should be either Haven or Ragnarok! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

So the ‘core classic Halo gameplay’ the Halo Media likes to talk about, included a single map yes or no then ‘this is your map then’ Halo 3 as a part of its description. Yet this changed in large part, DUE TO THE DEVS LISTENING TO US!

INSERT FACEPLAM PIC HERE.
fpsm

I read in a Titanfall forum people being upset about not being able to vote on what map you played. I responded telling them they should be thankful as all hell of this. We are able to play all the different Titanfall maps because of this and pointed to Halo and COD having issues with this voting system. Otherwise we would be playing Angel City OVER AND OVER AGAIN in Titanfall.

Also the whole loadout and ranking up to earn unlocks is also something that forums were screaming for between Halo 3 and Reach in very large numbers when asked “What do you want with Halo?”. (Again initiated by BUNGIE first)

Now I can honest to god understand that there is somewhere a core community of people who live and die Halo for the past 10 years. But no matter what criteria one can say makes a person part of this core, when you are serving the community, it includes ALL of your clients (That’s right boys & girls we are clients.) So by listening to the things the community wants, they (343) are trying to keep the majority of their clients happy. There is a plain fact that a lot of people playing Halo now are not veterans of all the Halo games and who play other games like COD. If they make multiple post about wanting more classes and earning ranks with unlocks that get a ton of support from other non ‘core’ members, 343 MUST then listen to them to truly do what they committed to listening to the community. Its majority rules when that’s the path you take. This is what has and is happening.

Why are we having rotating playlists in Halo 4? On recommendations of the community! To find new things for you to enjoy!

We even have votable playlists to be interactive! Yet, the best Halo Podcast out there, Podtacular (I am not being sarcastic, they are the best Halo Podcast out there) even criticizes the selections the community democratically elected into being! Here is one of many podcasts that ask for more community input, then dumped on the community decision!

WHAT DO YOU WANT HALO COMMUNITY? WE HAVE GIVEN YOU CHOICE! *Halo community then eats itself*

    Please don’t kid yourselves and forget this point: Games are made by companies. Companies make money to stay afloat. The more money they make the more successful the company is. In order to keep making money, and keeping your company open and employees employed you give the MAJORITY of your clients as happy as possible. Making video games is NOT a charity it is a business.

Lets revisit the whole “Must make Halo better to the competitive players as well.” 343 in fact made MULTIPLE updates targeting making these guys happy. When they whined their wants any tournaments they hosted the MASSIVE 500K tourney. They even invited a bunch of them to go to their studios, get wined and dined and played Halo in an environment many of us would pay to be in to get their feedback… but they still are uninterested. I think the competitive community are not a group that can be made happy, 343 has done everything they can to make them happy… to the degree I think is over the top. The competitive group has been pandered to enough. They don’t know what they want, 343 please screw them and keep up with the majority of us who aren’t these spoiled competitive players. You did everything you could and they are ungrateful and unable to even help despite what you have tried to do.

It’s also hypocritical that a lot of the Halo Media dumps on Call of Duty saying “It’s the same game every year with a new release.” I mean quite a few of the Halo Media then go back wanting ‘Classic Halo’. So basically saying they don’t want change, yet rag on COD for basically… NOT CHANGING!

Also what is the magical core game play they want? Define that! I hear repeatedly “Make some enhancements, but don’t change core game play”. OMG! Give us all an example of what that means. Is not adding loadouts an enhancement? Is not adding classes an enhancement? Is not rotating different gametypes to try new things an enhancement? I mean it’s what a lot of people asked for when 343 and even Bungie heard when asked what to put into Halo.

My point is that I think the Halo community has already been given too much say. It’s one reason why Halo isn’t riding as high as it could be.

ANALOGY TIME (Heh heh.. I just fit ‘Anal’ into my blog!)

    I am not a doctor. I trust doctors will do things as efficient and safely as possible. When I go to the doctor I expect to be treated properly.
    But I pay for the doctor. Whether it’s through insurance or universal health care like we have in Canada, I am a client to the healthcare system. How much say should I have?

    I was thinking, it a world where the environment is so important, I think it’s a good idea we be at one with the other creatures on this planet and train hamsters to feed off certain things. So If I need my appendix out, we insert a hamster trained to eat human appendixes in me who will chew away the organ. Then we use recycled duct tape to heal the wound. THIS IS WHAT I WANT!

Hmm… maybe the doctors and video game developers be left to make certain decisions to themselves.. right?

Not to mention the infamous ‘Halo Core Community’ can’t even define exactly what it really wants. Last time I checked they want Halo 2 repackaged every new release.. like COD.. but not like COD…but with enhancements… but without changes… and catering to the competitive community… but that competitive community isnt liking the changes tailor made for them… and with the biggie size and curly fries.. low carbs though… but tastes the same.. gotta FEEL LIKE HALO.. but we cant really say what Halo feels like… I need a Tylenol…

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My First Time.. (Should I mention playing a computer game?)

It was 1980. Video games were taking over our worlds if you were a boy anywhere from 8-15. Now the main place to play them was still in a good old fashioned arcade. But the Atari 2600 had already been around for a couple of years on the retail market and that year of 1980 saw Intellivision go from test market to retails as well.

But there was that OTHER place to play games. Or was there? We had heard of it, but it was the of the proverbial chupacabra and sasquatch mythology.

Computer gaming? (Wasn’t called ‘PC’ gaming back then!)

OMG… yeah… Zork!

arcade

Now the toughest part of this innovative/ground breaking and unquestionably legendary game was finding a computer. Being in the city of Calgary Alberta in 1980, it was still a small city. Offices just didn’t have a lot of computers back then. You were more likely to find a microfiche machine than a computer in many places.

I can remember the very first time this type of gaming came to my attention.

Now I was 10 going on 11 in 1980. A computer was something most of my buddies had only seen at the theatre and more specifically on the bridge of a Star Destroyer. Actually, we referred to video games like Asteroids as internally being computers. (My friends and I) A computer you typed on that was all text was tough to find, it was an office tool and it was expensive!

So one day my stepmother had to go into work on a Saturday for an hour or so. She asked me if I wanted to tag along, she mentioned they had new computers. SOLD.. I am in. Let’s see on e of these new fangled contraptions.

We get to the office downtown and she goes to her business after introducing me to this guy she works with who is going to show me one of their computers.

Now I can’t remember his exact words, but in order to sell this write up better Ill make it sound real good. (Read real good is more accurate)

This guy asks. “So you ever saw a computer up close?”

I reply. “No, I mean I have an Atari, that’s it…”

Then his voice changed. It was Laurence Olivier delivered and Charlton Heston like in sound. “Well if you like GAMES..”

