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Steam Machines - April 2018

I already wrote this on USgamer yesterday, so...

They done it wrong.

Needed 2 or 3 fixed hardware tiers with easy to understand brand identifiers, like iPhone numbers, so I'd suggest:

- Steam Engine mk I - to marginally improve on the PS4 spec (better CPU for 1080p/60 games) - at low cost. Should cost peanuts for this tier by now, especially with pre-owned machines, but there are none.
- Steam Engine mk II - to support entry level PC VR, so i5 / 970 spec or better, but FIXED (unless the user upgrades RAM etc),
- Steam Engine mk III - super powered Steam Engine for those with loads of cash - GTX1080(Ti), 16(32)GB RAM+ i7 CPU

Steam Engine mk. IV would be the next one down the line, and Mk. I, II & III would be revised with lower prices and more modern, cooler running / more power efficient / smaller form factor hardware of the same spec, as it becomes available.

The next part is the games - they NEEDED to bundle exclusive games with SteamOS / Steam machines.

If Left 4 Dead 3, Portal 3, Team Fortress 3 & Half-Life 3 all had a short SteamOS / Steam VR exclusivity period, then it would lead to a spike in Steam device sales, if it coincided with the release of the hardware.

As things were it was a complete mess as a hardware platform launch. Nothing was really done from the perspective of the gamer - there was no point in buying any of those random boxes.

We needed A STEAM ENGINE, not a bunch of random overpriced Linux PCs, that are hard to upgrade. It needed a unique and standard design. Yes - let other manufacturers make their own, and yes - make it easy to dual boot and install Windows 7/10 for those who want that, but make a standard system to sit next to the Xbox One X & PS4 Pro.

Next is EA - Valve needed to do a deal to bring EA games to SteamOS specifically, if not the Steam Windows app. To have a special Origin store section in SteamOS if necessary, but it would be silly to ignore games like Battlefield 1, FIFA and Battlefront, and still expect a hit product. Madden & NHL on SteamOS would have been essential for penetration in the US and Canada as well. It COULD have happened, but I don't reckon they even care at this stage. Ditto with Ubisoft unless they already have Linux versions available. Maybe do a deal with Sega to put a Sega branded store in there, with loads of well loved Sega exclusives such as their ARCADE GAMES over the past 30 years.

Ah well - good luck to them in their other endeavours, as they've done everything else well, generally.

VR / PC / Steam spiel - May 2015

nickthegun wrote:
Most people don't even own a PC anymore.


Everyone who ever wanted a PC pretty much has one.

Here's an interesting one. The Core 2 Duo is NINE years old, and they're all 64-bit.

An entry level Core 2 Duo upgraded to 4GB RAM, which costs about 20 these days, will run Windows 7 and most normal peoples' office and web software with no problems. Even throwing in an Nvidia 8800 would be 20.

This is why people aren't racing out and buying PCs. If anything, a decent VR platform with a set of applications unavailable anywhere else will become the REASON to buy new PCs - until another device can do the job well enough.

It's even great that Windows 10 is coming this year, as the PC really needs to catch up with phones and tablets in terms of convenience. Windows 7 is powerful and flexible, but some of the convenience and usability traits of our current ARM-based mobile devices are just leaving them in the corner.

PCs aren't selling as well, because people already have one that does enough. Nobody is writing Essays or carrying out daily Office tasks on an iPad.

These applications are what drive PC sales. Web access, E-mail, Instant Messaging, Social Media, Desktop Publishing, MIDI, Digital Video Editing, Digital Music, Video Games, Digital Photography, Business applications.

For some of those applications, specialist devices move in to make the user experience more appealing to non-techies, over using a clunky PC interface. This is where phones, tablets and games consoles have found a huge audience.

A cheap/old PC that most people already own, can do ALL of the tasks above, to the level that most people outside of the specialists need them, and for the other tasks, either the masses don't do them (CAD/CAM/ complex video editing), or there's another device that does the job cheaper and easier.

VR should be a shot in the arm for PC sales, right in the spot between the killer applications coming along for it, and before the next gen of games consoles can really do it justice. In the meantime, there will be Morpheus.

