23 July 2014

Halo Tetralogy

I remember Halo: Combat Evolved.  It was fun, using a pistol until someone got a tank and then running for your life because the cheeky bastard has also gotten the Rocket Launcher, the perfect Rock to their 90mm Tungsten Shells.

Uhh, I mean Scissors.

It was a cool game though.  We had plenty of fun, whether we were walking around Blood Gulch with Permanent Invisibility and Sniper Rifles, or playing the Master Chief campaign, taking on everything with just the Pistol.  That is until we ran out of the Ammunition, then we howled in disappointment and put the little hand cannon down and moved on.

My friends and I have kept playing the Campaign as the game continued releasing sequels.  Halo 2, 3, 4, Halo Reach.  I think the only game we didn't Coop was Halo ODST, and that's a bit of a shame.

So hearing about the Halo: Anniversary Edition, I got a little excited.  I picked it up and thought "Yeah!  This'll be great!  Halo 1 updated!"  I was wrong, but I still had fun for what it was, which was simply a much prettier game from back in the day.

Sadly though, I suspect it'll be the same thing for the Halo Master Chief Collection coming out for the Xbone later this year.  Which is a shame.  I would love to see the game updated with all the little tweaks that have been implemented in the series, from AI to the effect of weapons, to action items.

But that's something I doubt will be implemented, since each of the games are very different in their own ways.  Any new players to the series would be able to fully experience the stories and evolution of the game from day dot to it's current iteration, but I have my doubts about whether they really want that.

In which case, I'm tired of the old staying old and just being prettier.  So I may end up saving myself a few bucks in that.

Cross Generation Gaming

And the lesson here is not to force the issue.
Especially Poo jokes.
We are in an age of technology where everything is thought ahead.  Gaming consoles have done exactly that with the current and last generations of consoles, namely with online communication.

I can happily sign into my Xbox 360 and start talking with my Xbox One friends, simply because it was thought ahead when the 360 was made.  The same goes with Playstation 3 and 4.

Because of that, I look forward to games that will play across Generations.

I've always liked the idea of Cross Platform gameplay, because I look at most consoles and see them as the same turd rolled in different glitter.  But because of that glitter they can't communicate, putting an immodium on the plan of cross platform gaming regardless of whether it's the same piece of corn in the captains log.

Cross Generation seems much more capable feature.  One turd might be smoother, but given what's essentially the same cob of corn, the glitter would make little to no difference.

But to stop myself from getting a haemorrhoid, because I'm straining the analogy, I want to get into what brought this up.

Destiny, an MMO-esque shooter coming out for current and last gen consoles.  It was said that they wanted to implement Cross Generation gameplay, but just recently announced that it wasn't going to happen.

The way it began was poor.  One of the reps said that the reason was, and I'm paraphrasing, "current generation consoles have the advantage when sniping, because they can see the target clearer than someone with a last generation console, due to resolution limits."

Essentially, a previous generation console can see two pixels, and the next gen can see four.  And that is entirely unfair.

I flew into a rage.  It was the most pathetic reason I had ever heard.  Two fucking pixels?  You PC Cultured Knob Jockeys.  You make a game and balance the entire system to give a player the same experience across four consoles, and you nullify half the fucking point by cancelling it over TWO FUCKING PIXELS?!

It was something from a culture of PC gamers who can't go a week without having to buy a new graphics card in case they fell behind on their Battlefield Ranks.

Then came another article.  An article that didn't sound so petty, though they still defended the Pixels.  But more significantly, there is actually a technological problem.  Lag times between consoles, and comparable hardware processing.

Yes, the excuses are still a little thin, but it's better than Two Fucking Pixels.  Either way, I do have to be picky with what consoles I get it for.  I'll be getting it for PS4, there's no doubt about that as my Australian friends will have it in that time.  Would it be worth it to buy it on Xbox 360?  If I convince my 'Murican friends to get it, then sure thing.  Even more so if I convince my Australia friends to get it too.

Then there are other games I would like to play Cross-Generation.  Like Skylanders: Trap Team.  If I get mum to bring over some select figures from the enormous collection I left there for the Niece and Nephew to play with when they visit Grandma, then I could be well prepared with Trap Team.  And playing with my Pseudo-Nephew Alex would be fantastic.  I could set aside a morning to let him tell me all of his new favourite skills and abilities while playing missions.