“Holy ****ing ****?” I exclaimed! “This ****ing massive machine that in 30 years my watch will have better processing power than can play games? Get the **** out dude!”

Okay.. that last part isn’t true.. I mean we ALL KNOW nobody wears watches 30 years later.

Now one has to remember that few homes had computers period, much less games on it like this. In fact I only had 1 friend I knew who had one at home, which happened to have games on it. (That’s actually a sad story because the kid had leukemia and not many people knew. Other kids called him spoiled for all the toys and stuff he had, but in the end when I think about it, there is a good chance he is dead now considering this was 34 years ago and where this type cancer was back then.)

Back to the story..

Okay, so I sit in the chair in front of the screen and he pops up Zork.

zork-screen_5

My mind was about to be blown.

Now of the 5 people who will actually read this.. 3 of you just thought about skipping this and going back to Facebook. All 3 of you clearly can’t relate to the awesomeness a text based game like this has. (Note I say ‘has’ not ‘had’)

The imagination is a wonderful place you see. Text based games, like a book (UH… BOTH HAVE WORDS) allow you upon taking in the information to paint the picture in your mind any color you like. When people say “The book was better” when they see a movie, it is many times because you have set a standard in your own mind. You have expanded on the basic and normally see things that enhance the mood with something that really hits home to you personally.

So as I stood in that open field near the boarded up house at the start of Zork, I pictured dark stormy skies and that fields being rather barren & bleak with the whistling wind and creaking shutters falling in place… the world the creators of Zork made didn’t need a graphic artist, because the person playing would do that work! It’s one of those great but rare moments in ones gaming experiences where you get the butterflies in your stomach and simply say, “This is a watershed moment.”

I had only about an hour that day playing Zork for the first time. I had to learn what you could and couldn’t type in to progress for a good chunk of it!

It was literally thrilling at times to see the response once you hit enter. Even if you were just deciding which direction to go in a hallway, there was tense air as you decided.

Looking back now the story and flow is simple and looks to the layman form the outside as uninteresting. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Zork and similar text based games are their own genre that honestly I believe stand the test of time. They are books that allow you to decide the story, and just seem to take more creativity to play that a modern day game where with HD graphics and surround sound have. Of course modern day games add MUCH more game enhancing things. But it doesn’t seem to be as robotic as nowadays. I mean Zork amongst other things is the first ever LINEAR campaign! (That’s a LOL moment right?) There ARE limited choices to make when all is said and done.

I wrote a lot as a kid and young adult and honestly, a fame like Zork had its influence it giving ideas that my mind expanded on. I became a better writer, had a better imagination in part because of this game. I believe a Zork type game should be part of a Creative Language course in schools. It ties in video games and the imagination. It’s an easy segway after playing the game to have your students start writing a same type decision making story, or simply rewriting the events and expressing those pictures they painted in their minds!

Its true with my Halo addiction I enjoy the expanded written universe. But I also see so many who play it oblivious to that or the story behind Master Chief ect ect. You don’t need to know these stories to play after all, but for me it’s a rather empty way to appreciate a game to a large degree.

Okay, I don’t expect people to flood back to text based games. But I appreciate what they were, a great time to play! Yet also limited by technology, accessibility and probably underrated. It is easy to set back with a controller and make the reflex moves we have running down a hall in a shooter game conditioned by so many hours doing it. It’s fun and everything, but am I getting through to at least one other person when I say. “There is something missing?” I mean, at its base, the text based game is missing visuals and sound as you sit in front of the screen.. BUT it’s the HD 5.1 surround sound game that lacks a very simple edge sometimes.

To play Zork online.. go here:

http://thcnet.net/zork/index.php

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The TBoD Podcast – Episode 49 – Want you back for good

Hello Tea Pots,

Welcome to another freshly poured cup of the Teabag or Die podcast. This week the boys discuss;

Microsoft admits to failings in the PR department,

Sony takes the piss,

Big achievements,

Titanfall,

Titanfall,

Watchdogs,

e-sports corruption,

steam controller,

TLoU movie (again),

and this weeks “we called the dog…” title is ‘This is my War

right click and hit save as to download

have a deeks, let us know what you think and keep in touch in all the usual ways.

 

- eremenko

Halo Mega Bloksfest May 24th

A reminder on the event recently mentioned on TBOD being held May 24!

fest

The Halo Mega BloksFest returns once again for another epic day of fun, gaming and Halo for all ages. With huge companies Mega Brands and Microsoft sponsoring the event this year promises to be bigger and better than ever!

BloksFest is a yearly convention centring on the multi-billion dollar gaming franchise Halo. The convention offers a goodie bag for all ticket holders, Halo 4 tournaments, event coverage on Halo Waypoint, custom and animation competitions and over 200+ sets on sale at below 40% RRP. This year we have teamed up with the charity ‘Childs Play’ and hope to raise money to help provide gaming consoles in children’s hospitals.

Information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/247712382025845/

Contact: -0778347028 -simonkey12@hotmail.co.uk

Website: http://halomegabloksfest.webeden.co.uk/

TITANFALL (Multiplayer only or not) IS AWESOME!

Have had a good first week playing Titanfall. But of course outside playing it, (While I have my morning coffee as I get up and scope out the internet prior to going to the office) I look at forums and games sties habitually and of courserecently it is dominated by TF banter. While most notes on TF are positive, one thing keeps getting thrown out there that has been being tossed around for months around the lack of single player and the fact you need to be online to play TF.

Ladies & gentlemen, I bring you this week’s blog.

tbodgagnon

Yes, you can ONLY play multiplayer and only play online with Titanfall. But there are people narrow minded enough to brush off TF just because of this. Let me pitch this weeks blog to you if you are this mindset and tell you why I (and I know many others) do not care about the lack of single player.

I think that a lot of gamers are saying “This is what I am used to getting in the past!” when it comes to games. Thus “Titanfall doesn’t come with single player camp! How can they charge $60 for half of what I normally get!?”

I think the mentality behind that is wrong. Gamers should, at the very least, ask “What am I getting now?” (As opposed to in the past)

As far as what we got in past, it should be noted that there are successful SINGLE PLAYER ONLY games out there, like Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. These sold for regular $60 cost. While there are not tons of single player only games that ‘top the charts’ there none the less are some. So why couldn’t a multiplayer only do the same?

So the question is then, “What do we get?”

Well we mostly got an entire team dedicated to taking that multiplayer only game and not worrying about single player. Face it, if you’re going to take the gamble and go either way on the single/multi side, you sure as s*** better make sure your final product in whatever way you go is amazing. IMHO the boys at Respawn have done this.

