Honda Driving Simulator-Driving Like You Have Never Driven Before
Get real! Are we sitting inside a real Honda or just a simulator? We thought we could answer the question but we just didn’t. Why? It’s as real as it gets that’s why. Finally we could accidentally hit that dog crossing the road without hurting anyone. Ooops! The Honda Driving Simulator is here with some upgrades. Find out why we are on our toes aching to get on that fake 4-wheels and learn something we missed in driving school.
What you’re looking at…
If secondary students want to learn some real useful skills and develop reflexes vital to driving then this gadget is their best option. For the sole purpose of traffic education Honda has been making simulators for bicycles, motor bikes and, of course, cars for nearly a decade. Secondary schools have their eye on Honda’s latest toy and we think their investment is worth it. The Honda Driving Simulator is built specifically to help driver trainees detect potential threats on the road and develop reflexes to react to them in time.
The Honda Driving Simulator comes with 2-axis motion base type as an addition to the original 6-axis motion base type.
The Sunny Side…
- The high definition 42 inch LCD display is one of the reasons for the realistic driving experience we enjoyed. Looking at the screen, you’re not going to want to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the steering wheel.
- The touch panel monitor is user friendly. How could Honda miss that? Remember, this is a Honda toy don’t forget it.
- So did you pass or flunk? Yup, the Honda Driving Simulator displays the results of your performance at the end of the simulation. You get comprehensive feedback on what you’re doing on that virtual road.
- The Honda Driving Simulator also features “night mode”, “fog mode” and “highway experience mode” for a total and realistic simulation. You’ll be an ace veteran after sitting on this thing in no time.
The Shady Side…
- Driving simulation differs from real world driving with a driving teacher sitting beside you. If you made a mistake the trainer would immediately correct it. This is because of direct communication.
- There are certain scenarios where we thought a trainer was needed but the database and the broad array of situations the machine can create more than makes up for this. There is no doubt that driving simulation is the modern safe way to learn driving.
- The 2 axis motion base costs a huge $ 66,000 while the 6-axis version will cost you an eye-popping $104,540. It seems we won’t be bringing home one of these to keep beside our game consoles!
Every time we drive on the road we risk our lives. There’s no doubt that driving simulators like the Honda Driving Simulator are invaluable tools for safely learning driving without endangering the lives of others or risking your own neck. Some people give the Honda Driving Simulator two thumbs up and others give an A+. But if we are asked what we would do, we would take our hats off saluting Honda and that’s it.
Unlike some video games that are out there it’s available on multiple platforms; Xbox, Playstation, and on the computer, so that everyone that wants to play the game can without having to have the right console.
The game’s main character is one of the user’s choosing, and there is a different introductory origin story for each choice that forms the basis that the rest of the game is built on.
This isn’t to say that the story line is different depending on what choices you make, because over all you go through the same storylines no matter how you interact.
The difference is how you get the tasks done; you may be able to diplomatically diffuse a situation, or you may talk your way into a fight you didn’t have to have. The right discussions with the right characters can lead to rewarding side quests.
Some courses of action will annoy your group, because each character has their own set of morals, and may disapprove of your decision to help, or not help, a certain NPC.
You can affect how the characters feel about you to the point of forming a romantic relationship with them on one extreme, to having them abandon the party on the other. Each character that can join your party has their own unique traits, and the more they like you the more likely they are to impart that knowledge to you.
The plot is the typical one for most RPGs; the world is in grave danger and only you can help save it. Each character has a rich history and a full set of character traits and personality. Morrigan is a mage that lived in the backcountry with her mother learning the art of magic in a way not taught by the Mage Circle of Ferelden. Alistair is a Templar turned Gray Warden who had an interesting childhood.
These two are particularly interesting, because Templars are sworn to hunt down Mages that don’t conform to the Mage Circle standards, but they’re both in your party for a higher purpose. This is another area that the depth of the game comes in, because as you’re walking around town, these two will sometimes start bickering with each other.
There is witty banter, non sequiturs, and comic relief all interspersed in a long and intricately developed game. If you like RPGs even a little bit, this one is a can’t miss.
