TBoD Podcast – Episode 8 – Random Access Mammaries

Better late than never, here is Episode 8!

Today we talk about the Beyond Two Souls 35 minute trailer.

We mutter about Microsoft’s next-gen console release date and their plans for pizza domination.

We peer at Watch Dogs and its release date.

We also get brainwashed by a viral video for GTA V.

And we talk about how awesome the upcoming old school gaming expo NERG is going to be.

Plus we highlight medical applications of Tetris.

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The 8 bit intro music is credited to Floating Point – check his channel out and download the track from the link on the video

The Next Generation Xbox: How Microsoft Could Nail It

DealWithIt

The next generation of consoles is coming in 2013. Technically, the next generation is here, but it’s embarrassing and Nintendo doesn’t want to talk about it. Sony announced the PlayStation 4 along with most of the details necessary for the gaming community to start salivating as well as a release date of “holiday season 2013.” And now the final (major) player sent out an announcement for the next generation Xbox reveal.

Microsoft’s next generation Xbox, codenamed “Durango” and rumored to be “Xbox 720” is the last console to be announced, but it is arguably getting the most attention. Yes, everyone is talking about the new girl next door and all her specs, but the rumors regarding the 720 (what I’ve decided to call it) have not let up. Some of the speculation became so hot as to boil over into an upper Microsoft manager being fired. It is quite enjoyable to see the beginnings of the latest battle in the console war take shape.

Microsoft is in a great position to strategically outmaneuver Sony and it will be interesting to see how they handle each of the strategic categories I will cover.

  • Always on – this would be strategic suicide. No one wants this. I used to be neutral on this point, but I have turned to the negative. Microsoft should not require gamers to always be connected to the internet to play games. Routers and modems break, the internet goes out, and the wires get dug up and chewed on by the dog. Don’t do it.
  • On that point, second-hand games. Should Microsoft kill off second-hand games? Sony and Microsoft are playing the corporate version of Chicken. No one wants to be the first to say their company is shutting down the used game market, but someone has to do it. However, the first console to admit to doing this will catch the most flack while the other can quietly slip into the club. I am a firm believer that the second-hand/used game market should be shut down. I touched on this idea before in an article I co-authored; money should go to the developers, not Gamestop et al. [I can be a grammar nerd] And I say this with sly humor with a touch of sarcastic reality: Deal With It.DealWithIt meme Developers should be clamoring for this as they need any revenue they can get and gamers should welcome it so developers have additional resources to produce more content. This would also provide a more recurring revenue stream for developers since they can reduce the games’ prices the further it is from release and still bring in sales.On a rabbit trail, Gamestop should be working their strategic asses off to develop a deal with developers to create a semi-second-hand market for next generation games. If they want to keep this as any part of their revenue stream, it would be wise to sign some overarching deal of sorts where they would pay developers their rightful royalty to any of the games Gamestop sells second-hand. I think Gamestop is in trouble for many more reasons, but at least they have other business lines.
  • Backwards compatibility – Sony established that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible; will Microsoft do the same? There are many sides to this question. Hardware wise, a whole new system will make it difficult to be backwards compatible, especially if Microsoft does it right and puts out some quality hardware. It is a difficult thing to do – we all witnessed the backward compatibility fiasco that was Xbox 360. On the other hand, gamers want backwards compatibility. Who wants to buy a new system with very few games available when the current consoles have thousands? The 720 will have a huge leg up on the PS4 if Microsoft makes the 720 backwards compatible.
  • Make the 720 something that can easily be coded on. There is a shift occurring in gaming – the coming of the casual gamer. This trend is mated with the coming of the independent developers. Just look at Journey winning Game of the Year at GDCA. Many of these indie games are on the PS3 platform exclusively even though the Xbox was meant to be a haven for these types of games. Microsoft should bend over backwards to gain the trust and, most importantly, games of indie developers. This is the future of gaming.
  • Make Kinect awesome. Make it magical. Make it something people would buy not because of the gimmick factor but because it is something we cannot game without. Create a contest for developers for the best implementation of Kinect and see what happens; two categories: indie and bigbox. Also, include it with every Xbox starting at release.
  • Do not call it the 720. I know, I, along with most of the game industry media, am already guilty of doing this, but I am tired of all this spinning and ending up exactly where we were. It is representative of a hamster wheel – working very hard with absolutely no progress. This is not the type of marketing Microsoft should desire in their product’s name. Take a cue from Apple’s marketing and call it: the new Xbox.
  • While we are talking of cues from Apple, here is another one: Announce the 720 – err…new Xbox – on May 21st and launch it on June 21st. This would send Sony reeling and it would be difficult to catch up from the momentum Xbox would build. Isn’t the holiday season a better release date? Perhaps, but a certain three month time period is about to begin where kids and college students have much more free time. I would not doubt parents would be willing to keep them entertained, quiet, and (hopefully) out of trouble. This brings me to my next point:
  • Have a formidable lineup of launch titles. Microsoft absolutely must get this right with a quick launch after announcement.
  • Here is my quick list of things Microsoft needs to at least match Sony on:
    • Improve the controller, but not too much (“don’t fix what ain’t broke”)
    • Integrate Kinect with the controller
    • Hardware specs
    • Share button
    • Instant on capability
    • Playing games/DLC while they are still completing their download
    • HD capable optical drive, most likely Blue-ray – Microsoft lost this battle, own it
    • 4K video capability. Microsoft should learn their lesson from my previous point