By 2020, this stuff should be as well established as Blu-ray. Blu-ray is not as popular as DVD, as it doesn't need to be, as DVD exists. Same with VR versus traditional flat displays, or Stereoscopic 3D. Obviously these aren't directly comparable, as VR is a whole new paradigm, like comparing playing Chess to playing EVE Online.

It's going to depend on software applications. $500 wont be an issue, as soon as you take a single look at how much an iPad costs. It needs a wonderful interface, marketing and support to allow developers to really take advantage of its benefits and possibilities.

I really think that we need a new software application - like a Microsoft Office for 3D VR design, to allow Average Joe to build himself a virtual world, either sat at a PC, or more interestingly, while wearing the VR headset.

I don't expect a big bang like what happened with the PS2/PS4 or iPhone/iPad - Sony have had some great people doing and saying all of the right things with their platform, and they've learned from their mistakes in a major way. Other companies - even as capable as Valve, seem incapable of managing a platform launch in anywhere near as successful a manner. Everything's still up in the air with them, despite a Steam Box / Vive combo with a store full of business and leisure VR apps looking like a massive opportunity.

I'll stop typing now, and wait 2 years to see what people can come up with. It really needs to be special, and unmissable. It's certainly possible as long as the hardware can deliver a pleasant and not-too-anti-social experience.

We now have to see if VR can fit into the real, mainstream world. This will be interesting. I believe that external cameras, like front facing cameras on phones and tablets, will be essential in terms of achieving this.

Old Skool - Aug 2017

I have Rock Band 3 on my 360, and I never bothered moving into the next gen. Too busy, and the peripheral nonsense - with wheels especially, made the decision for me.

Next is my gaming news source. I love Eurogamer, but it's a patchwork quilt, and the advert nonsense last month or whenever, made me decide to subscribe to GamesTM again after 10 years. It's not as though there was much alternative choice here at EG.

So - I'm old skool. I'll see how this place is for breaking news stories, but I'm happy to stay old skool, and continue with Rock Band 3 and GamesTM.



Console VR - Feb 2017

Hopefully every high-end game will now have at least a very playable and polished VR mission - that plays out like a SEGA Arcade game - like a vertical slice of non-stop fun and variety.

They don't need hours-long grinding slogs in the headset - those will appear organically when the time and the experience suits them. For now - it would be great to see the top end games have optional VR sections, areas and missions.

Mass Effect
Transformers / Platinum

Sports & driving games


The main game obviously won't necessarily work in VR, BUT online spectator modes in FIFA and other games like Battlefield, for example?

Support roles in these games, which perhaps involve taking a gun without driving a vehicle (or vice versa), or some other reconnaissance or strategy role?

There are probably tonnes of experiences that would work, and if a few studios prove to be adept at these, they could become the go to development houses - like Bluepoint and others for HD / PS4 conversions.

Upgraded Xbox One? - March 2016

There ABSOLUTELY should be an Xbox One+ out around the same time as the NX.

Microsoft can mandate that all games must run on all consoles. Obviously they would be developed with the installed base in mind, as there are 20 million consoles out there, so that's a given.

The X1+ would have faster memory, CPU, HDMI 2.0, faster BDXL drive and 4K Blu-ray support, and obviously more ESRAM in a significantly higher spec GPU.

The regular console would still be sold with a 500GB drive, but this new machine would replace the Elite, and come with a huge SSHD. Hopefully games could be released on BDs that have 2 layers that the Xbox One can read, and an additional one or two that the BDXL drive in the X1+ could access, reducing the stupidly large day one patches that Master Chief collection had, for example.

360 games would suddenly run significantly better as well. It's win-win, as it'd be a massive shot in the arm for X1, leapfrogging the competition and giving a huge boost to the customer base as more people come on board.

Just seeing the existing games get 1080p/60 patches for the X1+ console, would be a wonderful sight.

I really don't know what they're waiting for. They shouldn't talk about it, they should just insta-release it at E3, and they'd kick everyone's arses with the hardcore base as people begin to upgrade, and kill the NX's 3rd party chances at the same time.

This really should be an expensive, high-end version of the system. The AMD equivalent of an nVidia 970 or better, on the GPU side.

