Friday, September 14, 2012

The end of Video Games as we know them

Perhaps it's due to the recent rumors putting the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft into 2014, and the fact that the Wii U has such a huge head start.  Perhaps it has to do with the ever changing dynamic of how we play games on other devices besides just our traditional consoles.  Or it could be in the not so silent death throughs that the traditional controller are going through as touch, motion, and voice controls become more and more saturated in the market.

The moral of the story is that videogames are changing, and perhaps it's for the best.  The traditional controller has held back the evolution of the video game for too long now and by supplementing in touch, motion, and voice commands it can finally be phased out.  In no version of virtual reality are you holding a controller, so why are we clinging to them like mice on a piece of drift wood out at sea?  Overzealous use of new technology which doesn't have the proven speed and accuracy of the traditional controller.  But when these new means of control are implemented in ways that take into account their limitations, they are truly inspiring.

How we interact is only part of this shift though.  Gaming has moved from dedicated consoles to our phones and other devices.  Can these really provide the same types of deep engrossing experiences that a console or even handheld console can provide?  The power is there.  The 3rd party support is there.  But it never quite reaches the level of play seen on a dedicated system.  The reason is all in planning, gaming on those devices is an after thought, like brick breaker on an old-cell phone.  Sure it works, you can spend time with it, and with a few select examples it works as well if not better than a console (PvZ).  But they never provide the deep experiences that can draw us into a whole new world, where you forget for a little while that you arn't in some magical far away land.

The same way a great book can transport you to far distant worlds you have never been, a great game can do the same.  Simply touching a screen is not enough to do this.  You don't feel like you have the kind of direct control that is offered in so many console games.  Anything where you play god (PvZ, Field Runners, etc) isn't going to be as affected by this disconnect because you expect your actions to be carried out on your behalf.  But when you are directly taking control of the character, these types of experiences feel off.  Additional control options are required to do so, and must be implemented from the start for that purpose.  This is why the new Sony Xperia should be one to watch.

Finally, we may be seeing the end of traditionally defined console generations.  Nintendo claimed that the direction of the Wii was not to compete with the 360 and PS3, "too many powerful dinosaurs" yadda yadda yadda.  When a system launches, early adaptors move first.  The games offered won't push too many boundaries of what the system can do, but will be markedly better ports than the other systems out.  As systems hit their stride with large libraries of quality games and developers grow more accustomed to the hardware and start producing real master-pieces, this is the time when the majority of consoles owners buy.  Finally in the autumn of a systems years, the hardware is pushed to the max and the system slowly disappears as it is overshadowed by the next generation.  What if system launches were staggered by a few years?  At every point I listed above, what if another system where at each of the other points?  Every system would retain dominance for a time, then full of proven games, and finally slowly overshadowed.  Perhaps this is a crazy idea.  Perhaps this idea could support two companies vying for our money, but three?

Certainly not when systems are abandoned before the launch of their successors.  For shame Nintendo.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Post-Wedding Rant

The wedding is finally done!  Now all we have to do is send off all these "Thank You's" to those who gave us stuff.

So it was a wonderful ceremony and the reception was fine.  My wife looked beautiful, and we are now acting just like we did before all these silly wedding planning things got in the way except now we have fancy rings!

There were a few issues which arose though.  Nothing major, but issues I would like to rant about.

First my contacts.  I don't wear contacts very often, but in planning for my wedding I wanted to wear contacts.  I started planning early on that, over 3 months in advance!  After ordering about 7 different contacts, we came to the set I got married in.  Most of the lenses took over a week to come in, and then I wore for only a few minutes before the next set was ordered.  This was my first time wearing RGP contacts or Hard contacts, so I had to build myself up to wearing them.  Only a few hours a day and they needed to come out.  Since I'm not in the habit of wearing them, and many days at work were too chaotic to have the time to put them in or take them out part way into my shift,  this process took even longer than it should have.  I thought I finally had the set good to go and was wearing them for about 10 hours a day when they started fogging over.  After trying different cleaners and cleaning them multiple times a day, we switched again to yet another brand.  This happened two weeks before the wedding, meaning the last week before the wedding I had to start all over building up my tolerance for wearing these things.  Haven't worn them since my wedding night.