What about Mass Effect?  They're bringing a new series into the current Generation (and possibly remaking the first trilogy too) and there's always the possibility it'll have some sort of multiplayer.  Given that they might make versions for the last gen, there's a chance for Cross Gen again.

Turning the tables, Xbox 360 might get a chip into the next Gears of War series.  Both Scotts I know have Xbones, and if they both get it I'll get excluded if they want to be technologically superior to me.

There's game after game that I want to have a piece of, and two generations of consoles that I have to think about.  I don't want to have four consoles to play.  I hardly want two, but I can live with that.

Maybe next generation, possibly 10 years from now, everything will be more considerate.  Yes the consoles will be 10 years old, which is like comparing the culture of 1788 to now, but it's still something they should consider when the time comes.

16 July 2014

4 Player Podcast

Fuck you and your Fish
A random thought occured to me recently.  I love my gaming friends.  One of the things we do is we play games together, like 4-5 player coop.  And occasionally, we have great discussions about them too.

So why not record them?  That's how most podcasts start, isn't it?  A bunch of mates decide to start broadcasting their thoughts about x and y?  Twitch is also a thing, but that just seems pretentious broadcasting my erratic point of view In a first person game, missing all the good and interesting happenings as is an old habit of mine while I'm concentrating on whatever is apparently more interesting.

But just listening to us as we play?  Summarizing with a discussion of the game itself?  I think it'd be great!  It'd start with my four friends, maybe swap between a couple of different groups, and then the occasional guest player.

It'd be pretty easy too, I'm sure there's an easy way to get a sound splitter for my xbox controller that connects to my headphones and a recording device.  Even if it's the laptop which is making a WAV file.  That itself is a terrible idea, simply because WAV files are fuggin enormous.

In turn, I would have to find a way to do the same for the Playstation, though it does have that share option where you simply upload your own videos, which isn't what I want.  I would rather make it something like a Radio show, hearing guys reactions and discussions without the complicated editing of finding related videos.

Because I'm lazy, you know?

But it'd be entertaining, hearing the highs and lows of a fun level of a new game for a player, hearing the exclamations through the headphones as everyone calls out at the same time.  I reckon it'd be fun.  Now what games would we feature...

09 July 2014

Radio killed Independence Day

Our Hero was confused what
his Rock Out song should be
It was my first proper Independence Day, and I was smack bang in the middle of Seppoland to enjoy it.  Jenny had built me up for it, only warning that I would have to look after Taz while every 'Murican across the country was shooting fireworks during the day and night, constantly and almost dangerously closely.

I was disappointed in that respect.  Hardly a peep until Thursday.

But it was going to be fine, there was at least going to be a fireworks show over at South Haven on Thursday.  Jenny offered to go earlier in the week, taking Taz with us because he freaks out and forces himself back into the closet to hide from the cacophony.

Naturally I accepted.  I wanted to see a fireworks show.  It'd been a long time since I'd seen one, and with a country that ejaculates at the thought of something blowing up I would hope they'd do a good job of it.

And they did.  But one thing confused me.  We had the radio going because they were doing a live broadcast and we began the drive home pretty quickly after the finale.

Now, just quickly, after years of watching American movies, I had an understanding that Independence Day was their separation from the Tyranny of the English.

So why the fuck were they playing The Beatles during and after the Finale?  If that wasn't bad enough, for the next couple of days we also heard The Who and Adelle singing that Skyfall song.

We did hear the Monty Python Theme, but it turns out that is an American Tune.

Now credit where credit is due, they're good songs.  But come on.  I was expecting Kid Rock and Bruce Springsteen to be blaring from every home along the way home as peoples hands were combusting as they clutched those colourful explosives.

But no.  I had the Beatles under the occasional light of M-80's being flung into the sky.  I got more 'Murica from GTA who made available a Monster Truck that looks like George Washington had ejactulated all over it.

Maybe next year.

02 July 2014

Gaming Flops

They said I could be anything...
I was so tempted, so VERY tempted, when I was in JB-HIFI staring as the cheapie bin holding a $4 copy of Haze, one of Playstations Exclusive Gaming Flops.

I have a very silly reason for wanting to play it, and it's simply that I want to know how bad the game really was, not through reviews or word and mouth, but through actually playing it, and then speculate on how I would make a comeback sequel.

Would I put it forward to developers? No, I wouldn't know where to begin to put it in, let alone find a development team who would be willing enough to venture forth.  Then there's IP rights, and whatever, yadda yadda yadda (although that would be rather cheap considering how big a flop it was).