2015 post E3 Shenmue Kickstarter

I want to see:

Yu Suzuki X Sony

...working on the next big thing.

Shadow of The Colossus sized project. Not TLG development cycle, however.

How about a Yuzo Koshiro (guaranteed for the music) / Streets of Rage reboot Kickstarter?

Surely they could take God of War III / Ascension, and make a Golden Axe modern reboot? 3 player co-op?

[i][b] I dare Sony or Microsoft to Kickstart those games. [/b][/i]

2015 Rock Band 4 Peripheral Backwards Compatibility

[quote]Legacy Game Controller Adapter to use Xbox 360 wireless guitars and drums.[/quote]

This is excellent.

It could make the XO Back compat even more interesting, if enough people get it, and MS decide to support it in some of their emulation for other games.

Also... STEERING WHEELS! Forza 6!


COME ON MS! There's an XO sale in it for you!

2015 Wii U discussion

...Friend codes, shit digital triggers, shit touch screens and the circle pad pro.

It's sad to say, but regardless of how rich Nintendo are, and how long they can survive, these foibles are looking very much like modern equivalents of the Mega CD, 32X and Sega Saturn.

The 32X, in 1994-5 had Virtua Racing Deluxe, Virtua Fighter and After Burner Complete. It also had MKII, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, Knuckles Chaotix, Primal Rage, Doom, Star Wars Arcade, Wrestlemania Arcade, Space Harrier, plus every 32X owner could obviously play EVERY Megadrive game ever released.

Non-too shabby, really, despite the dross that was also released. Still - it was their LOWEST point, hardware-wise - an utter failure.

The Dreamcast was utterly beautiful in 2000. I wouldn't touch it. Wouldn't spend any money or have any faith. Didn't trust them.

Looks a lot like what's happened with the Wii U.

A lot of people had faith in Nintendo with the Wii, and spent a LOT of money during the launch period. Think back to how much a Wii + multiple controllers / nunchucks / pro pads / gamecube pads / wii motion plus, Wii Fit, plus full priced games, cost. VERY expensive back in 2006-2008.

Nintendo just took that money, turned their backs on their most loyal customers, and sat on it.

Many of those customers aren't 'fanatics', they just want quality entertainment as opposed to endless droughts. They walked away to the competition, who are selling content to them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

They made themselves an afterthought. It's their own fault.

Early 2015 - GTA VI / Rockstar Games discussion

TBH, I'm not especially engaged in playing games from the past 12 months, and I'm more looking forward to seeing where things are in 12-24 months, and looking back on things as they develop.

I also want to see some nice evolution in games design. Looking at games like Doom and Quake, then Half-life, Unreal Tourney, Halo, Call of Duty and Battlefield - there's a clear evolution - and it took many years, especially to get things working well on the consoles.

(Turbo Esprit,) GTA, (Driver, Midtown Madness, Crazy Taxi,) GTA III, GTA IV - more evolution. I always despised the on foot controls in Vice City, but the rest of the game carried it. It's better now, but there's still room for more to happen while on foot, other than fighting and shooting, I reckon.

I'd like to see something nice and new, and it'll take a few years for the industry to adapt to where we are right now - which is basically the hardcore 1080p PS4/X1/PC era, with casual stuff on iPad/iPhone/Android & PC. Then there's the brand new potential of VR, that'll probably only make a significant mainstream impact in 2-5 years time. It'll be great to see the innovators at work, however, as all of the best PC games will benefit from VR capable versions or mods as the retail hardware is eventually developed and announced.

The Xbox One is now the baseline spec for any new games being designed, while top PC games can demand 4GB+ of RAM in the coming years. This makes a difference that games released up to now simply could not take advantage of in terms of their design.

It'll take one or two games - like Shadow of Mordor and others to surprise us with new features that take advantage of the new toybox of features available, in different ways. Shadow of the Colossus was another of these games. These innovations likely wont take place in the biggest sequels, as they wont want to break their cash cows.

It's going to take a few years before I find what I'm after, but I'm too busy at the moment to game much anyway.

Can't wait...

Games of 2014 - Dec 2014

I'm pretty sure that by the 2nd DLC of the 2nd Destiny installment, like with TitanFall, we'll see the game that they really designed.