Microsoft could do some amazing things with the next generation Xbox, but will they? With their track record, it is difficult to predict what will actually happen. I look forward to the 21st to find out.

Let me know your thoughts on the next generation of consoles. Also, I love point and counterpointing in the comments. You can also find me on the social networks below.

Cheers,

The Wach

Twitter: @the_wach

Email: the.wach@ymail.com

PS: I do not own a PS3, but did own a PS2. I migrated to Xbox for two reasons: Halo and the PS controllers hurt my hands after 20 minutes of gameplay. The PS4’s controllers look like they may be more ergonomically pleasing for me.

TBoD TV – Episode 1 – BattleBlock Theater

Hello Internets! In this first ever TBoD episode we play Battleblock Theater on INSANE MODE because, well we aren’t sure why… Just watch and troll away in the comments. Thanks!

TBoD Podcast – Spoilercast – Bioshock Infinite

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We have a bonus episode this week for all of you who enjoyed Bioshock Infinite.

Myself (Quim), Eremenko and Cartoon Robinson sit down and get into the nitty-gritty of the game. We discuss what we made of the storyline, the game design and graphics, the epic music and of course try our best to analyse that ending!

This episode does not merely just contain spoilers for Bioshock Infinite, it is in actual fact ONE BIG SPOILERZORD, so if you have not played it or have yet to complete it then DO NOT listen until you have.

If you want express your opinion on Infinite please leave a comment, we will be happy to discuss the game with you!

Right click this link and choose ‘Save Link As’ to download this as an mp3

 

TBoD Podcast – Episode 7 – Bi-Planes to X-Wings

We are joined by guest host CartoonRobinson from ArtHeroes.co.uk for the first of two casts this week!

In it we talk;

– HD remakes

– The week in X720 rumours

– The prefect length for a game

– Day Z Dev blog and some interesting rumours

– The effect of the recession on Scrouge McDuck

– An interesting marriage proposal

– Girl scouts ……. erm.

– Star Wars

– Microsoft to reward MSP for playing …. in Japan

All while avoiding spoilers on Tomb Raider and saying “like” a lot.

So if your lugholes tire from the sounds of life have a little listen and as ever let us know what you think. You can rejoin the three of us later this week for our Bioshock Infinite SpoilerCast special NB it will have spoilers in it … the clue’s in the name.

As always you can listen right here on the page or hit the download link below. (also on iTunes, OneCast and so on)

Right Click and Choose ‘Save Link As’ to Download this Episode.

Player 2. Please Press Start.