The actual gameplay is good too. The combat is of a real-time style, but does allow you to pause and control your party’s actions. You can set up tactics so that your teammates will heal when they need to, or pick off a weak enemy, or use a debuff on a strong one. Movement is easy, switching between characters is a snap, and the camera control is excellent.
The best part of the game is that you can pretty much set your own pace. You can speed through things, minimize boring storyline and get to the action. You can also delve into the deep storylines, plots, and history laid out at every turn. You can interact with your party to learn more about them, unlock different abilities, or blow them off and learn nothing about them except how they can help you annihilate the enemy. The game is a long one, but when it’s over you wish there was more. Luckily all signs point to a sequel.
Growing up watching cartoons, watching the Jetsons made me want to live in the future. All the flying cars, talking robots, and new fangled contraptions were in our future. Now as I look around at all the technologies, it seems that Hanna/Barbara might have gotten a few things right with their farcical cartoons! Here are a few examples:
Workstations. George Jetson is often pictured at his desk with multiple flat monitors around him while he twiddles away on a bank of buttons.
Video Conferencing. The computers often show video of his boss, Mr. Spacely as they talk back and forth, usually involving George getting fired. I wonder if Web Ex knows about this footage?
Moving Sidewalks. In many of the episodes, the characters don’t walk, but rather step on a moving sidewalk, much like what’s employed at many airports across the globe.
Video Games. Elroy played on an Envirosimulator much akin to today’s super realistic video games. Even George played cards with a robot for fun.
Robots doing work. In almost every episode of the Jetsons, there was at least one robot accomplishing some task. Sure we have industrial robots building cars and welding meta. Even robots vacuuming our carpets, but none of them talk back with artificial intelligence.yet.
Fooderackacycle. Sure we don’t have robots making our food yet, but we do have machines dispensing it¢â‚¬â€vending machines. And not just the old vending machines where food drops to the bottom but ones where arms retrieve the requested snack and even heat it up automatically upon purchase.
Super fast mail. In some of the episodes, they could mail something and have it delivered almost instantly. Sure it was a physical envelope, but today’s e-mail is the next best thing.
Virtual Pets. In several episodes, they have pets that aren’t animals at all, but interact like it. We have those too, called Webkinz and other online pets for kids. Sure it’s not a hologram of the pet, but it is indeed virtual.
What is even more exciting is looking at the technology that is still in the prototype stages. The things that will become part of our lives in the next few years that is distinctly Jetsonian in nature. For example, the ability to carry the communication devices with you. Sure, the iPhone and Blackberry are no folding car that fits in your pocket, but they can call a taxi, and track your whereabouts.
The Microsoft surface technology is another whiz-bang gizmo the Jetsons only wished they had. Handling data not with buttons but with fingers on a shiny black surface. This is our future.
Sure we don’t live in platforms high in the sky, parachute to our flying cars or use jetpacks to get to work, but we are getting closer and closer to the Jetsons every day. With the evolution of the digital camera, MP3 players holding thousands of songs, and the internet allowing us to communicate in dramatically new ways ala Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite, etc. , the future is looking even better than it did when we were dreaming of robots getting us ready in the morning and reading us books. Now if we could just figure out this flying car thing, I think we’d be set.
Video game sequels are some of the most anticipated products in the market. They can be more anticipated than television premiers and sell more than blockbuster movies. Franchise games like Halo, or Grand Theft Auto are among the more popular, and more highly anticipated, video game sequels. Both have released games that have broken all sorts of records for video game sales. The first day these games were on the market they made more money than record-setting movie Spiderman 3, and more money than record-setting book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The problem is some games are billed as sequels when they’re nothing more than expansions. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is one of these games. The game was a lot of fun, it was beautiful looking, and it had a good amount of playable characters and a great storyline. I enjoyed playing it a lot, but it felt too simple. There was very little added to the game that wasn’t in the first one. The customizable aspects and powers gained on each level were watered down a bit, but the way to use your character was a little simpler. The graphics were better and the camera movement was much better, but all of this basically makes the game seem very similar to the first, with a different story.
