PS3: I Love You, but…

I love the PS3. It’s wonderful. The original fat one with the piano black finish, the new slim one with the…. quieter stuff. Brilliant bit of hardware, Bluray player, online gaming for free (unlike the bloody Xbox360), but since PSN has been down for almost three weeks which has included not only the most Bank Holidays all at one time this country has ever seen but also a four day weekend thanks to some holiday booking at work.

Sony’s timing with the PS3 has never been good. They took so long to release it that I originally bought an Xbox360. That was 2006. It wasn’t until 2008 that I got the PS3. By that time I’d gotten really annoyed with the nature of XBL. Why? Oh I’ll tell you why:

1 – Arseholes. My console online gaming experiences were not pleasant (I was originally a PC gamer back in the day). Not that anything was done to me, but having to listen to the abuse people were giving one another…. not my cup of tea. I played some CoD4 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter before deciding that online wasn’t really for me.

2 – Paying to play games online. When you pay for XBL what exactly are you getting? The ability to tell your Xbox that you want to play online. All the dashboard and party thingies and chat doodas are ancillary. It’s ridiculous. I paid for the console, I bought the game, I pay my internet service provider, but if I want to use them all together I have to pay Microsoft for the honour of playing on a system that they have failed to keep secure?! The Xbox360 is hacked, cracked and exploited and Microsoft cannot or will not do anything to prevent it from happening. Bag of shite.

3 – I wasn’t really playing all that much and didn’t want to play online with a bunch of arseholes (see 1.).

Things have changed (not in terms of my opinion of paying for XBL – that is still a huge con no matter how you dress it up), I now have a number of friends online who are also XBL players, some exclusively which means that I’ve got people to join up with on games that I enjoy playing. And that’s the main thing.

Having decent people to be in game with totally changed the online experience for me. Donncha was actually the first person on console that I actually spoke to properly, and up until that point I had a really dim view of the online gaming scene.

Anyhoo, here’s the thing. If I pay for XBL live then I’m not sure how much I’m actually going to use the PS3. We already know that developers seem to put more effort in to coding for the Xbox and then do a shitty port to PS3 in the hope that no one notices. I’m more likely to buy a game on the platform that I’m paying to use as well which could mean that the PS3 is left to legacy titles and PS3 exclusives.

We’ll see how it goes. Should be on Xbox by next weekend. Add MrCheapKills for teabagging events and general shenanigans.

Peas and loaves.

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David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Why not check out my new gaming site: backslashgaming.com

Video Games: The End of the World is Nigh!

Investigative journalism BBC One programme ‘Panorama’ broadcast an interesting programme last night about video game addiction. It was entitled: ‘Addicted to Games?‘ and this was the blurb:

As pester power kicks in and the computer games’ industry launches its latest products on to the Christmas market, Panorama hears from youngsters who’ve dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day. They describe their obsessive gaming as an addiction. Reporter Raphael Rowe, meets leading experts calling for more independent research into this controversial subject, and reveals the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more.

Now I watched most of it. I say “most” because I gave it the same level of in depth attention that the creators put in to their “investigative journalism”. I listened to the majority of it while catching up on some computer stuff and glanced up every now and then to see what was going on.

For those who missed it here is the programme’s message in a nutshell:
– World of Warcraft and Call of Duty will take over your life and destroy you from within

For everyone else here’s what it was really about:
– Reporter (not journalist?) Raphael Rowe bleats about wanting to protect his children from the dangers of video games, and also share his concerns with other parents. Okay, fair enough – the children are our future and other cliches. I’ve got two so I know the constant pressure, concerns and self doubt you get over just about every decision that you make when trying to ‘do the right thing’.

But here’s the thing, our Raphael here is about my age, but I can only guess that he’s either a member of some remote Amazonian tribe that moved to the UK last Tuesday, or is Amish because I’m fairly confident that most 30-odd year olds are aware of gaming.

I’m also fairly sure that he, and the rest of the Panorama team are able to read. What’s that funny number and description on the game box for? 18? Is that months? Oh, Little Johnny is ten years old so Call of Duty must be fine for him. While you’re at it Raphael, get him some ciggies, a bottle of Scotch and a tattoo – they’ve all got those funny ’18’ stickers on them too!

Here’s how I deal with age restricted products with my kids:

if kid is < [age restriction] then DO_NOT_BUY
else
BUY

Sure I get the “…but whyyyyyy?????” and the answer is simple: because it’s not appropriate. Oh, look at that ‘pester power’ nullified by effective and consistent parenting. Problem solved.

So now that little problem has been resolved let’s look at the shocking tales of woe about childrens lives being totally absorbed by gaming:

There’s some adults that dropped out of University because they spent all their time playing video games. There’s a kid in his late teens who needs a bloody good hiding for being such a stroppy little bastard. Some guy who’s addicted to World of Warcraft and lastly there’s the Korean couple who allowed their own baby to starve to death while they took turns to look after a virtual child.

Hang on a minute….. I thought we were looking at protecting our children. Not our young, and not so young adults….. and some Koreans with low IQs (which is obviously an issue for Korean Social Services and not Panorama). Oh, my mistake – it’s just yet another episode of scaremongering and sucking in the hard of thinking. Panorama used to have some integrity, it’s programmes changed policy and raised awareness of issues. But now, as I said to SuffyWuffy on Twitter earlier, it’s nothing more than sensationalist trash.