In the past I have written plenty of reviews and offered up my opinions in a couple of pieces on various aspects of the gaming industry as a whole. But this week I take a bit of a departure from the norm, partly due to time constraints in playing anything new or indeed anything at all, and also the thought that I would get a little personal with some scratchings about why I love games. Hopefully you may identify with my sentiments, maybe not, regardless I hope you at least don’t skip straight to the TLDR section (however comments saying you did are welcome)

Like most of you reading I have played video-games since I was a kid, I personally would pile round my buddy’s houses to hunch in front of these almost mythical screens in which you inserted tapes or rather large floppy squares then pick up the keyboard or joystick and move some magical character or another across some crazy levels. Unlike my friends, as a youngster I did not own any of the Commodore’s or Amiga’s in their various flavours as my folks couldn’t really shell out for such extravagances, they were content for me to play outside in the back lane and, for time at least I must have been as well. I guess the nagging must have kicked in at some point for them though because one christmas my brother and I were rewarded with something rather special.  My first console, the SNES, oh how I loved that space age contraption in all its two-tone grey glory, I was mesmerised by every pixel that box projected in front of me and spent many a joyous time playing Donkey Kong Country or some such.

Now you are probably thinking “Jesus, another article where some guy languishes in nostalgia that no-one really gives a shit about” – half right I guess, but there is one little snippet from this genesis which I would like to highlight. This SNES was gifted to me and my brother, my Player 2 and my point is it’s this second player that I relish as much as the games themselves, sharing the experience with another real life person. Alas my brother hardly plays ‘games'(vb) now, or certainly not the same one’s as me, but all is not lost because I have new player 2’s and 3’s and 4’s, a whole community of people who I love playing games with, whether they be old school friends, or just good people smattered across the earth that I met via some online medium.

TL:DR I guess what I am trying to say is, for me, gaming is a unique and superior experience over every other kind of media. When I watch a movie, good or bad, I remember the movie. When I play a game, whether I am good or bad, I remember not only the game but who I played the game with and can discuss and laugh over that moment of skill or epic fail.

Graphics are great, but that shared experience with your player 2? That’s what counts.

TBoD Podcast – Episode 6 – Console Klepto

Word to your Matriarchal Figure,

This week we make a ton of shoutouts,

Talk about the the new Thief game

We mention the new platformer on all platforms Battleblock Theater

We also discuss the usual rumours for the next Xbox and answer some listeners questions including “What is our Everest Game?”

We mention a ton of other stuff I cannot recall when typing this….

We forget to talk about the Castle Map Pack for Halo 4 .. So stay tuned for next week for that!

By request here is our RSS Feed Link

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Review: Bioshock Infinite

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God only knows what I’d be without you…

Before we get going, I must admit that over the last couple of years I haven’t had the time, or the money to splash out on every big title release. If I’m going to invest anything from 12-50 hours on a game, then I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my time, or slogging my way through a story which I don’t care about, with characters that are less engaging than a Mii avatar. But with the return of the Bioshock series, there was never any doubt that I’d be picking this up, and within 10 minutes of playing, it all came flooding back…

Or did it? On the surface it doesn’t seem to follow the mould of Bioshock. No Rapture, no confined spaces, and the dark dreariness is replaced with saturation all round. This time the story takes place on the floating city of Colombia, which was built to spread the word of the American dream. You take up the role of Booker Dewitt, an ex Pinkerton, and now private investigator who has been given the job of bringing a girl back from Columbia, and wiping away his debt. Seems simple enough.