I enjoyed the storyline; I went out and started reading the Civil War comic books that it was based on. There is a choice that has to be made in the game that branches it into two separate set of levels before they reconnect later, which gives the game a pretty good replay value. The cast of characters is nice, but there are always more superheroes you can add. It’s neat to be able to control some of the supervillians in this game, due to the nature of the Civil War story line.
Another troubling trend in video games is the remake. This seems to happen more often with Nintendo and the Wii. A couple of weeks ago I picked up Wii Punch Out!! which is a remake of the old Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the NES. The game, obviously, has superior graphics. It has the benefit of modern controls and animation. Even some modern day toasters have more power than the NES system. All this makes for a very nice game. However, the problem is that anyone interested in the game is probably only interested in it for nostalgia’s sake. It doesn’t contain a ton of new content. It almost felt like cheating, because I knew all the tips and tricks to play the game.
This isn’t all bad. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of playing a game spruced up from an old classic. Franchises such as Madden NFL, NHL 2K10 or MLB: The Show release what is basically the same game every year and do wonderfully. The difference is that these games put a lot of work into doing what they can to be at the forefront of video game development. These sports franchise games, unlike other remakes like Punch Out!!, know they have to make people want to buy a game that is basically the same game they bought a year ago. Keeping up with one of these games is like tracking the evolution of the video game industry as they add new features and better graphics and utilize everything they can think of. MLB: The Show added weather to their games, Madden 10 introduced an online franchise mode and improved tackles. The graphics and animation get better every year, and they’re getting to the point that at first glance you could think you’re actually watching the real thing. The Madden franchise doing this for 20 years suggests that remakes, if done properly, can be very successful.
Video games have taken huge strides in the entertainment industry over the last decade, competing with many of the other top products. With the market and technology available to them only growing video games will continue to be a top seller. Whether it’s remakes, franchises, sequels, or expansions, people are buying them at record rates.
Some of you may be familiar with Penny Arcade, and online comic based on the adventures of Gabe and Tycho, two gamer dudes who pretty much do nothing more than glorified gamer things. This is my third year in a row, and I found that PAX had a lot to offer this year.
Here are some of the highlights.
Blizzard Entertainment has their Starcraft and World of Warcraft booths up. No surprise there. Their new version of Diablo is drawing quite a crowd, which is also not a surprise.
Nexon has three really cool games displayed that are all free to download: Dragon Nest, D ungeon Fighter, and an FPS game called Combat Arms.
Speaking of completely free, I also got a chance to try out Faunasphere, a browser based game where characters make pets called Faunas and put them in a Faunasphere. It’s a lot like other browser-based pet games out there, but not as cutsey-wutsey as Facebook’s Pet Society.
The Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) has a booth that is all draped off with elegant translucent curtains and elaborate dƒÂ©cor. It almost makes me want to join them, especially for $20.00 a month. It is good for almost $300 worth of savings on video games, as well as a chance to hang around and eat snack food.
CDV has their DS games which include I Love (with a heart) Geeks and My Little Baby. It also has PC games Divinity II and Serious Sam HD.
Turbine games is proud to be displaying D&D Online. I believe I covered much of this in a previous article.
2K Games has some sort of display that has this odd room that everyone is searching through. BioShock II and a new game called Borderlands is the big draw, though.
PAX often has a lot of energy drinks that are free to try. One of them is called Healing Potion from Mana. It comes in a fancy bottle like the one from Shrek 2, but it takes awful, like cough syrup. I feel less than healed. Another is some new non-carbonated ones from the Jones soda company. The Jones’ drinks are an improvement, but nothing that I would buy. Omni Consumer has a product called Tru Blood, which is supposed to be a fruit drink that looks like blood. I believe there is some vampire show in which characters drink this stuff, and this is actually what the actors drink. Who would have thought that Tru Blood would taste so delicious?
Nintendo has all the bells and whistles in effect, with the highlight being the displays of the new version of Super Mario Brothers for the Wii.
Disney Interactive has Split Second, which looks like a run-of-the-mill racing game. Not really what I would expect from the Mouse House. Pretty soon they’ll have Marvel-related games, thanks to that acquisition thing.
Sony’s PS3 display prominently features God of War, Ratchet and Clank: Future, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and an Eyepet, which uses augmented reality to make a virtual pet come to life.
