The Gaming Appendix – Episode 1

This week marks a potentially historic day for the internet. Today I’m releasing the very first episode of “The Gaming Appendix” podcast who’s aim it is to talk about games past and what they turned out to be post patches, DLC and general reception. The first episode is actually covering more recent games Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 along with board games Settlers of Catan and Small World. Hit up the page for now to subscribe to the podcast. I plan to do it bi-monthly currently and will post when I work out the exact schedule.

The Gaming Appendix LibSyn Website

In case you want to give it a listen before subscribing here is a direct link to the mp3.

Listen Now!

The Uncanny Valley Is Moving–LA Noire Is Proof

On the eve of Rockstar’s latest game release LA Noire I ponder the concept of the uncanny valley and I wonder if it’s moving. For those not in the know here is a little excerpt from the wikipedia article.

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics which holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers.[1] The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness.

They busted out a pretty slick graph as well that shows where certain things fall on the scale of awkwardness. Have a look.

So what does all this have to do with LA Noire? LA Noire is sporting new technology that maps faces to 3D models in a level of detail never seen before. This maps real performances from actors in to the 3D world and delivers a much more convincing, human, performance in to the game. Check this video of the technology in action. Continue reading “The Uncanny Valley Is Moving–LA Noire Is Proof”

Expelling the Section 8 Prejudice(s)

Section 8 Prejudice Wallpaper

Section 8 is a game by Timegate Studios featuring first person shooting and a host of innovative and different game play mechanics. Sadly this fact was not clearly communicated and was thus lost on the general public. Most, I think, came looking for a PC version of a Halo experience. What they got was a game so different it required a learning curve to great for the typical Halo player to handle. PC gaming vetreans who have mastered the learning curve behind a game like Starsiege: Tribes had little problem getting in to the game but only after spending some time learning and doing some reading on forums to discover the pieces left out of the game tutorials.

The biggest detractor wasn’t any one game mechanic but rather a mentality. One that Halo and Call of Duty fans have had to deal with very little until recent itterations of those games. That being management. Section 8 required you to passively manage your armor configuration, weapons load out and even your spawn location on the map. Things that see limited use, and some times don’t appear at all on other games. Then once you are “on the ground” you have to manage not just shields but your movement power and timing while you move. As well you need to manage your weapon choices as you go along. Plasma isn’t useful against a physically heavy armored targets where physical rounds are more effective and vice versa for lightly armored heavily shielded targets. Once you pile on item and mission requests the game becomes a rough learning curve and a much more tactical experience.

Unfortunately it appeared Timegate’s dev team did not effectively communicate to their PR firm/department the nature of the game and it was advertised in the same manor as other pick up and shoot FPS games. So when the masses arrived they found they were shooting their shielded opponent with full gattling magazines and doing little damange which became frustrating so they left declaring Section 8 a terrible game. If only they knew you needed to drop the enemies shields first with plasma based weapons before inflicting the physical damage.

I played Section 8 and loved it while it lasted. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long with both the PC and PS3 console versions dwindling to almost nothing with in a year. I did in fact buy it twice, once on PC and once on PS3 and I wager folks like me are the reason Timegate has been able to make another game. They do say they’ve made many changes to the new game. Their marketing doesnt look much different so here’s to hoping their tutorial systems are better and that they haven’t stripped the game entirely of it’s tacticle essence that was so amazing the first go around.

Timegates website can be found here.
The Section 8 Prejudice website is here.

Go grab your copy on:
Steam (releases 4 May 2011) Pre-order nets you 10% off for a cost of $13.49.
Xbox (all ready released)
PS3 (No date set yet “coming soon” on Timegates Buy Now page)

Xbox Stifling Progress Not New But Noticeable

I ran across this video earlier today. While PC vs. Xbox vs. PS3 comparisons aren’t new what is new is what we’re finding in what were previously limit pushing games are now making the cash grab for the massive gaming market. So what happens when the limit breakers stop breaking the limit?

At approx. 4:35 you’ll see that the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the door texture appear to be identical. I grabbed a screen grab for a little better look.
crysis comparison
I have adjusted the brightness to make it easier to see but that is the only alteration I’ve made. So it’s pretty obvious the PC is getting a much lower quality than it’s capable of. So instead of the line being moved forward it’s just sitting at the 360’s level. I fear what this means for the top end. With more focus on mobile gaming and, for lack of a better way to put it, lesser systems is the top end going to die? Are we starting to look at the end of the line for top end maximum limit pushing games? I hope not.

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