The game play is fluid. With the havoc and chaos that happens left right and center on such a massive map, it’s quite impressive that there aren’t any major lag or frame rate issues. As I type this I can honestly say only twice in game did I have an in game stop and delay for serer connection with both times lasting less than 10 seconds. I get this with my baby, Halo 4 regularly even more than 15 months after release.
It’s true that they didn’t go full 1080p at launch in order to keep frame rate stable, hell that’s a good thing! Because it’s been very stable. Frankly while I do want full 1080, and hope they impliment that shortly as promised, I have been having so much fun playng it, have not noticed any visual shortcomings!

Titanfall is very polished. Yes, I am playing on the next gen console so it’s got more that can be done that the 360 to pretty it up. But just cause you have the ingredients doesn’t mean you know how to cook! Yet here at release we have a game that is in incredible shape. It’s the first Titanfall and it looks and important to note PLAYS like they have been making the game for years. Again, simply it’s very ‘Polished’.
The 16 maps TF comes with are incredibly impressive. In fact, although I admit that it boils down to opinion, I will challenge to find any game of this genre that has a better set of maps at launch. Hell, even CLOSE to it.

Now, some of the special/little things that stand out why I love this game and help me accept multiplayer only.

    1: Once a game is over, it isn’t quite over, and it’s a run to the dropship for the loser. It’s so much fun that after a long or short game, one sided or not, you all of a sudden have a final dash to try to secure some points from a loss or totally shut down whoever you just beat with this feature. It is always a rush!

    2: The mech/human balance. Of course this was always going to be in question. A Titan is just so fierce that if you’re not in one, many of us thought you were fodder. Yet players both in and not in a Titan have advantages and disadvantages. The maps help with this too, there are areas where you’re out of a Titan you can hide and wait to blast one, yet as I found myself once doing such I turn around and a titan cannon reaches in and BOOM, I’m dead! THAT’SSOAWESOME! *I take a deep breath* There is good balance where in balance would simply be a disaster.

    3: Learning curb. For those who might not follow my blog or heard me on any podcasts I have been on, I love gaming, especially Halo, BUT I SUCK AT GAMES. I have a longer than normal learning curb for a games basic flow and controls. Yet honest to god, Titanfall is easy to pick up as far as controls and ‘special moves’. Sure tactics are something always changing and having to learn. But when I first saw wall running and jet packing I thought I couldn’t do it. But it’s very easy to learn and use.

    4: Burn Cards/Perks. Ah yes, the great debate! Like what makes COD/Halo people at each other’s throats. How do you reward people who put time into the game without making noobs joining in month later being too far behind to contend? Well burn cards work awesome. You get an advantage, but only once, and hell, you don’t have to use it in a particular game though its equipped to go. Considering you build up to earn them over time, not just one game, it works for a hacker like me! Yet if you’re really good, you earn them faster. I think it’s a fair balance.

    5: Customizing/Weapon Selection.. While choice is good. The sheer amount of weapons say COD has coupled with add ons makes customization often a daunting task. Not only time consuming and often needing to do your homework you may not be willing to do, this is where the balance between hardcore and noob players can be WAY off. I like the smaller range of weapons and add ons you can work with. Again, best of both worlds for vets and noobs. I mean when you see a Titan equipped with ‘INSERT SET UP’, it won’t take too long to learn what you need to do or avoid to counter it. When there is dozens of different combinations, it can be too big a task to do and becomes just that.. a task, not a game.

    6: Game types. There aren’t too many too chose from to dilute community. Yet they have the core ones there. Sure, as time goes by they’ll add things. But honestly, I hope they don’t add too many. This point is really a matter of opinion. But it’s one I know a lot of people can agree with.

Here are some realities that I accept that are being thrown around as negatives at launch for TF that I dotn see as issues, if you don’t agree, then I smply say you need to frankly accept we just have to live with it.

While there have been server issues, mostly because of XBL, this wasn’t total surprise. This is launch of a very much anticipated game with thousands of new X Bones purchased just for this day! Happened with 2 versions of Halo and 1 of COD I got over last 6 years or so.

No matter what, companies know a lot of people are willing to pay $60 for a single or multiplayer game only. No doubt that sooner or later a game will have 2 versions, 1 multiplayer and 1 single player and charge $60 for each. People will buy like sheep doing their homework or not. Some of these games on their own will be worth the money, no doubt some wont. But Titanfall is worth $60 in my books, and yeah, I took a leap of faith to some degree. Thankfully it was right move!

Would I like a TF single player campaign? Sure, but hey, I am a multiplayer guy. So I would play it maybe twice if it exisited. In a nutshell, that is bottom line for me on SPC.

In the end, do you have fun playing the game as it is multiplayer and online only? “Yes”

And finally “What am I getting now with Titanfall?” I am getting a fun “bar raising” gaming experience that is worth my $60 and no doubt will have me enjoying hours upon hours of fun for many months. Seems to be alot of good games I bought in the past and gave me both single and multiplayer options in one package gave me the same fun. Actually they often gave me LESS fun!

See you on the Frontier!

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The TBoD podcast – Episode 48 – Return of the Bat

Welcome back to the stage of victory….. or something less dramatic.

The TBoD guys are back with their regularly scheduled programming, the topics on the bill for discussion this week are;

The Last of Us is getting the movie treatment,

Infamous: second son is set to be a big seller,

Microsoft reduce the price of the Xbox one in a new Titanfall bundle,

Path of Exile is showing devs how FTP should be done,

Duna duna duna duna duna duna duna duna BATMAN!

and…..

This weeks Indie game is 10 second Ninja

We had some technical difficulties this week so there have been some audio cuts, apologies for that.

As always let us know what you think of the stories discussed this week via the usual portals.

right click and hit save as to download

Thanks for listening,

- eremenko

UPDATE: - Audio has been cleaned up slightly, no cuts in the latest version so re-download latst version.

Reasons My Wife Needs to Let me Get An X Box One.

In this first Teabag or Die Blog, I list reasons to get an X Bone to my wife, the boss. I also nearly go bonkers on Destiny sheep. (The boys from Teabag or Die facepalm.. “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?”)

tbodgagnon

Okay, so I took the plunge. I have now entered the warm crystal clear waters of the next gen console world by preordering the Titanfall edition of the Xbone.

(Yes, I prefer calling it the XBone, and I don’t use that in a derogatory way.)

My initial plan was to get it this fall. I mean what owner of a 360 that’s has had it for at least 5 years doesn’t shutter at the thought of the infamous RROD. I am not going out on a limb to say I am with a lot of others who absolutely were going to wait a while and not to get this purchase upon initial release in fear of something similar. So for me, it was fall of 2014, a year after the launch.