EA’s booth makes you wonder what they don’t have. Some of the newest are The Saboteur, Army of Two, Dead Space Extraction, two Need for Speed games (Shift and Nitro), and a new Nerf game. Not to mention the Dante’s Inferno game that allows you to enter hell.
NC Soft has not one, not two, but three booths based on their successful franchises like City of Heroes, Aion, and Guild Wars 2. They also have some time to devote to Star Trek Online and Champions Online.
Bethesda is devoting much of their time sharing about Brink, a very Splinter Cell-ish looking game. Other games include Wet and Rogue Warrior.
FunCom has their barbarian fantasy MMO Age of Conan display set up. They also have another MMO game going on called The Secret World which takes place in modern times involving a global conspiracy.
As for iHarmonix, two words: Rock Band. Beatles Rock Band was on display prominently, and it looks very good. Fans could rock along with the Fab Four for one of the first times. Also on deck was Lego Rock Band, which uses bricks for the little bars that scroll upward.
Capcom had some interesting offerings with Lost Planet 2 (or Lost Planet Squared, depending if you read the 2 as an exponent or an actual number 2), Spyborgs, and Dark Void. The real draw was the new Resident Evil game.
Runic/Perfect World had an interesting downloadable game known as Torchlight which looked quite interesting. It involves you going into a dungeon and kicking butt, sort of like Gauntlet back in the day.
Phantom EFX had one of the most creative games that I have seen in a while with Darkest of Days, a first-person shooter that involves time travel.
THQ had this odd promotion for their DarkRiders game that consisted of a horse known as Ruin that was a mechanical bull that attendees could ride. Quite a draw for that, and you had to sign a waiver to ride it.
Stardock was up to their old tricks with Sins of a Solar Empire, and some new tricks with Elemental and Impulse.
CCP had their usual EVE Online fare displayed, not much new there.
WB games had Scribblenauts, which is easily one of the most original games that I have seen in a while. In the game you play a character that has to gather up stars in this virtual world. To succeed in your goal, you write you want. For example, if you want a ladder, just write ladder and one will appear. I am told it can do almost all nouns.
Flying Labs, makers of the Pirates of the Burning Sea MMO, were there in full pirate garb, using cannons to fire T-shirts into the crowd. Nothing new there.
Alienware this odd set up for that made you feel like you were in a UFO. They even had a bunch of booth people that were dressed like the Men in Black.
Ubisoft had their new Splinter Cell prominently on display, but I liked the Wii game known simply as Just Dance where you just dance. All the player needs to do is dance like the guy on the screen.
Nvidia and Zalman showed off their 3D emulators. There was a booth where attendees could see a preview of the new Avatar game (based off the upcoming James Cameron movie) that showed off its 3D as well. Yeah, I think 3D is just getting bigger.
So, if you have never been to a video game conference, this is what you have missed.
With the Monkey Island series now revived in the latest release from Telltale games, entitled Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, it might finally be time to announce that adventure gaming is back from the dead.
For any of you who didn’t experience the heyday of adventure gaming, The Secret of Monkey Island, released by Lucas Arts way back in the halcyon days of 1990, is considered by many to be one of the undisputable classics of the adventure gaming genre. Written in large part by Tim Schafer, the creator behind the upcoming BrƒÂ¼tal Legend, The Secret of Monkey Island had a fantastic story, hilarious and memorable characters, unique and satisfying puzzles, and some of the funniest dialogue ever featured in a video game. So it probably isn’t surprising that Monkey Island and its sequel amassed loads of critical acclaim and a pack of loving fans, who to this day nostalgically remember it as one of the best games of the early nineties.
Monkey Island wasn’t the only classic adventure game though. Indiana Jones, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Star Trek, King’s Quest, Quest for Glory, and many others were some of the most popular games of their time. But since those ancient, long-passed days of our youth, the adventure gaming genre has all but disappeared. What was once the most popular genre of PC gaming literally stopped existing, quickly and sharply losing popularity as the processing power of PCs and consoles ushered in an era of first person shooters and online gaming. It was a sad and puzzling development for fans of games like Monkey Island; adventure games brought great story telling, challenging puzzles and most importantly, an overall experience that was memorable in a way that no other gaming genre could provide.