But of course it never is, or at least, never should be, and the story gathers momentum at just the right pace before turning everything on its head, shaking you about, putting you back down again, and telling you to get on your way. The introduction of Elizabeth is perfect, and its credit to Ken Lavine and his design team that she is so appealing, aesthetically and vocally. You want to spend time with this character, and rather than be a hindrance as some secondary characters are, Elizabeth always feels like she belongs there with you. In fact, she is often helping you out by throwing medical kits, ammo, salts etc. when you’re running low. She is a great addition to say the least, and if you don’t believe me, look at some of the marriage proposals on Twitter.

bioshock-infinite-screenshot-elizabeth

The gameplay has moved away slightly from the previous Bioshock’s, and Infinte feels more like a standard shooter. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, and with the Skyhook, Booker’s melee weapon, and transport all wrapped up in one, you can change the dimension of a fight in an instant. One moment you’re desperately taking cover, the next you’re speeding through the sky on a make shift rollercoaster while firing at enemies. It’s great fun, but it perhaps could have been pushed even further, and used more often. The plasmids of Bioshock 1 and 2 are replaced with Vigor’s, which essentially do the same trick. They never feel quite as fun as they did in the originals, though, but are handy nonetheless. Another small gripe is on Xbox and PS3, you can only carry two weapons at a time, which obviously doesn’t happen on PC, and when changing Vigor’s, it sometimes feel like a break in the action. These are minor things, however, and don’t really detract from what is a great FPS. The hacking mini games are missing in Infinite, but for me, it’s not a departure I miss. Instead, Elizabeth will unlock doors and safes for you, providing you’ve found enough lockpicks on your travels.

Visually, this game pushes the current gen consoles to the limit, and if anything, a little too far. Some of the textures on PS3 I noticed were a little messy, as the developers fought to make this look as beautiful as possible. It kind of made me want to have played this on PC, which from what I’ve seen, looks incredible. That’s not to say it doesn’t look like fantastic on the console, mind. I have heard that it looks a tad better on PS3 than Xbox, so if you have the choice, it may be worth picking it up on that. The research that has gone into creating a believable city is amazing. Rapture was one of the most atmospheric settings in any game, and Columbia carries on this trend. The game is set in 1912, some 50 years prior to the original, but the technology is still decades ahead of its time. The developers have pulled out all the stops with the design. It has a feeling of Atlantic City in its heyday, with boardwalks, beaches and a good old fashioned funfair, complete with a few mini games. The locations never feel stale, and there is always something on offer, even in the few sections of the game where you revisit the same locations. You really feel like the city is alive, and if you take your time soaking up all the city has to offer, you’ll immerse yourself even deeper in this world, and add a couple of hours of gameplay to boot. It’s fantastic how the mood can change so drastically in just a few seconds, by changing the lighting and setting. For my money, I enjoyed the setting of Columbia more than Rapture. It has more life, more believability, and more surprises.

I could talk about this game forever, and plan to, but probably not here, as I’ll spoil it all for you. This game isn’t quite perfect, but to me, it is so, so close to it. If you’re a fan of a gaming, and don’t play this, you’re missing out on one of the best, if not the best game on this console generation. I don’t think I’ll play a game that will come close to this for a long time.

Cartoon Robinson

http://www.leerobinsondraws.co.uk

TBoD Podcast – Episode 5 – You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

Another week, another podcast

This time round we lament the loss of Lucasarts and all the games it has gifted us in the years gone past.

We also discuss the recent twitter drama which reignited some less than savoury rumours about the next Xbox.

We also wax lyrical about the beginning of the end for The War Z, brush over the Defiance beta, answer a listener’s question and laugh at EA being voted ‘Worst company in America’ for a second year in a row.

You can still get us on iTunes or on Android (e.g. using OneCast) by searching ‘Teabag Or Die’, alternatively listen from player below.

Teabag Or Die – Episode 5 – You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter

Some more comment and feedback would be nice so we can hone our rather blunt podcasting tools, Listener questions encouraged, we dare you.

The Hungry Games

The recent influx of indie games into the mainstream consciousness has come as a welcome break in the monotony of the repetitive nature of the titles streaming out of the big publishing houses like so much turd from a burst sewer main. A trend that is on the increase for small perfectly formed titles appearing on Xbox Live, PS Store and in particular the Steam service is without doubt a great thing for the industry, moving away from the strenuous nature of target driven creativity from larger studios, removing the expectations and putting control of the project back into the hands of those who care for it most. One such title is currently available on Steam early access and is the subject of this review.

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