[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

August 20th, 2010

So today’s about a month since my PlayStation Plus Experiment… How’s it going so far? Well I have received three months worth of premium avatars and a few games which I already have or aren’t that fun. Quite dissappointed with the service so far, still no news about cross-game voice chat and no premium dynamic themes to keep.

Continuing on however… According to next month’s schedule they don’t look all that great at all. For the Japanese PSN The next free title will be Warhawk… A game that is over two years old. Also there is no premium dynamic theme or avatar lined up to collect so I maybe skipping next month’s subscription.

Now what have I learned about this so far? First off the experiment works of course… I have received three months worth of avatars and games for only one month’s payment but none of the games were that interesting or worth my time or I already have it.

Subsciptions need to be unsubscribed once you have started it otherwise it will automatically renew and charge your credit card or PSN wallet at the end of the period. The service can to be unsubscribed from the Account Manager menu.

Once it reaches the end of the period you will automatically lose your Plus icon from your online status. Apparently there is a bug that allows free PSone games to continue to work even after the subscription period. However there were no PSone games for free on the Japanese store for me to test this.

As for the service so far, well there really is no benefit for power users so far… It seems you’d probably get or benefit out of this service if you were a casual PlayStation gamer and didn’t own that many games because you’d be getting essentially a new game that you have never played before. Since the service also offers automatic update, it basically allows you to set and forget your system and whenever you boot it up you’ll be ready for and game or any online networking since it would have kept your system up to date for you no matter how much you neglect gaming on it.

Well that’s the report on the experiment so far… More to come as time goes on… Hopefully they will improve the service alot more but I really done see it as a service that makes users feel they are missing out on something special…

August 14th, 2010

Looks like all the predictions and talk in the past is finally coming to fruit. Sony are really going forward with the PlayStation Phone. This can work out really well for Sony if they play it right … Rumour has it that the design is quite impressive and is a sliding touch screen with the PlayStation buttons featured like the PSP Go. Since there isn’t much to go by other than that, let’s see what points could make or break this phone for the hardcore gamer.

Games

No doubt this is the most important part of the phone and it is the selling point that will be pushing this device out to the consumers. It will be important that games created for the device are well supported and fully functional console quality games… No gimmicky games that people release on the other phones just to make a few bucks and bloat the online store or system. Keeping the system catering to more polished games will give it a more exclusive and upper class feel so that games purchased are well worth the money and there won’t be a top ten lists populated with dollar deal games and more quality games.

Hardware

Looking around at what other devices are out there that this would be competing with, this smart phone-portable console hybrid will need to ramp it up a little in order to catch the market that it needs to succeed. Firstly the hardware must support the current collection of PSP/PSone games, this isn’t an option it must be done… However this is not good enough, the device apart from featuring the ability to play PSP/PSone games also needs a refresh or update. The PSP Go failed because of this, people don’t want to pay more for a device that actually does less while despite having a nicer design and some software features. If they say they have learnt their lesson from the PSP Go, then I expect to see a brand new series of hardware that can possibly be a new type of PSP. Clue: Dual Analogue Sticks, L2 + R2 buttons, Camera, Capacitive Touch Screen, Accelerometer, Compass, GPS, Gyroscope, High Resolution Screen… pretty much anything and everything that it needs to stay on par with a high end smart phone. It would also need an awesome battery life… another thing PSP Go failed at despite the new chips and removal of the UMD drive, they decided they will reduce the size of the battery so that you end up with the same battery life as a standard PSP Slim. There is clearly more that can be said about the hardware, but I think if they wish to keep the phone competitive, they will have to have base hardware requirements for the series and refresh and update the hardware over time. However only changing the appearance, design, memory and storage so that games are designed for all systems throughout the system’s life cycle.

Software

Now this is where Sony usually struggles and dies trying. Rumours have it that the phone will be using Android 3.0, most likely skinned and modified to work how Sony wants it… similar to the Xperia X10. I’ve used an Xperia before, and well it ain’t no iPhone, even the new Samsung smart phones are nicer to use with Android 2.0. Sony needs to get the software for this right or it will crash and burn. No one wants to use a device that lags and struggles to respond no matter how beautiful it may look. A new and improved XMB would work, especially with a multi-touch screen should provide a good combination between using the directional pad and selecting icons on screen quickly. A quick example would be using the XMB menu then selecting the Photos menu on the PlayStation 3 then seeing it tile on screen which allows you to scroll with the directional pad or touch each tile for viewing. Being an Android phone, apart from supporting Android games it should also have it’s own propriety format so the games stay exclusive and will only work on the PSPhone. I’m sure this part is already thought of and clearly separates the system’s abilities from a normal Android phone… if not well then this will clearly be another lost cause.

PlayStation Network

Really, who is the market that will be buying this device? PlayStation owners and hardcore gamers. A fully functional and always connected PlayStation Network client on the phone would mean a lot to these people. If Sony wants the device to keep these people gaming, the community must be there and even though mobile devices isn’t the best idea for staying connected as connection dropping is or can be expected, it should not mean this shouldn’t be included. Most people are in the hardcore category with their portable consoles usually spend the majority of their time playing their games at the comfort of their own homes and usually have a stable internet connection there anyway. Just provide a warning that they may lose connection if the player chooses to play their games over the mobile network. The PSP had the PlayStation Network added later in it’s life cycle which meant it was slightly limited, however not being able to communicate with your friend’s list while on the PSP version of the PlayStation Network kind of defeated the purpose of signing in. So a fully functional PSN could turn it into a must have device for the daily PlayStation gamer.