As such, the fall of the adventure genre has long been a sore spot for its fans, and its long absence has been a puzzle that many couldn’t solve (pun totally intended). But recently Telltale Games, the company behind the comeback of another classic Lucasarts title in Sam & Max as well as the Strongbad and Wallace & Gromit games, has been slowly and lovingly restoring the once extinct genre. Their latest project, Tales of Monkey Island, is finally bringing back the classic Monkey Island franchise.
Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal brings back the ghost pirate LeChuck and the bumbling, well-intentioned wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood, along with all the ridiculous and fun stories that go along with them. I don’t want to give away very much of the story, since one of the best parts of adventure gaming is experiencing all the crazy puzzles and developments on your own, but much like the very faithful Wallace & Gromit series, Tales of Monkey Island captures all the character and style of the original Monkey Island, with recognizable voices, a bizarre and silly pirate story, and of course the humour that fans have come to know the game for.
The game has transitioned into a 3D affair, which might irk some die hard fans, but none of the charm of the original 2D version has been lost. The review copy we received had a few expected bugs in it, but these have no doubt been ironed out by today’s release, as Telltale hasn’t been known to let buggy products out the gate in the past.
Basically, Telltale has proven a few times already how proficient they are at bringing classic adventure gaming into the modern gaming world, and Tales of Monkey Island is no exception. So, if you’re a fan of the original, or you’re just hankering for some puzzle solving, story telling fun, then Tales of Monkey Island is an easy choice. The game is great and it is worth your time.
So that’s over with. Now on to the big question: does the revival of Monkey Island signal a comeback of the adventure game genre?
The easy, completely uninformative answer is that it’s hard to say. There are so many genres and so many game companies in the enormous modern game industry that it’s almost impossible to tell if Telltale’s updates of adventure gaming classics are making a significant impact on the gaming industry. Back in the nineties the market simply wasn’t as big, so it was easy to tell what types of games were most popular. In today’s industry there is such a massive selection of games that even good games tend to get lost in the crowd sometimes, never getting the recognition they deserve.
But there is another way to look at it. Telltale games has released four episodic series of adventure games to date and don’t seem to be losing any steam yet. If anything, Telltale’s adventure gaming focussed line of games is picking up momentum, making higher profile games for more systems, like XBox Live, then ever before. If this was an experiment to gauge the popularity and potential of an adventure gaming revival, then so far the signs are good. Telltale has seen enough success from their efforts that they’ve been able to continue releasing games with progressively higher profiles, finally reaching the coveted Monkey Island license.
Add to that the fact that the current infrastructure of the gaming industry is actually quite friendly to the adventure gaming genre. In an earlier article we discussed XBox Live arcade games to look out for, and noted that many of them are smaller-budget, experimental games that simply wouldn’t be possible at a large gaming studio. With avenues like XBox Live and profitable Internet distribution now available, companies no longer have to make every game an enourmous, corporate affair.
Around the time of adventure gaming’s demise these options simply weren’t available. PC gaming had grown to the point where bigger budget games were becoming the standard, and technology was advancing to the point where a simple 2D game wasn’t as attractive as it once was, but opportunities for more modest productions simply weren’t available yet. Adventure games were stuck in an unenviable position: with their once almost universal popularity giving way to PC gaming blockbusters like Quake and Duke Nukem, adventure games lost the drawing power necessary to justify the budget and team sizes that were becoming the standard, yet no alternative was available. Eventually, adventure gaming just went away.
But nowadays smaller companies can afford to develop games that aren’t necessarilly going to be the next GTA. In other words, small games can be designed by small teams without a Hollywood-sized budget and still be profitable, because the developers can get the game straight to the audience at a reasonable price compared to some of gaming’s behemoth titles. Of course, this means that modern adventure gaming is, for now, inherently a more low key phenomenon than it was in its golden age. These games aren’t being released with the budget, marketing and hype that blockbuster titles have behind them, and their popularity will be reflective of that.