Next the caterer.  Because they were up there getting food ready the day before, and we were up there getting the dinning hall ready to be a reception hall there may have been some toe stepping.  What took the cake though was when my mother (who showed up later then the rest of us) came, the caterer turned her away and told her she was at the wrong wedding!  Camp is not the place for good or even decent cell-phone coverage, so my mother then was frantically calling me driving around in the middle of no-where trying to find where she was supposed to go.  When I finally did see her, she was literally in tears over the ordeal.  Fast forward to the reception the next day.  The bridal party snuck out of the reception to go take more pictures down at the beach since we didn't get all our pictures done before the reception.  My mother-in-law comes down and tells us that the caterer is claiming that she feed 135 people, 45 more than we agreed upon.  Now I may not have personally known every person there, but since we only had 90 chairs, and there were open seats and I knew at least 3 of my friends bailed on us at the last minute, there was no way there was even 90 people there, let alone 135.  Apparently my mother-in-law tried to explain that to her, but she stuck to her guns and said they ran out of plates and served an additional 45 people on paper plates.  The first argument was "what about those people who came back up for seconds?" cause let's be honest, most of my family can eat more than your average army.  Oh no, no one came back up for seconds, they knew everyone who came through.  Finally one of my wife's uncles who works in a restaurant suggested they count the dirty plates.  Turns out there were only 45 dirty plates, they never opened the second package of plates!  I swear it's a good thing that someone else dealt with those ladies, cause I would have been screaming at them.

The ceremony did not start on time either.  Knowing my wife, I should have expected as such and just known to not worry about it.  But me being me, I am always about prompt time management and started having a mild freak out when 10 minutes after the ceremony was due to start, I heard my mother was still in her street clothes and was still playing with the hair of the bridal party!  She even went so far as to have tackled the photographer and did her hair too all while she was no where near ready herself! Meh, apparently everyone else just expected the wedding to start half an hour after we claimed it would.  I would have dealt better if every time I tried to sneak off to the dinning hall with my groomsmen to grab a prewedding beer, some one dragged me back to the chapel, reminding me yet again of how we weren't starting yet.

The music was the next less than perfect.  First for the music in the church during the ceremony.  I asked the fiancee of the Maid-of-Honor to work the stereo for me.  Just hit play, hit pause after the procession, then play one last time when the ceremony ended.  Well, the other bride's maid started to walk before he actually hit play.  Then when Graphene Girl started walking down the isle, he hit pause.  She and her father walked down the isle to silence!  My well laid plan of Ocarina of Time credit music was thwarted.  Finally after the ceremony ended, we had gotten nearly to the back of the church before the music started again!  Small little thing, I know, and whatever.  From the still photos, you would have no idea that there was an issue.

The second musical issue came during the reception.  My uncles used to be DJ's and had offered to bring up their speakers.  I had my grand plan of just hooking up my i-Pod, hitting play, and walking away.  I had spent weeks crafting playlists for dinner and then dancing after.  Well, my Uncle took it upon himself to skip those songs he had never heard of.  Sure there was plenty of music to skip a few things, but I had to specially request songs from my playlist actually be played!  Why did I bother crafting this list of music if it was going to be ignored?

The tent and chair guys were late setting up, lucky for us we had them setting up a day early.  They were also late coming to pick their stuff up too.

Since I let slip there would be no Bud Light or other crap beer served at my wedding, my family took it upon themselves to provide their own beer.  This lead to me returning a nearly full keg of beer to the brewery.  Sure everyone who drank it commented "Wow, this is really good beer."  But words don't float the keg.  At least we floated the keg I was drinking.  Alright and by floated I mean that when we got home the next day we filled two growlers and dumped out a gallon jug of ice tea to hold what was left.  On the plus side, for what I paid for the kegs after I got my deposite back, we easily drank more than it would have cost had we been at the brewery drinking it.

OK, it's off my chest and onto the internet.  Time to do the dishes.  Married life sure seems a lot like unmarried life did.