Marketing

Lastly, probably another place where Sony tends to over look or do weirdly is the marketing of their devices. All I can say is, keep it simple and make sure you cover the market targeted and also the related markets such as multimedia audience and the casual gamer smart phone market. Show what it does… I think the recent advertising teams are doing better, but really that’s comparing it to what was already considered bad advertising. They will need to push this one hard if they want it to expand beyond just the gamer that doesn’t like having to carry a phone and their portable console.

Summary

I’m all for this idea, and it seems the general online feedback for it is quite positive as well… the downside is Sony has done this sort of thing in the past and failed to live up to the hype and advertising of some of their products which is why they don’t pick up as well as some of the other products and devices out on the market. Hopefully they will get this right and actually innovate again instead of only improving technology and hoping people will buy it on the specifications alone.

August 5th, 2010

Aww… Google Wave was a very useful collaboration tool to have. It was also very good for brain storming ideas or putting down quick game designs that still need refining. It is a very good idea just no one knew or not enough people knew how to use it efficiently or productively to make it a part of their daily lives.

Even though it was really nice to have and use it was an annoying standalone Google product. I mean one of the things that kind of made it annoying was that you had to login separately sometimes just to use it. I think Google could have probably done a better job with it if it had been integrated as part of Google Mail or Google Accounts. Google Mail seemed a more obvious choice since they have a large user base for that and quite a lot of people use Gmail as a work or professional email account. Makes sense if it was all for work and productivity.

I think another thing they should be putting more focus on is their Google Talk application, the Gmail integrated version seems to have more features than the standalone software… Not many people enjoy turning on and keeping a web browser window open just to receive messages and notifications in regards to their Google account. The software could probably be like a Google Apps thing that works with their Cloud Services. Also wouldn’t that reduce the load of stuff required to load up for the end user? I mean these web applications seem to perform badly on a poor connection so why not release native applications to support them? Is it because they want you to log on to see the advertising?

Source: Update on Google Wave

August 4th, 2010

Wow… I played Starcraft II this week, it was released last week and well I have to say… it is beyond very good. Starcraft being a game that I used to play and owned on PC well is a classic, and this sequel kind of blows it all away. I was never a fan of Terran but I did enjoy this first release of the three part story of the game so far.

This won’t be a review on the game because I am not hardcore at the game enough at the series to be qualified to speak about the games specifics. However I will discuss a little on the success of this sequel… starting with some history. Starcraft the original was a game I used to play with my friends early high school years… back then my friends and I each went with a different race, I picked Protoss and the other two picked Terran and Zerg. I was probably quite average at the game, while one of the two friends became really good at the game. Eventually it wasn’t any fun to play against that friend at all… and the other friend kind of didn’t play that much anyway so lacked practice.

That didn’t mean the game wasn’t any good… just that Starcraft is one of those games that apart from the Story/Campaign Mode you’re supposed to play with other people to enjoy it. One of the other things that people could enjoy was Custom Maps with Use Map Settings. I met a few people Online on Battle.net back then who were really good at making Custom games… It was great, I also learnt a lot about making them myself… but one thing about this version is that the custom maps are really hard to come by, also the map editor is way too complex now… I think by the time you learnt how to use it and make really decent stuff with it, you probably could have created your own game, programmed it and released it and get paid for your work. Even though this map editor lets you make a game that is completely different to what Starcraft is meant to be, it seems like it is going to be a long while until we see something really interesting.

Before I even played the Campaign Mode, I actually hopped on Battle.net under a friend’s account. I played a few games as Protoss then logged off… the Online interface was quite confusing actually, I clicked around trying to figure out how it works and all of a sudden I was sent into a game with a random person that I didn’t get to select. Dark Templars made waste of the opponent but that could have been some newbie that just happened to play Starcraft for the first time ever from this release. There was no interaction or chatting involved with me and the other player. I felt that was a little poor. I guess it is hard to chat in an Real-Time-Strategy game, but Blizzard seemed to have removed the Online Chat rooms in the new Battle.net system… What’s the deal with that? Part of going online to play games is to interact with people you are playing with so you know they are human not just [Korean] bots. One of the things about the old chat rooms was that I actually met the people who made the cool maps that I was playing through them and became friends because of the conversations I was able to have with the players when not concentrating on commanding my units. You do get a small lobby to chat in before a game starts but nothing once the game ends…

Well let’s head offline… Oh wait you can’t… When you play the game, you need a valid Starcraft II Battle.net account logged in so you can play Single Player Story/Campaign Mode. The nice thing about this is, your progress is saved on a cloud system. So you can technically go to your friend’s house and play the game from where you last finished at home. The bad thing, well you cannot play under your account if you aren’t online. However if the copy of the game is activated, you can play offline under Guest Mode… there is three guest slots that you can play Campaign Mode under… probably so you can make different choices each time you play for a different story. Which is pretty nice especially if you know someone who has the game, and you only want to try it out… Ask them to come around and install it and play online a little bit to show you then you’ll have a copy of Starcraft II that you can play the Story/Campaign Mode/Vs AI Mode whenever you want. Oh and yeah, no Local Area Network Mode for Offline Multiolayer.

Now the game… Again I’d just like to say wow… I don’t think they missed much when it comes down to the essence of Starcraft. Unlike other franchises or sequels to games that I have played Starcraft II did not fall short or drop anything that maintain the Starcraft feel. I ran the game on my notebook at 1920×1200 with most graphics settings turned down so I would have smooth game play without compromise… the game still looked great. The interface was good and the way you are put through between the missions and menus looked and felt right. Though I did find annoying that the top row of tabs during game can sometimes get in the way of clicking on units and opens up one of menus occasionally. Overall the Game Play, System and Story was top notch. It is satisfying to play through along with the special extras that are available to the Single Player Campaign makes or gives the mode some replay value which is a nice touch.

That’s about it really… Unless you want to read some spoilers or weird things that I tried while playing… Continue?
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