But of course, this smaller, indie platform that adventure games are taking advantage of is a lot more than the nothing that existed a few years ago, and adventure gaming’s popularity only seems to be growing, even if a redux of Monkey Island doesn’t immediately usher in a new era of adventure gaming dominance. The games are lovingly crafted by fans of the genre for fans of the genre, and enough of them are buying through avenues that a few years ago didn’t exist that the future is looking strong.
Who knows, if Telltale’s games keep growing in popularity then some time in the future we may even see a big name developer try to get in on the action and take on the adventure game genre once again. For now, the technological advancements that once spelled the end of adventure gaming are now giving it a second chance. It’s safe to say that adventure gaming has found its way back into the industry’s heart, even if it is only a small piece of that heart.
So is adventure gaming still dead? If it is, it’s been looking awfully lively lately for a dead man.
Clearly, video games like Fallout 3 and other post-apocalyptic venues are not enough as a new MMO called Fallen Earth is about to hit the market.
I am not certain if this is the first post-apocalyptic MMO to hit the field, but I believe that the post apocalyptic genre has the potential to be the most imaginative. I can imagine that all the developers of Fallen Earth are scampering like crazy to make players a realistic landscape of what the world would look like after the buttons are pushed.
Then again, is that what happened in Fallen Earth? According to the Press Release, a disease started in Asia that was nicknamed the Shiva Virus. Thousands were dying, and, from out of nowhere, the release says: then the nukes started going off. What?! What is this, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy? No, you can’t have an apocalypse without a sufficiently written backstory, Fallen Earth!
Or maybe you can, but whatever the case, don’t just start some backstory without completing it. Perhaps the player will find out how the world ends in the course of the game. I don’t really think that I have seen that in an MMO game before. That could be interesting.
As it is, I have included a trailer that discusses some of the backstory and how the last ember of civilization assembled at Hoover Dam. I’m guessing that every character starts out there, and I would imagine that the first stage of this game takes place around the Grand Canyon area.
Hopefully, the player can go to bombed-out areas nearby like Las Vegas, Reno, or maybe even Los Angeles! I’m certain that you see the potential here of a virtual landscape that is just like the real world, but destroyed. Then again, many cities that you see in MMO games are just giant boxes of buildings with minimal traffic. At least I can understand the lack of traffic in this game.
As you can also see from the trailer, there are six different factions fighting: The Enforcers, the C.H.O.T.A.s (Child of the Apocalypse), the Vistas, the Techs, the Lightbearers, and the Travelers. I wonder if these are the character classes? Probably.
I have included another trailer of the game so you can see more of what Fallen Earth is about. There was one that I couldn’t find that boasted: Sick of ogres, elves, and pixies? So are we. Clearly, Fallen Earth is supposed to be sticking it to the World of Warcraft crowd. The slogan about bury your crystals and quit playing with your wand is just way too innuendo for me.
Apparently, the game also says it is the real deal and this isn’t your Daddy’s MMO. By the way, most MMO players don’t have daddies who play MMO games. You really should be stealing that old this is not your father’s Oldsmobile slogan unless your father has actually used an old version of that product!
Anyway, feel free to venture over to the Fallen Earth website if you want to learn more information about the game itself. This game has been under development for about four years, which is no surprise for an MMO, and I believe they might be ready for Beta soon.
Last week, when I reported that Turbine was allowing people to play Dungeons and Dragons Online for free, I only briefly mentioned the negative press that Role-Playing Games received in the early eighties and late nineties.
As a kid who used to play D&D and other role playing games, I heard stories of people who committed suicide when their Player Characters had died, and I didn’t really give it much thought. However, when many Christian groups began to equate the game as some portal into Satanism, I often wondered if they were talking about the same Dungeons and Dragons game.
I remember reading one Christian pamphlet that was supposed to be an expose on RPGs, but some of the information in it was just plain wrong. I mean, it said that the He-man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. I’m sure there are a lot of geeks out there now who are thinking: oh come on! Do your research.
I’m sure the person who wrote that pamphlet just didn’t get their facts straight. There was a Dungeons and Dragons cartoon that ran for about two seasons. They probably just heard that there was a Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, and just simply assumed that the He-man cartoon was it. It’s an honest mistake, but it shows how much conservative groups never actually researched, much less played the RPGs that they criticized.