The story seemed interesting.  A soldier part of a Paramilitary Organisation is sent off to take on a Guerrilla Headquarters, surged on by a combat drug called 'Nectar', until he figures out what's going on and changes sides and tactics.

Straightforward.  It's like the first idea that popped into someone's head, with the noble ideal of overcoming evil organisations and it's inhumane practices.  But surely, there has to be more?

Apparently not really.  On top of the limited motives, there was apparently terrible environment design and ham fisted acting, judging from the demo I played moons ago.

That's pretty disappointing.  Especially since the environment is drawn like shit, judging from the Demo I played many moons ago.

So with a new console, the Playstation 4, it isn't entirely unfair to think of how one would resurrect an old exclusive flop.   So why not go back in time?  Go to the start of when this Haze drug was first made?  Expand on the conflict, the espionage, the conniving motives of military based corporations and politicians.  Because that's what it always comes down to, right?

Keep to the Guerilla theme.  Stealth-Action games are pretty popular.  Look at Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  It's a good game in its own right, and sounds quite similar to what I'm describing.  Lets drop the levelup RPG elements and just have the player find accessories to add to their character, whether it's a weapon they can accessorize, or a Nectar genetic modification they can administer to themselves for an added edge.

Then there's the story.  The main theme of Haze was the horrors of war, how leaders can be arrogant and ignorant only to further their own goals and there is no good guy.  Fair enough.  There is no good guy, so build on that.  Add more motivation to why you're not the bad guy in this sea of bad guys.  Mind, that'll be difficult.

But hey. Why not give it a crack?

25 June 2014

It's ma birfday, happy birfday

Swap that Jack with the 5 of Hearts, and you got 28!
You'd understand if you played Cribbage.
It was this time last year that I'd began working at Cloudland as a Glassy.  I was feeble and green, making mistakes with whether a table was done with a bottle, or if a customer had abandoned their drink.  It was a new learning experience and I needed it after such a long time in my last job.

Only a couple of months beforehand Jenny and I had put in for my deportat- sorry, Immigration to the USA so that after four long and hard years, we could finally be together.  We were consulted by wonderful friends of ours who had been through similar ordeals, and also a wonderful Lawyer who alleviated the majority of our concerns and prepared us for the trials that lay ahead.  Mostly.

But we persevered...  Up until around about Jennys Birthday.  We were going stark, raving mad.  So I concocted a plan!  I would visit for Xmas!  And we would be able to calm ourselves down by being together while we wait for the VISA to process.

So since the internet at home had capped, slowing it down to a snails pace, I went up to my sisters place and organised a new ticket.  $2k it cost mum's visa card for a return trip, and that was about what I was expecting for a return trip around Xmas time.

But about a month later, that plan came to a grinding halt.  We were basically told that while I was going through the VISA process, if I tried to enter the country I would be given a complete service and sent back to Aus.  THEN, the process would get cancelled and we would have wasted our money and time.

Didn't I feel like a right fuck knuckle.

So I got credit back on my plane tickets and kept the receipt for when I do actually go over there.  At least I wouldn't have to buy another ticket, right?

Time was making things... difficult.  We just wanted to be together and there was much despair from both of us and we were just absolutely sick to death of waiting.  We felt like the most patient people in the world finally reaching breaking point.

Come November, we got word.  Homeland Security said "Guess what, your only crime in America is being Australian."  And I assume that's fine because they haven't stamped a "Return To Sender" mark on my forehead and put me in the post since I got here.

My instructions were straightforward.  Get your stuff together.  Get a Medical Check done.  Get a Police Certificate.  Send it down to Sydney.  Then come down for your interview.  Fair cop.

Police Certificate was easy.  Go in, give details, and bam, it'll be in the mail.

On the same day, I went for my Medical.  Now, there's a shortlist of doctors that you can attend that qualify for their standards, and luckily it was just near the train station.  It began with a urine sample.  Sadly, they didn't have their own toilets.  So I had to go upstairs to the hotel and use their publicly available bathrooms.  That was awkward, just because... well why go somewhere and use their facilities without buying something?

* - May not have ACTUALLY
been Dick Van Dyke.
** - True Story
So I went back down and handed it in with a form I had to fill out, and waited.  That was when Dick Van Dyke* came out and invited me in to the doctors office.

He was a lovely fella, telling me interesting things about his family and how he has more grandkids coming, between asking me about my medical history.

Then he had to do the physical stuff.  He asked me to strip down to my undies and then stand against the wall for my height.  Then he told me to take a seat, and he tested my respiration and prodded me here and there to test my reactions.