This one seems like a cash grab. An Apple 1st gen product with some obvious features being held back to announce as revelations in versions 2 and 3.

I'd like to think that the game will be aimed squarely at the new systems by 2016, and will have more going on without needing to cater for a 512MB cap.

Marmite, and they're trying to milk it over several games with DLC sales.

Microsoft Xbox One Strategy - June 2014

In order for them to 'come across as more confident', they need to make good, gamer-focussed decisions in the first place.

They were very adamant about their choices one year ago.

Check the interviews on Game Trailers where Don Mattrick and Phil Harrison are quite confident that Kinect is an integral part of the console experience, and that an Internet connection is vital for Xbox One. That if you don't have a constant Internet connection, then you should stick with Xbox 360.

Idiots making idiotic decisions in order to push a non gamer-focussed agenda.

Really there should be a seriously high-bandwidth expansion port with power connection on the back of the Xbox One, and a tiny, drive-less version of the 360 should have been released instead of last year's model, that can run download games on its own, or plug into the back of the X1 to give it 100% backwards compatibility.

THAT would have been cause for celebration amongst gamers, and THAT would have kept pretty much all of their customers on side.

M$ Flip / Flop bollocks - June 2013

Xbox 180! MS, you've burned your bridges. Good luck without me, as my cash is going on PS+

Post E3 2013

****PS4 all the way****

Congratulations, Sony, and SHAME on Microsoft.

Xbox One Speculation - April 2013

So - another potential piece of the Xbox puzzle:


Meaning that the app, Kinect and XBL social services can remain active even when you're watching TV, and that a Sky and / or Virgin app could potentially communicate with the box to change channels etc using Kinect gestures. There's already a Sky+ app for Android that enables swipe-based channel changing over LAN.

Means that you could, for example remain available for Skype calls while there's somebody present in the living room, and 'away' when there's nobody around to take the call. I guess it could work with Smartglass to push the caller's video to a second screen. Maybe it'll just work seamlessly with the Skype app, taking video from Kinect, and routing the caller's video to a tablet or Smartphone.

NOT necessarily looking like games will require a continual Internet connection to function - BUT perhaps we can play INSTALLED games without the disc if we have a connection to carry out an occasional online check, to ensure the disc has not been installed and used elsewhere. If it has, then the disc is required to authenticate and play. Sounds SMART.

Being able to start a party or request an online game while still watching TV isn't a terrible thing.

Hopefully they wont forget about the GAMES, as I'll not be rushing out to buy a 400 mediabox companion that plays COD & FIFA.


- Halo 2 1080p remake on launch day (more likely to happen in 2014, really)

- New Killer Instinct in the launch window

- GTA V 1080p at launch

- Forza 5 at launch along with a Logitech partnership announcement

- Elite 1080p/60 remake as an XBLA exclusive

- X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter XBLA 1080p/60 remake - controller-based with Smartglass or Kinect controllable cockpit

- Road Rash XBLA 1080p/60 remake

- Sega Rally 1995 / Sega Rally 2 1080p/60 remake

- New Chase HQ game or HD port of Arcade versions

- Snap up any stragglers from Sony Liverpool & Bizarre creations, and make a new studio, also make or purchase a Japan-based studio and get busy with a new PGR game or completely revamped WipEout competitor

First party XBLA games ported across and ready for day one download. 3rd parties encouraged to port XBLA titles across using incentives. Re-think of indie games service - all XBLA and Indie games could be released on the Windows 8 Xbox app store simultaneously, with progress synced automatically and mobile options available.

Also, connecting a cheap, tiny, mini barebones cut-down Xbox 360 module with not much more than the CPU & GPU COULD be an ideal optional BC device, avoiding bumping up the cost of the console or porting anything over to x86 / Jaguar. This COULD plug into the back of the Xbox via an edge connector or possibly eSata or USB3, and might be the rumoured Xbox Loop device with no optical drive.

It could probably therefore be shrunk to the size of a new mac mini or even smaller. Maybe Apple TV sized plus space for active cooling. It'd be special if they could stuff the old nVidia chip in here to bring full Xbox compatibility as well, if that's even needed at this stage.