In fact, my initial master plan included fingers crossed that in the fall a Halo themed unit would be available. This likely will still happen with either the rumored H2 Anniversary release or Halo 5. But in both cases you can’t bank it will happen in the fall. So I sit here as a self described Halo nut, who has ever purchased a Halo themed console, and who is jumping ship to a different game I have never played? Herecy!! (As a grunt would say!)

But then I caved to hype.. wait.. I can’t admit that! It can’t be true!  Let’s list off reasons why I caved! I mean I have to, why you ask? * sigh *

I am married you see.  I mean I have been married for more years than a lot of the readers here have been alive, so I can give you advice that after such a long time, a good strategy is to plan out your major gaming purchases so its fool proof to your spouse! It avoids things getting thrown at each other and sleeping on the couch. That’s right, I want the damn thing! But SHE needs to agree.

So I spell out the reasons why SHE agrees I should get it, then were in!

    1: THE SMOKE HAS CLEARED, ALL LOOKS GOOD:

    My wife, who is not tuned in on gaming at all, but saw ads ect on the XBone asked me “I suppose you want to get one of those?” Being a guy I stupidly didn’t think this out at all. I was honest and answered RIGHT AWAY. “Yeah, but I’ll wait a year till all the kinks are worked out, will go down a bit in price too.”

    What was I thinking? YES, it was always my plan to wait a year, but DAMN, telling my wife that, on a purchase of something she will never use. Something that will keep me from fixing the grout in the kitchen and repainting the baseboards now has me committing to wait a year. Well played my wife, clearly your 6th wife sense could see I was vulnerable and got a no scope headshot while jumping through a grav lift. I fear I might have lost my man card in fact by such a blunder!

    But wait! There has been no epic fail like the RROD. There has been minor glitches, but nothing of that epic scale.

    The launch honeymoon of blind euphoric love is gone and we can better judge the XBone months later. Easily put it is stable, it is not a lemon.

    2: ITS AN ENTERTAINMENT UNIT THE FAMILY NEEDS:

    We have 2 360’s in the house. One is a slim with a huge drive that runs flawlessly. This is the one my son plays on on the 40 something inch Sony in the ‘Xbox Room’. (Yeah that’s what its known as!) Like most 11 year olds these days, the machine is on MANY hours a week, couple hours weekday nights and on the weekend for at least 4 hours if not many more. Then there is the older unit. Was a replacement for the one that RRODed a few years ago. I believe the HD is 20 or 30 GB. Now this puppy has seen better days. It overheats after 2 hours of game play. But it’s not covered under warranty. No biggie for playing games, and in fact this unit was moved to our main living room  where the 46 inch plasma is so we can watch Netflix, Xbox Video and Youtube on it. (We do a lot of home movies I upload to YouTube and then can stream in HD on the TV)

    But last fall there was an update to the 360 and since then when we try to watch Netflix and Xbox video there are constant flickers on the screen. I went online and this is a problem not yet fixed by the 360 minds and frankly won’t get fixed. (I supposed I can understand)

    But then the WII came to the rescue. That tiny little thing that everyone forgot. Was buried in the TV stand under the Sony. The console that only got pulled out when people got nostalgic to lay Mario Kart.

    The WII has Netflix ability so It was resurrected and took its spot in the living room. In fact we even watch the YouTube vids off of the WII.

    Now the family has become dependent on this as a part of its regular entertainment system. That’s cool, more options, and more entertainment. But then news last week that Nintendo would be closing their online WII support in May of this year has put a void in this entertainment dependency in our home.

    Article here on WII: http://metro.co.uk/2014/02/27/nintendo-turns-off-online-support-for-wii-and-ds-games-4324929/

    So here steps in the XBone. Remember the outrage by so many that at E3 the system was plugged more for entertainment than a games console? Well damn… now this angle is appealing to me.

    So to my wife, I can go buy another 360 for 300$. But hey, in the fall I’m dropping 500$ on an XBone. So why spend 800$ when I can cut to the chase get a better system for this type of set up and just get the Xbone now?

    Reminder: Send thank you email to Nintendo for shutting down their online WII support.

    3: TITANFALL

    Yeah, I was harsh to people who have committed to the game Destiny before playing it. So it’s with humble pie that I give a little back to these people and say, I haven’t played Titanfall and have committed to a Titanfall themed unit. But I won’t give a full apology to the Destiny sheep.

    You gotta get games for a console right? Okay, and right now Titanfall is the hottest anticipated game of the year until Destiny comes out.

    So why not, for the same price of just a XBone console, get an XBone with a game I am interested in?

    I’ll be frank though. I am not saying Titanfall is the greatest game ever. I am still miffed at people proclaiming Destiny a Halo killer. But plain and simple I am getting Titanfall as the game I need to start my next collection. I am very happy at I have seen for the game play ect. I have done as much homework as I can reading up on it. Literally watching hours of game play people posted on YouTube from Beta. I get all caught up in Destiny sheep going on tangents on a game that doesn’t have much more than a few screenshots out. (Okay, enough, I will reel myself in from the Destiny bashing. After all, maybe it will be good!)

    Hey, in the end,  I would have bought this game on its own anyhow, so why not save the 70ish bucks and get it packaged?

    You see my wife wouldn’t care what game I got, but if it came WITH the console, and it’s a big release.. “Well honey! We got a great deal!”

    4: GETTING TO SPEND LESS TIME WITH ME

    Sad but true, and self explanatory. If the old 360 dies, I get to bug my wife more. I suppose when all is said and done, perhaps all I needed was this reason for her.

So there we are, I think I just need my wife to read this blog. Oh wait.. she doesn’t like my online exploits, refuses to read them.. DAMN.. plan ‘B’ time. On second thought, let her throw rolling pin at me a la Wilma Flintstone, Titanfall might be worth it!

EDIT: Honestly, Bungie I am SURE will hit a home run with Destiny. I just want to see more to feel warm and fuzzy!

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TBoD Podcast – The MMO special

Hey teabaggers.

We’ve been a little busy this week what with one thing or another and thus we have taken a break from the regularly scheduled podcast but we didn’t want to leave y’all hanging so we popped out a little special for your listening pleasure.

In this special we talk about the beginnings, the ever changing nature and the potential future of the Massively Multiplayer Online gaming scene. We also recorded a very special intro just for the cast, stay tuned at the end for the blooper reel.

Hopefully you will find this as interesting and entertaining as our regularly scheduled programming. Let us know what you thing about the topics discussed in the comments below.