There must have been some sort of anti-D&D bandwagon that was happening, and those who never played the game were creating a boycott for those who played the game. In the same manner, gamers who heard the argument against RPGs could not accept the facts as given any more than I did.
The alienation of RPG gaming eventually led to a very strong gamer counter-culture which is no doubt the target audience of most MMO and other RPG video games of today. Still, there seems to be a strong pervasive stereotype that says that gamers are guys who still live in their mother’s basements, and are completely incapable of living in any reality that is real.
For this reason, gaming continues to have a negative slant in today’s media. There is yet to be a movie based on a video game that has been a huge success, and most video games portrayed in movies tend to be negative. That is, you always see the geek characters playing them while the cooler characters apparently have better things to do.
Another negative portrayal is due out this Fall that is simply called Gamer. It takes place in a future world where gamers can somehow play other people, like puppets, apparently. Their puppets are actual prisoners put in violent scenarios, and the public just sits back and watches. Think of it a better version of The Running Man, but it has Gerard Butler instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yes, Gamer confirms all of our fears about video games taking over the world, turning into a hellish place. Once again, the video game industry gets another bad spotlight since The Ultimate Gamer. Could someone make a film that put video games in a positive light? Something that isn’t like The Wizard, which was some huge ad for Nintendo. You know, video games do inspire people once in a while. Every thought about doing a film about that, Hollywood?
In case you haven’t heard, Tony Hawk is releasing yet another video game based on his extreme skateboarding franchise. I’ve played a few of them, and found them very much the same. This new one, simply known as Ride, comes with a very unique accessory.
The board peripheral is motion-controlled, which would make it a more advanced version of the WiiFit Balance board. There may not be any wheels on this board, but the player can manipulate it as if it was a real skateboard. More advanced stunts, such jumping and grabbing the board, are accomplished by kneeling and touching the buttons on the side.
Tony Hawk: Ride is planned to be released later this year for the Xbox 360, Ninetndo Wii, and Playstation 3. There is supposed plans that the board peripheral will be used for other games like snowboarding and surfing.
This seems to be a trend among video game peripherals to be used for more than one game. For example, the WiiFit Balance Board can be used with other games where balance is important, and has recently been incorporated in the Wii version of Punch-Out. So not only can the player use the Wiimote and Nunchuk like boxing gloves like in WiiSports, but this new version of Punch-Out allows the gamer a chance to dodge blows by shifting weight on the WiiFit board.
Perhaps we are seeing a dawn of a new age of video games where the accessory is a heavy part of the action. After all, Guitar Hero and Rock Band were simply complex controllers that were in need of a game, and they have swept the nation. The soon-to-be released DJ Hero will have a turntable peripheral that could be just as popular.
Sadly, this was not the fate for Steel Battalion. This was an X-box game which required an advanced peripheral with two control sticks and forty buttons. Granted, it completely immersed a gamer into playing a vertical tank, but sales of units were quite limited due to its complexity. The high price didn’t help it, either.
I would like to suggest other games that would come out, though it would require a huge peripheral.
Starbucks Barista: The game comes with a very complex controller that can make virtual coffee, espresso, lattes, in many forms. Players must compete as the morning rush comes in, and points are given as they meet all the orders exactly.
Folk Hero: Imagine that you are mythical American heroes Paul Bunyan, John Henry, or Johnny Appleseed. It is easy with the axe, hammer, and seedbag peripherals.
Crazy Climber 2000: I realize that we are long past the year 2000, but an update of the old-school Crazy Climber video game is long overdue. Of course, this version requires the user have their own climbing wall and a Virtual Boy. Now the question you have to ask yourself is: which is harder to obtain?
Rifle Squad: This game is made for all the cadets at the academy that have to do those rifle drills like at the beginning of A Few Good Men. Some of you might not remember that film, and I suppose it would not help to mention the film Stripes. Maybe you should catch the end of the Hillary Duff classic Cadet Kelly. Anyway, the motion-controlled rifle peripheral along with the game will make you feel like you are a part of the spinning and stepping rifle team.
I can’t really think of any more of peripheral-based games right now, but I am certain that the video game developers will. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if similar ideas are under development.