If by any chance this becomes Xbox 'Infinity' brand, then hopefully they can release a more powerful, compatible model in a couple of years to leapfrog the competition and offer 1080p/60 or better for more games as the tech gets cheaper, smaller and cooler.

This sort of thing will sell it to gamers. Microsoft have been SILENT other than Forza Horizon on 1st party games on the whole for the past couple of years apart from Kinect bollocks, so it'd be foolish to expect much other than a TONNE of stuff in development behind the scenes for this launch.

If not, then the PS4 with 8GB RAM is looking enticing for a 2014-15 purchase for me. Eventually - depending on price and games.

Hopefully they wont do a Windows 8 and cock it up.

DLC / value comment:

It simply doesn't cut it that people who have paid the full day one retail price for a game can't get all of the content, or at least the main, on-disc, prepared content, bundled via a code. Even if it's time-delayed and only released several months down the line (to 'keep the disc in the tray'), there should be several of the main pieces of DLC bundled with the pre-ordered, full price copy of the game. Those who get a discounted copy later, or a pre-owned copy, should have to pay up.

So currently, if I wait for a year (or often less), then I can get the game for 15 with all of the DLC included! What!?!?! Incentive much?!?

That's a broken system that encourages people to either TRADE (to recover some of the 40 in disgust at being asked to pay more to play the rest of the game), or NOT BUY (until the rest of the content appears, and the price drops).

They're basically depending on hype instead of value to sell their product at full price.

Broken - especially when we look at how games and developers get their 'funding' to develop content vs. the Movie industry.



- Use Sony's DLC gold pass system, allowing SOME free DLC handouts to those who redeem the code within x days of the release. Not draconian, and encourages new purchases.

- Make them GOLD in colour, and attractive, in order that people selling the game will retain them to hold onto the value.

- Make them collectors cards, like Baseball and Football cards. Top Trumps.

- Create a loyalty scheme, where people who hold these cards, expired/redeemed or not, can use them to obtain exclusive rewards

- Move towards an NFC or barcode/QR-code-like system for redeeming the passes, and away from typing in long strings of text using a control pad, if possible

'Project Natal' future wishes:

I want the 2nd Gen Kinect to run at 720p or 1080p, at 60FPS+, using hardware acceleration (throw an ARM chipset in there).

USB3 is the interface, unless they somehow head over to Thunderbolt (unlikely).

Next comes a break apart controller including a very accurate pointer system. One for each 'side' of the controller allows for dual-wielding.

Hmmm... what else?


Standard '3D TV' thread cut/paste comment:

Most people aren't taking into account that the next consoles will need to have monster GPUs to render 1080p/60 3D. If Sony / Microsoft aim for this, then there'll be little chance of them taking a 'Wii-like' technology sidestep to save costs.

3D works best when v-sync'd, so this BODES VERY WELL for 2D framerates and elimination / minimising of tearing in the next gen, for those who DON'T upgrade their TV sets.

It'll be near impossible to create a game that simply doesn't work for those without 3D displays, so calm the nonsensical hate, children. Even larger 2D panels will get cheaper, so it's a win/win.

We'll all benefit from the push to 3D.

Standard Sonyonlinefail cut/paste comment:

Sony can't 'do' networked software and services.

Standard Wii U Nintendofail cut/paste comment:

Wii puU

Standard Wii U sales and popularity comment:

I want to see what happens to Wii U sales when the new versions of the following games are released:

Monster Hunter
Wii Fit
Brain Training
Trauma Centre
Ace Attorney
Animal Crossing
Mario Kart
Mario Galaxy
Mario Party
Smash Bros

+ other 3rd party games that actually sold well on the Wii

+ The next big AAA multi format games that have a simultaneous release on Wii U, once the installed base reaches 2-3 million+

+ The first few big AAA games that are written from the ground up for Wii U, with no time compromises - such as Killzone 2 on PS3, Gears 2 on 360, HazeLOL on PS3, aaaaand UNCHARTED 2/3 on PS3 - ESPECIALLY.

In addition, I can't wait to see when Nintendo drop the following clangers this gen:

Wii Music (LOL)
Wii Vitality sensor

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