Right click and choose ‘save as’ to download

Thanks,

eremenko

The TBoD Podcast – 47 – I’m Rollin a Jedi.

Hey guys, Thanks for tuning in, Hope you enjoy the show. Here are some of the articles we mulled over this week…..

and our indie game this week was Soulbound, which you can download the alpha from here

Right click and Save As to download cast

The TBoD Podcast – Episode 46 – A Klaus Call

Wassup fools!?!

dungeon-keeper

TBoD is back. After a week off due to illness (both mental and physical) and a celebration of new life we have returned for your listening (dis) pleasure. We do our best to catch up on two weeks worth of exciting gaming news including;

Evolve – a 4vs1 shooter from the team behind the awesome L4D,

BF4 – Resuming the stream of DLC coming out from Dice/EA and the implications on the buggy game itself,

Uncharted territory for Seth Gordon, the front runner to bring Drakes adventures to the big screen,

Titanfall – We couldn’t ignore the Xbox/PC exclusive this week of all weeks,

Sonic Boom - The return of the blue blur with a new look,

Destiny – Is the pressure going to get to Bungie as Activision/Blizzard announce expectations,

Elder Scrolls Online – Cause we can.

As always we have our regular segment “we called the dog…” in which eremenko talks about SpaceBase df-9

As always likecomscribe, hit us up on twitter, facebook etc keep an eye out for our streams and stay safe kids.

- menko

A Klaus Call <—– right click and choose save as to download

The TBoD Podcast – 45 – Redacted

Yo,

Welcome to another edition of the TBoD podcast.

Hot off the press, onto our lips, and into your ears this week::

The greatest battle evaaaarrrr, and the aftermath.

DayZ updates.

Nintendo boss halves salary.

Elder Scrolls Online will not require PS+.

EA ruin some more stuff.

Octodad gets even more hilariously ridiculous?

Wolf Among Us episode 2 teaser released.

Our indie game is The Vanishing of Ethan Carter; a beautiful-looking Horror Fiction.

Right-click here then Save As to download

Enjoy and leave a comment if you like.

From Masyaf to Revelations – Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed through the First Four

If you’ve followed the last couple of TBoD podcasts (what am I saying – of course you have!) then you’ve noticed that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has been given the thumbs up by both Quim and Crim.

(No word from Eremenko yet, but these links make the think he’ll be jumping in soon.)

So since we’re all in the Creed-y mood, this is the perfect time for me to sound off about my recent play-throughs of the first four Assassin’s Creed games (Assassin’s Creed through Revelations).

While not exhaustive, this is a list of what stuck out to me during these last few months of protecting humanity from the shadows. I hope you enjoy, and many thanks to the Teabag Or Die crew for letting me be a part of this site!

It builds character

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a character again – I haven’t spent this much time with a single protagonist since my NES days when I was stomping Koopas. Altair (from the first game in the series) stayed distant, but it’s Ezio Auditore (Assassin’s Creed II through Revelations) that has really pulled me into the story of the series.

Ezio (Brotherhood)

The man, the myth, the legend – Ezio “you’ll never see my eyes until it’s too late” Auditore

Through his multi-game story arc I have the chance to follow Ezio from (literal) birth through the course of his adventure-filled life, and my experience is richer each time I revisit the world because of how far I’ve traveled with this character.

For me, Ezio’s personal story carries more weight than Altair’s for one simple reason – family. While Altair’s opening loss in Assassin’s Creed is a loss of pride, Ezio’s opening loss of family gives his journey a stronger cord that pulls you deeper into the gameplay and story.

Besides the main assassins of the series, the supporting cast have enriched the game world as well. Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, a host of other historical notables, and family members of the Auditore family have made me care about the protagonists – and the goals they set – as the games have gone on.

ezio_and_leonardo_screenshot_by_jakiron-d5560q0

Supporting characters help the story, and also provide tips on hats

It’s easy to forget how important secondary characters are, but they can strengthen a good plot or save a poor one. For the Assassin’s Creed series, so far it’s been the latter.

The Matter of Maps

I couldn’t have appreciated the maps of these games without first playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While I still plan to go back to the land of Cyrodiil, I was incredibly frustrated with how the map was set up in the game.

The Oblivion map has two settings - you’re either looking at the entire world or the immediate area around your character, and it’s difficult to get a true sense of where you’ve been or what’s in your immediate area. While the differing map function may reflect the different styles of the two series, I’m a fan of how Creed does it.

My favorite kind of map - the kind that actually shows you things

My favorite kind of map – the kind that actually shows you things

I originally thought the thing I loved most about games was exploring, but it turns out that’s only half right. I love exploring, but I also love to be able to see where I’ve been – to have a sense that I’ve conquered a world, every nook and cranny. A map is the chief way I can see that happen, and the Assassin’s Creed series does a great job of making me feel like I’ve investigated every inch of the world.

A Family Affair

Playing through the series with my family is something I’ve been blest with over the course of these five games. Thankfully my wife knew what she was getting into – in our first year of marriage she watched me play through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - so to jump into these games with her has been fantastic.

But she’s not the only one – this is one of the first games the kids have been able to watch me play through. No, they don’t watch all of the gameplay, but I love introducing them to one of my favorite pastimes in bite-size chucks.

To illustrate, here are what the games involve as far as my children know:

  • You get to ride a horse, but not only that – you can whistle for it anywhere and it will come to you
  • Climbing is not really dangerous because there is always a pile of hay to soften that sudden stop at the end
  • Guards, while only doing their job, are to be avoided. When a group of them start to get close, I was instantly warned to be careful
  • Did I mention you get a ride a horse? That’s all they need to know – game of the year
Fun fact - this horse is the actual horse you hear during the quick-fire stat

Fun fact – this horse is the actual horse you hear during the quick-fire stat

Nothing is true except this statement

Assassin’s Creed is postmodernism in game form. “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” is not only the assassin’s maxim but a tidy summary of what postmodernism (in general) tries to say.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations went deeper into what the creed means as Ezio looked back on Altair’s motivations for why he did what he did, and the commitment to this line of thought is commendable.

It’s not a dish I prescribe to, but it’s good to know what you are served with any time you’re consuming media – and the fact that the game has a message is one of the reasons the story stays strong throughout the series.

Extended Creed

When I take on a fiction, I’m usually all in. How many ion cannons did the second Death Star have? Tell me. The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) was build above Mars in the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards? I need to know about it. Aragorn was the sixteenth Chieftain of the Dunedain, the title taken by the Heirs of Isuldur after the last kingdom of Arnor was destroyed? I’ll remember that quicker than my own address.