So does this age of peripherals do to the video game industry? It will encourage more gamers to get off the couch, and immerse themselves in the game. In short, it is preparing us for virtual reality gaming.
With the help of ‘smartclients,’ gaming may be the leader into computing’s future.
The tech world is currently dislocated. The gaming market is fragmented and the PC concept seems to have no clear direction or leader. Developers and users want a return back to a simpler time where one device could be used for multiple functions instead of a collection of new, complicated devices that are incompatible with everything else.
One possible solution to gaming’s problems, Onlive, was announced last month. Onlive would utilize a private cloud to link up and deliver content, mostly video games. But as for everything else, it’s currently up for grabs between Microsoft and Google and computing’s next big move, called “3rd Rebirth.”
The idea of a small device that could very well handle a selection of single tasks was introduced by iPhone. Apple is rumored to be in the netbook game, and HP is supposedly in development with an Android powered netbook. The system composed of a small, inexpensive device connected with a back-end computing service could be coming to fruition with the second half of the system being handled by a private cloud.
VMware (NYSE: VMW), EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) are companies that are currently showcasing the private cloud concept. The private cloud concept has the cost advantages of cloud computing with the addition of being much more secure, reliable and contained.
The next generation of computing may likely be defined by the operating systems war that will touch off between Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Of course Microsoft and Apple are vastly more established, but have current OS that must avoid doing battle with the new OS they develop. This cannibalization process may end up evening the field for Google.
Introducing the SmartClient:
Google’s initial offering isn’t expected until 2010. It will be a cross between thin clients and PCs, defined here as “smartclients”.
It has been largely believed that back-end performance would be inadequate for today’s market, but with the consolidation of various platforms that is underway, starting with gaming, this may no longer be the case.
Solving Gaming’s Problems:
Gaming’s first cycle came to an end with Atari being the last one standing. It was soon overwhelmed with low-quality games. For a short period there was one platform that everyone could focus on.
With PC gaming consistently falling short, game consoles have flourished under Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Sony and Nintendo spawned smaller versions and there were 5 gaming platforms with a new one said to be on the way. In this system bridging 2 platforms with 1 game is near impossible.
The PC never seemed to get into the gaming world. There was hope that the PC would eventually displace the consoles, but it has never materialized. PCs and gaming systems have very different sets of strengths and weaknesses that remain in place today.
Enter the ‘SmartClient’:
Despite Apple’s avoidance of gaming, it has been the iPhone model that is currently drawing the majority of the gaming buzz. More so that both PCs and gaming systems.
The situation has not been beneficial for anyone. Developers and users all must gamble when producing and buying consoles and games on what will be the other’s choice. It has been inefficient, but it has continued to seem to be what both consumers and developers want.
Is the ‘smartclient’ the answer?
It has long been believed that evolution would go the way of PCs, and eventually TVs would be on their way out. Over time though, it seems to be going the opposite direction.
Google appears to be betting on TVs in the race in an attempt to displace Microsoft. It is depending on the development of devices that are similar to smartphones and TVs instead of the PC direction.
The computing Renaissance:
But Google will be dependant upon the new presence of the private cloud. Without it, smartclient-like devices will be relatively limited and unable to give the performance needed to compete with the PCs.
Onlive should be the first major test of whether or not the performance expected from a PC can be achieved through a smartclient type of device. If it is successful, it could possibly change gaming forever by making the gaming systems and PC gaming completely obsolete. We then would be able to have an appliance-like device complete with PC capabilities. With this we should be into the aforementioned 3rd rebirth of computers.
As of now the current crop of netbooks would be unable to make the impact necessary to start the push to the next level.
The ‘CloneCloud’ by Intel:
But the concept ‘CloneCloud’ has just been introduced. This would provide the ability to mirror the virtual polymorphic image of a low-powered desktop device, like a netbook, in the cloud, and sync the two constantly. This will provide a full on PC-type of experience, with the benefit of private cloud-type assistance. This would allow for a new world of tasks that wouldn’t even require the client PC to be turned on; only the virtual client running. You could then be able to switch between running a high level game, transcoding a movie while the third was running an intensive virus scan.
It’s hard to predict the future, especially in the tech world, but massive change is coming in the near to immediate future… Are you ready?