Then he laid me down and asked me to pull down my underwear.  He then proceeded to fondle my testicles.  I'm sure that's a test of testicular cancer, or any deformities that I may not have known about, but I still lay there, staring at the ceiling, thinking "Dick Van Dyke is fondling my plums.  Don't get an erection.  Don't get an erection.  Don't get an erection.**"  We concluded and I walked home, starstruck, and continuing the mantra until I got home and spoke to my soon-to-be wife and said I loved her and kept her spirits high until I told her what had happened.

Which only raised her spirits so high that she fell off the bed laughing.

Time went and we waited longer and longer, our patience as thin as possible as it could have gone without doing a loud snap that would wake up every sleeping person in and against the Pacific Ocean.  We had gotten a taste of victory and needed more like a crack addict in a... crack house.

*ahem*  I'll just let that run away on me.

But we had waited a little too long waiting for my Police Certificate, so I sent in a request for an extension, a one time effect, and surprisingly we found that they approved it!  Relieved as we were, we had to find out where the Police Certificate was.

So I made call after call, asking straight forward questions to no avail.  It wasn't until I looked through the White Pages that I called a number to the Police HQ and found that the Certificate had already been sent down to the Embassy.

I chucked quite the spack attack as I hulked out after I hung up the phone.  I didn't know it was going straight there!  And it had apparently been there for weeks!  So all I had to do was send down the rest of my stuff and organise the fuggin interview.

All quickly organised, I got my date: 18th February.  Flights were organised as was accommodation with my fantastic cousin, Trent, and his wonderful wife, Michelle (Who cooks a cracker of a dinner), and directions were also gathered to actually get me to the MLC Centre.

I faffed about on the train, carrying my little bag, enjoying the scenery and thinking about all the interesting stuff that Jenny would splooge over, namely the buildings that are all a bit different to what she's used to.  Jennys a big fan of architecture, so much that she even dreams about it.

So I take note of some interesting sights that Jenny would enjoy on the train from Flemington Station, and meander my way down to the MLC Centre for my interview, waiting in a rather arbitrary waiting room with a television tuned to an American channel, noting the stars and stripes adorning the nearest wall, and wondering what the security will do with my stuff down on level 10 now that I was on level 47.

But sooner than later, the lovely lady who was to interview me called me over and asked a few questions about our history.  "Where did you two meet", "How long have you been together", "How often have you two visited each other", "Can you pull that pen out of your nose".

Nerves, you know?

But I was left with one bit of advice.  By midnight that night, I had to sign up to an Embassy Website so that I was able to get my stuff back.  Which included my Passport.  Which I had to leave there with them.

I wasn't going to leave the country any time soon.

But in the mean time I had the city of Sydney to faff about in.  I wandered about, taking a couple of photos for Jenny before my phone died, such as the park right near the train station, and wandering down to near the river to stop at a pub for a couple of lonely pints of cider until my flight home was due.

Funny enough, the wedding ring is on the left.
... I went big early.
The last leg laid ahead of us.  All we had to do wait for the final word to say "You have our good graces, please enjoy the trip."

A little while later, we had word.  And I began figuring out what I was going to take, and how I was going to take it.  I packed up all the essentials, Clothes, my Xbox, a few books, my PSP, my IKRPG core rulebook, then minimize what Warmachine models I wanted to leave with and fill the rest of that bag with the goodies I had to take for Jenny.  There were so many Tim Tams, I tell ya.

Then there was work. I attended every shift available and had a five day stretch right up until my flight on March 10, a Monday morning.  It was a good plan. I would naturally be super exhausted as soon as I step onto that 14 hour flight to LAX, on an aisle seat too so I would just nod off as soon as I stake my seat.

And that's pretty much what happened.  And I suffered for that, because for a better part of the month after I arrived, I was quite dehydrated.  I would be drinking water half a dozen bottles at a time, mostly because the tap water looks far too suspicious when it is full of sedentary and it slowly, and I mean slowly, floats up to the top.

But I was there... Or here, as the case may be.  My partner of four fucking years was finally standing in front of me.  And there would be no time limit to being together.

Well, so long as we got married, of course.

We were well prepared, some clothes were needed for me, but otherwise everything was prepared. The only problem?  It was still very evidently Winter.

St Paddys day.  On the beach at South Haven.  Where the wind was so lazy that it didn't bother going around you, it just went straight through you and chilled you to the bone.