This is why I’ve enjoyed the extras Ubisoft has added to the universe in order to give those who want more, more. LineageAscendance and Embers (especially Embers) are three films that not only added to the story but also to its impact.

"Revelations" finished Ezio's story, but "Embers" gave you his final fate and legacy

“Revelations” finished Ezio’s story, but “Embers” gave you his final fate and legacy

The more character development to you supply, the more power the story can have through continued connection with the gamer. The films I mentioned – as well as comics and other resources - take players deeper into a world they love, and I don’t take that for granted.

Sounds from the Rooftops

Not since the Halo Series has a soundtrack fed so well into the gameplay. The great Jasper Kyd composed from the first game through Revelations, and his music … wait for it … hits all the right notes.

Giving you that epic feeling at just the right time, pulling on the heartstrings when the drama kicks in, and the intensity punch when you’re discovered and have to run for your life – Kyd does it all fantastically.

First Person Perspective

Playing through the games back to back (as opposed to the year most people had to wait) made me realize I missed a feature I didn’t initially know was there – first-person perspective.

As I was playing Assassin’s Creed II I happened to hit the joystick down and WHAM – I’m looking right out the eye-holes of the main character. And once I found that out, I couldn’t stop doing it. Taking in Venice from every rooftop, gazing up from a gondola at night and watching the moon rise, climbing the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and being able to stare out at the city as dawn approached – having the first person perspective allowed for much more immersion during these memorable moments.

I missed being able to look over my shoulder in "Revelations"

I missed being able to look over my shoulder in “Revelations”

In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the ability to see through eyes of Ezio was taken away – and my game experience suffered because of it. The vistas of Constantinople didn’t have the same opportunity to wow me as previous settings had, simply because I had to looking past my character’s shoulder.

Of course the landscapes are still spectacular, but they could have been even better in Revelations if the ability to look through your assassin’s eyes would have been left in tact.

Seeing the Layers

When playing a game you accept that certain things happens off screen. As a plot carries on, you’re usually given cutscenes or flashbacks that give the player the sense of a larger game afoot, of other things happening.

What I feel the Assassin’s Creed series does so well was is to  show you those layers, in all there reaction and indifference. When you fail a jump and land on top of a crowd, they scatter and your actions from that moment on affect the surroundings and game flow. But if you keep your balance and stay above, you need never interact with the ground level.

How much you want to be a part of the goings on in the street is up to you

How much you want to be a part of the goings on in the street is up to you

The citizens of Acre and Monteriggioni would never know the drama happening right above them, of your important missions or how so many things hang in the balance. The Creed games literally show you that instead of explaining or montage-ing it, and it’s another positive in the immersion category.

Shared Memories

Speaking of landscapes, the vistas of the Assassin’s Creed games often adorn my desktop background at work, and that has lead to several comments of “where is that?” from coworkers, who are seemingly disappointed when I tell them it’s a game I play.

But I had an unexpected surprise from one coworker – she returned from a trip to Italy, which coincided with my play-through of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood, both set in The Boot.

It was amazing to hear about her experiences and see her photos from Rome, Florence and other cities, and feel like I had been there as well. Yes the cities are not an exact replication and the well-known landmarks of each city are brought closer together in the game world, but the general feel – the grandeur, the bustle, the sense of history – is all there.

"I've been there." "Hey, me too!"

“I’ve been there.” “Hey, me too!”

To be able to share my enjoyment with the games with someone who’s never played them was something I didn’t see coming – two people brought together over the same place, the only difference being how that location was represented.

(As an added bonus, I also found out she’s played through Ocarina of Time. Respect.)

The Bleeding Effect

Embracing a franchise means my time with the game doesn’t just involve me playing through it, but thinking about it off screen and seeing different aspects of it pushing out into other parts of my life.

Those “other parts” include but are not limited to the following:

Books – reading The Knight in History by Frances Gies was one of the reasons I started playing through the first Assassin’s Creed, and it certainly enhanced the experience by providing a factual background to the medieval world of a knight.

Gies Knight

Leo's Notebooks

Leonardo’s Notebooks also caught my eye in a local bookstore, and the entire period of the Italian Renaissance is something I find myself wanting to learn more about. I have Assassin’s Creed II to thank for that.

Parkour all Over – after playing these games, every surface around me suddenly seems the ideal surface to vault over or perch on. Water towers, ladders, random boxes – no longer just everyday objects, they now seem the perfect place to get a lay of the land if need be.

Not that Impressed – I recently watched The Bourne Identity, and there’s a part early on the film where Jason Bourne escapes pursuit by climbing down the wall of an American embassy.

While the Bourne Trilogy is one of the best collection of action movies around, I found myself not that impressed with the wall-scaling of the hero. “I’ve done that” came to mind and while unfair, it’s interesting in just how many ways games can affect the way we see other media.

Many Doll House

The Assassin’s Creed series brings you into history, but it also lets you own a little part of it.

Ezio's Room (AC2)

While my in-game character never sits in that chair, I like to think that he does after I turn the console off

Emphasized in Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, you home base was place you could invest in – spruce up with art, view portraits of past targets, see the tombs of previous assassin’s, etc. Throughout the games it was a place I always loved to come back to – it really made you feel like it was where you belonged … and that’s just what home should be.

Back to the Colonies

I’m (predictably) currently playing Assassin’s Creed III and still enjoying the series – there’s an adjustment period when moving to a new main character (Altair to Ezio, now Ezio to Connor) but after a slow start I’m hitting the sweet spot.

And then it’s onto more Pirate-y things!

The TBoD Podcast – 44 – The Teabag or Die Saga

Howdy partners

The whole crew is back this week to go through the latest gaming news, along with our views and opinions.

This week, we discuss:

Sony announcement – what could it be?

The solution to gamer rage?

Bound by Flame

Medieval fantasy epic, Kingdom Come Deliverance

Banished release date confirmed

Assassin’s Creed future settings

Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor announced, not without controversy

Lastly, we discuss some copyright issues around last week’s indie game, the Banner Saga

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Enjoy and leave a comment if you like.

The TBoD Podcast – 43 – The Neverending Tangent

Yo homies,

Another weekly digest of gaming news, views, and the inevitable tangents you all love us for.

This week we talk about:

Rust and DayZ – sources http://playrust.com/intro-video/http://www.incgamers.com/2014/01/facepunch-knocked-out-by-rust-sales-figures, and http://kotaku.com/dayz-or-rust-which-players-are-friendlier-1501109843?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Twitter&utm_source=Kotaku_Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow

The Last of Us DLC - http://m.uk.ign.com/articles/2014/01/13/your-first-look-at-the-last-of-us-single-player-dlc

PS Plus free game news - http://www.gamepur.com/news/13285-ps-free-games-february-2014-leaked-outlast-ps4-bioshock-infinite-metro-last.html

The Banner Saga - http://store.steampowered.com/app/237990/ and http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-banner-saga-review/1900-6415626/

Xbox One features in action - http://kotaku.com/the-xbox-one-can-do-a-lot-more-than-you-might-think-1501411519

The return of Shooter’s Corner – Evolve - http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/01/07/evolve-first-gameplay-and-multiplayer-class-details-revealed

We Called the Dog… - http://kotaku.com/sick-of-shooters-heres-a-mind-bending-first-person-pu-1497750193?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Twitter&utm_source=Kotaku_Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow

Enjoy!

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Don’t Starve: Console edition – A survivors guide

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Don’t starve focuses on the adventures of Wilson the gentleman scientist and was first released by Klei entertainment (Eets, Shank, Mark of the Ninja) on PC April 2013 now however this absorbing little title has made it’s way to PS4 and the PS+ service.

Most of the fellow PS4 owner I have spoken to about it have really struggled to get started but as someone who adopted the game early on PC I thought I would write up a little starter guide to get you newbies through the first few nights, a lot of the beauty of this game comes from discovery so only read that which you really need to survive.

The absolute most important thing you are going to need to survive is a light source, a torch will save you in a bind but it won’t last you an entire night, you are going to need a fire, preferably you want a fire pit but a regular campfire will do for the first night. To do this you will need to gather sticks and flint and some grass for kindling … quickly, search your surroundings for those also picking any berries, carrots and seeds you can find. By all means munch some of these up if you get hungry but they are better if you cook them on your fire. So make an axe take down some trees to get some logs, you will need two and three grass to make a campfire. If you can manage it crafting a pick axe and mining some stone will give you a far superior fire-pit but you will need twelve stone too. Once your fire is lit you will need to ensure it stays burning through the night so make sure you have some spare logs on hand to stoke those flames. Once it’s burning cook up any food you have and get stuck into some nom noms. An important part of making survival as easy as possibly is the correct placement of your base camp, if you don’t manage to make a firepit you can always relocate but if you have a fire pit try to place it nearby some berry bushes, grass nodes an most importantly some rabbit holes… these will soon become your easiest and modes satisfying food source.

Quick quide (Day 1 minimum requirements: two flint, two sticks, five logs, three grass, food)

<Day 1 recommended requirements lots of flint, lots of sticks, lots of grass, lots of logs, twelve stone>

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On the second day your main goal is either to find some stone (if you haven’t already built your fire pit) or to start harvesting food. The easiest way to do this is to make a bunch of traps (six grass, two sticks) which can be found in the survival tab of your inventory. Once you’ve made a couple drop them over the top of rabbit holes and leave them for half a day or so, when you return to them they should be filled with tasty rabbit. You can then murder the poor buggers and turn them into tasty morsels which you can cook up on your fire. The next thing you should ideally achieve on the first day is collecting some gold. Look for a rocky area and try to ferret out some of the larger rocks with the gold veins running through them and mine those up. You will also need more logs and stone if possible, don’t use all your logs up because you will need them to add fuel to your fire through the night. If you have plenty though four logs four rocks and one gold will allow you to make a science machine which will allow you to prototype some new tools and inventions which will aid your efforts to live on.

(Day 2 minimum requirements: Stone, Logs, traps, food)

<Day 2 recommended requirements: All of the above plus gold)

By day three you should start to become more comfortable with the mechanics of survival in this weird and wonderful world and it’s time to concern yourself with protecting yourself and your assets, you can do this a couple of ways, items don’t despawn if you leave them on the ground (but don’t drop them too close to your fire) or you can build a chest to store your things, if your lucky you might find an eyeball on a stick which will grant you the company of chesty the chest monster (you can get him to stay at your base if you lead him there and place the eye stick inside his storage). The next thing to do is plant trees all around your base, you should have plenty of pinecones from your much chopping of trees, plant quite a few but save some in your inventory in case of emergency. If you’ve gathered plenty of stone you can refine that into cut stone and use that to create walls (don’t bother with straw or wood walls they are really worthless). Your base will never be truely safe because you can’t make a door but a few walls will make you feel a lot better on those scary dark nights.

(Day 3 minimum requirements: Science Machine, Chest, walls)

images4

Extra hints;

- Don’t attack bees, it wont end well,

- Chopping wood is all well and good but should you upset a tree beast he can be calmed simply by planing enough pinecones,

- Food is important, you can eat berries, seeds, flowers and all but the real boost comes from meat. Get traps and nets as soon as you can then focus on trying to make all of the items in the food tab,

- If something looks nasty, it probably is do not provoke them,

- Spiders are a great source of loot and mats that you will need, don’t be reckless though, use traps and cunning to thin their numbers before hitting the nest.

images2

Ok everyone, hopefully this will help you to survive in don’t starve, just stay calm and keep plugging away.

eremenko

The TBoD Podcast – 42 – Sit On Your Hands.

Waddup,

More pod goodness to nourish your ears has arrived, full of anti-oxidants and anti-matter.

We discussed a couple of the recent gaming announcements from CES, the main being the reveal of PlayStation Now.

We also get the chills over the latest game involving everyone’s favourite Xenomorph – Alien Isolation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meNE4CPtnCo

We also talk about our feelings toward Infamous Second Son and wax lyrical about the announcement that Titanfall will be 6 vs 6.

We also talk about the newest bit of concept art from 343 for Halo for Xbox One as well as the change of guard with another departure from the team, as well as our hopes for the future of Halo.

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Enjoy and leave a comment if you like.

The TBoD Podcast – Journey Special Adventurecast

We go on an expedition with Justin from Drunken Halo to discuss one of the top rated games of 2012, PS3 exclusive Journey!

Come join us as we trek through our thoughts on the game!

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The TBoD Podcast – Episode 41 – New Year HD Resolutions

Happy Ne Year Teabaggers!

We ring in 2014 with a new podcast for your delectation.

We talk about all kinds, from games for the Occulus Rift and Sony’s counterpart and similar technologies that track eye movement inbound this year. We also talk about the free games coming  to your Xbox’s and PlayStation’s in January

We also discuss the latest audacious project from the Skyrim modding community and our indie game of the week is a Survival RTS called Banished which has us all worked up.

Enjoy and best wishes for the New Year!

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The TBoD Christmas Podcast – 40 – The Three Wise Geeks.

Happy Holidays!

In this very special episode we put the Merry in Christmas by keeping the booze flowing during our first ever live-stream!