But that didn't stop us.  We declared our love and made a stand by throwing a rock each into the sea. Mine got stuck in the ice.  But Crikey we were happy to finally get into Jenny's parents car with the heat blasting.  I've never been so happy to get into heat.

The next plan was to get me a job, but that was after adding a few amenities, such as adding me to Jenny's bank account, to which we discovered that I need a social security number.  We were under the assumption that I would walk right off the plane into a job.  We were wrong.

Since then, it's been more waiting for the Government to send me the approval so I can finally get some income.

In the mean time, I have a small dog that I have to take care of, and a wife to feed, and an apartment to maintain.  Things could be much worse.  I could still be in Australia and not finally living with my partner of 4 and a half years.

18 June 2014

Grand Theft Avatar Online

Dakka dakka dakka!
I've been playing a Lot of Grand Theft Auto V lately, because it is an impressive cinematic game.  Three characters fighting together to get their ways in life without having to get screwed over by some other asshole.  Its fantastic, it's emotional, and it is more entertaining than a bag full of cats.

But it doesn't stop there.  GTAV also has an online mode which is, for want of a better description, an MMO set in Los Santos (The setting of GTAV).

In this Online mode you can do any number of things, from Holding up a convenience store, to joining a Death Match against a bunch of strangers, to racing your friends around the city, to organising heists for either the sake of hilarity or to actually attain a profit (Though those are yet to be properly implemented).

My only worry, and it's admittedly a silly worry, is that players would get bored of the city of Los Santos.  There's thousands of square miles of environment you can explore, I'm still discovering/rediscovering regions, but eventually one does run out of things to do.

So what can you do?  Why not add another city?  The setting has several environments as it is all set within San Andreas, all of which have their inconsistencies between 2D, 3D and HD universes, but that's Rockstar's problem.  That's the potential of a GTAV/GTAOnline Expansion, either reinventing old cities, or inventing new ones.  The potential is all up to the developers.

The System is what's fun though.  A very well designed Third Person game with Role Play Elements, along with a very good Vehicular system (covering anything from a push bike to a personal jet).

It's a tried and true method for a good number of years, and it makes for a really fun setup for GTA Online.

But as my train of thought moved on, it careened over to the Xbox All-stars MMO I rambled on about a few months back.

This would be a perfect setup for exactly that.  To have different regions that mimic exclusive Xbox games (or games they can get the rights to) which your player, represented by your Xbox Avatar, can roam about causing havoc or performing feats they get from whatever they have equipped, around areas that would appear in a demo levels of respective games.

I would love to jump out of a Borderlands Bandit Technical, wearing my Crysis Nanosuit, holding a Gears of War Lancer and killing a Halo Elite in a Doom Facility.  Just as an example.

Likely, Licensing and such won't allow Xbox to get that, but it's still an idea they can run with just to get some cool milage out of those charming little Mini-Me's.

Yes, it was that big.
The more I think about it, the more I wish it were true that my little Avatar would have a professionally made world available to him to roam, and shoot, and interact.  I say professionally because there are a number of Indie games that use Avatars, and they all seem very... Low budget.

I continue to play GTA Online, driving about in whatever spiffy car I've sexed up, finishing missions, or jacking Armoured Trucks, or being chased down by the Los Santos Rozzers, and I keep wondering other things that would make an Avatar GTA interesting.

Like all the weapons would be based on NERF guns, just so that kiddies would be able to join in on the fun without being subjected to the gore of a spurting headshot.  And with that you can customise them, from an extended clip or an underslung grenade launcher, to something like an elemental effect added to your ammunition.  Or get random drops and just improve on them from there.  It'll depend on how you go about it, and whether the character you develop matches your play style.

Skill trees could be massive, just starting off with a handful of straightforward options, and expanding out more and more making characters that much more unique for each persons playstyle.

Enemies could be based off of Xbox exclusives, throwing things like Halo Elites and Gears of War Locust into the mix.  Or have mock characters of other company personifications, like the Wiis "Mii"s and have them attack in droves against environments, turning them into their own versions of said exclusives and turning them against the avatars.  Better yet, have a Zomb-ii mission such as being placed in the Xbox HQ and have to make defences in there to stop the hordes of zomb-ii's.

Then take the piss out of themselves and fly up to a mothership designed on the original xbox, maybe fly around in fighters that are based on the original controllers.  Or do a mothership dungeon crawl and fight a raid boss.

The ideas are pretty endless.