We sing songs, pull crackers and give some christmas awards out as well give you some of our thoughts on the Steam Machine Beta, Dying Light and the new Bioware games in development.

Keep up to date with when we live stream by subscribing to our UStream channel.

Got any suggestions on what you would like us to talk about? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!

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Xmas Rockband Session

Crinbot and Quim prepare for an Xmas Rockband Session

The Christmas Crocodile joins us on the podcast

The Christmas Crocodile joins us on the podcast

 

The PlayStation 4 – Part 3 – Near Far Wherever you are ……

You can play on your PS fooooouuuur…. *ahem* *cough* er …. anyway, So launch day came and went with the TBoD alumni emerging victorious with PS4′s in hand, and as you know from Quims posts about the hardware and the games we are having somewhat of an epic time with our machines. One of the things he has not had a chance to play with is one of the things that excited me most pre launch (especially after I picked up my Vita) Remote Play!

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PS4, Vita and you … the perfect three-way?

This is nothing new really, it was touted as a massive feature with the PS3 and the PSP but it never really managed to get off the ground, partly due to lack of support but also due to the restraints of the PSP system. Still it was something that Sony would continue to tout and the introduction of the Vita to the picture in 2011 would force the issue a little further.

Titles such as Little Big Planet, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD and The God of War Collection HD supported full remote playability but these Sony in house titles alone were not enough to draw more people into buying the Vita itself. The announcement of heavy support for the PS4 remote play feature however set a few tongues wagging.

Enough of the history lesson let’s talk about how it fairs.

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I love this horse and this affection is not scale dependant

I want to make it clear that this is by no means a perfect system and it certainly has it’s flaws. First and foremost if you don’t like gaming on a handheld system this feature is not for you, the screen is small so you’re gonna need to focus. The Vita screen is a beautiful thing, those OLED’s sparkle and pop when playing a Vita title but that shine is taken away somewhat when playing Remote Play, games which run at 60fps on your PS4 will only display 30fps on the Vita screen and the resolution leaves a little to be desired, textures are a lot muddier and in general it’s not the ideal way to admire the gorgeous graphics of your brand new £350 system.

The truth of the matter is though it’s an unrivaled system that is excellently executed (not perfect, but still fucking ace). What’s not to love, well there are some things, some really freaking massive things that will drive you to the borders of madness in fact, but on the whole it works really well and you can literally play your ps4 games from anywhere that you have access to a decent enough internet connection which is just class. With 4G fast taking over the world it’s only a matter of time before you literally do not have to go without some next gen console action wherever you are. Now I have tested this theory, I have played Battlefield 4 from a house some 4-5 miles away from my own, admittedly this was using a 60mb internet connection but the experience was as close to flawless as I could have possibly expected (playing it on hard was probably a mistake) and I was very impressed with the responsiveness and just the plain fact that I could access my PS4 dash from somewhere else was so pleasing.

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I literally never have to be separated from you again PS4!

At present it literally works with every single game available for the system, Sony are playing their cards close to the chest but indications are that this will continue to be the case, the software is written into the machines OS (once you’ve downloaded the day one update) and chances are every game for the PS4 will be playable via remote play and that is some feat. The Vita has all the input options needed to fully emulate the DS4  it does a stand up job all told, the front screen emulates the track pad (and does an arguably better job while it’s at it) the sticks work well, the triggers are automatically mapped to the bumpers which makes playing FPS games a damn sight easier, even the motion controls from the DS4 can be replicated by the Vita and most importantly the extra analogue stick which was so sadly lacking on the PSP is there and it makes all the difference, this is how we play. Nearly all games now use the dual-stick input method and it had to be done for this function to work properly.

That’s all well and good but it does have a couple of issues when it comes to controls, the sticks are no where near as precise as those on the DS4 (probably more precise than a DS3 though) and you only have one set of shoulder buttons (the rear track pad emulates l1, r1, l3 and r3 it’s not perfect but it’s manageable with a little practice). The controls do respond pretty well but there is a noticeable input lag even when playing on your own local network (it’s noticeable but only very slightly).

.A small caveat for some reason at time of writing my Remote play does not allow me to watch Netflix, I find this a little strange but I imagine that it’s something to do with Licensing and the ability to use the same Netflix account in two places simultaneously? This wouldn’t be an issue were it possible to get the Vita Netflix app here in the UK …. we’re still waiting over for Sony/Netflix to pull their fingers out.

Probably my biggest complaint about the system is that there is simply no way to party chat, you can party up from the vita to the PS4 no problem what-so-ever, I can be playing Gravity Rush and chatting away to my friend on PS4 playing BF4 with the greatest of ease but as soon as I fire up remote play my Vita party chart app closes down this would be fine were it not for the fact that the Vitas built in mic is not recognized by the system during Remote Play and thus you cannot talk in a PS4 party, you can listen but not talk. Many people have suggested simply keeping your headset plugged into your DS4, not possible when you activate Remote play the DS4 disconnects, when you re-activate the DS4 the Vita disconnects, it’s infuriating. Hopefully this is something they can remedy in a further update but I don’t have the answer to that right now sadly.

“What else can it do?” I hear you ask, well in addition to Remote Play the Vita can also serve as your second screen device, it’s not something I have had the pleasure of fully using yet but with such a focus this generation on the second screen experience I think this will prove to be a vital tool. All I have used it for so far is to avoid the pain in the ass of having to manually input each letter of every password and every account name, the Vita’s touch screen makes text entry so much easier, although admittedly this can be done with any Smart Phone hooked up to the system using the new PlayStation App.

Maybe it’s not perfect in all aspects but it’s an idea that with refinement could really take off. As Sony and third party developers create more games that support cross platform play, more games that focus on Vita support and more importantly take into consideration the Vita’s many control mechanisms I can honestly see it growing stronger. Right now however it’s more fun to use for something like DC universe or contrast where super responsiveness isn’t all that important rather than something like Battlefield or Resogun where speed and efficiency can make the difference between life and death.

- eremenko

The TboD Podcast – 39 – A Subtle Nonce To It

The podcast is quite al fresco this week, but our lack of prep is made up by added enthusiasm.

We make a special shout out to the podcasting crews of Postgame Carnage Report and Drunken Halo for their immense generosity to Eagleman, on of their listeners. Check out the video Eagleman made here.

We also airs our thoughts on the crisis that professional YouTuber’s are facing, the content creator that was recently introduced into GTAV and Destiny’s release date and hints at how multiplayer will work.

Our indie pick this week is Grapple Knight, a lovely 2D platformer that is introducing some new mechanics to the genre.

Happy listening peeps, hope you enjoy it.

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