When it comes down to it, the majority of the people featured in the programme were ADULTS. Physically and legally. I think even the stroppy teen was actually over 18, but why let something like that get in the way of a good story? Those of you with kids know that there is only so much guidance and discipline you can give your kids. There comes a point when it’s no longer your decision whether or not to allow them to make their own mistakes because they’re going to make them regardless of what you say. That’s when your job as parent becomes that of support worker rather than police man/woman/person. That’s the reality of life, your kids are going to grow up and they’re going to make some shocking mistakes along the way.

Personally, if my kids were to become addicted to something I’d rather it be gaming than crack or gambling.

I’m waiting for Jeremy Vine to introduce the episode where they find a WWII Bomber on the Moon (anyone remember that headline? (probably UK only)).

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Coding for the Lowest Common Denominator

Back in the 80’s (the 1980’s not the 1880’s) a trend began where technology was diffused not based on what was best, but by who had the biggest market share.

To my memory it first started with the VCR formats. On the one side you had Betamax (from Sony) and on the other VHS (from JVC). Both were developed by massive Japanese companies, but technically Betamax was the superior format. We had a Betamax VCR and my older brothers enlightened my young mind to not only piracy, but also The Evil Dead. It was a shockingly awful copy, but none the less it did have an impact on how I viewed the world, and particularly trees, for quite a while later.

You all remember Betamax right? Okay, let me rephrase that: all of you who are over 30 remember Betamax right? The rest of you are probably going Beta…who? Well here’s Jimmy Wales’ link for some background. In a nutshell what happened was that Sony were so confident that they had the superior product they were sure it would sell itself. JVC on the other hand embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign.

The result: prior to the DVD generation pretty much everyone had a VHS VCR and Betamax was mostly forgotten.

My second eye opener for better format/technology being trumped by better market share was with my first computer – the Amstrad CPC464 (and I know that good buddy Hypermole had one too). At the time the competition was the Commodore64 and the ZXSpectrum, however, the Amstrad and Commodore were both superior to the ZXSpectrum in graphics and general capability (a bit like PS3 and Xbox compared to the Wii today), but the ZXSpectrum had a much larger market share and as such many game developers coded for the Speccy and then ported them to the other formats.

So for many games played on full colour machines were made to suffer the four colour blocky graphics of the ZXSpectrum. Even then, in my young mind, I felt that I was being short changed. I had this machine with all these capabilities yet I was being denied the opportunity to fully experience them because games were being coded for a lesser machine. I could never understand why they weren’t coded for the better hardware and then ‘dumbed down’ for the other formats rather than starting with the ‘dumbed down’ version and….. leaving it at that!

Then we had HD-DVD versus BluRay. Thankfully, this time around the better tech won the day!

Now we’re in 2010 and it’s the same shit…. different decade. But this time it’s a more closely matched thing. I’m not getting in to a format war here. I have both Xbox360 and PS3 (and a Wii) and the PS3 is technically the most capable machine. Yet we’re still seeing the ‘start dumb and hope no-one notices’ approach to product releases.

Black Ops…. I was talking to one of the guys I game with and he said that it was clearly coded for the Xbox and ported to PS3, the Xbox experience being much better as well. And it seems that he’s not the only person to have noticed this as there is now a petition doing the rounds relating to the sub-standard service that the PS3 community is receiving from Black Ops and Treyarch compared to Xbox360 users:

http://www.reghardware.com/2010/11/26/cod_black_ops_refund_petition/

http://www.product-reviews.net/2010/10/28/call-of-duty-black-ops-ps3-version-has-been-gimped/

I don’t have Black Ops, and after seeing this news I think I’ll be definitely be giving it a miss. I didn’t mind so much back in the 80’s when people for the most part didn’t know what they were doing, but I don’t accept this now. It’ll be interesting to see what the excuses are this time….. if Treyarch responds at all.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Augmented Reality – the healthy way to eat sweets

In my last video on YouTube I mentioned sweets and asked what the viewers liked to eat, sweetie-wise. If you missed the video, then here it is [cue shameless self promotion]

The responses I had were varied and there seems to be a difference in what sweets are between the US and Europe. Sweets to us are what Americans call candy, but it’s all good – I learned about some different types of cake. Mmmm cake.

Which brings me neatly on to exactly what this post is about. I’m one of those lucky people who doesn’t tend to put weight on. You can’t fatten a thoroughbred, or so the saying goes (although I think it has more to do with the fact that I have a very healthy relationship to food).

But what if you’re a gamer who’s not really getting enough exercise and you spend all your time popping Skittles. As your belly bursts through another pair of sweat pants you check on your favourite tech shopping site and find this:

Augmented reality – blurring the doors of perception in 2010.

I think that it’s pretty cool, and halfway through I did get a little bit excited. But then I realised something….. I don’t play video games to run around the room or scoot around a table. I spend enough time running around as it is. There’s a Nintendo Wii gathering dust on the shelf because I (and we in the house) play games to relax. Punching the wife in the face while pulling my hamstring might be fun for certain sectors of society, and footballers (translation: soccer players), but that’s not what gaming is about for me.

The concept is really interesting, and integrating Skittles is a fantastic marketing and advertising tool (they must have vetoed the Pepsi Riot Cannon in earlier drafts). I don’t know if anyone remembered many years ago Barcode Battler…. I didn’t have it or its many clones but over the years there have been many variations upon the theme of using everyday resources to empower your toy. This Augmented Reality concept could very well be the next step and a real way for companies to increase their visibility and relevance using technology and games (if augmented reality applications become common place).

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

*NSFW* So I Threw My Toys Out of the Pram

I’d always said to myself that I wouldn’t put out a rant video. What’s the point right? Moaning just makes you a moaner. Well, over the past couple of days I’ve gotten more and more frustrated with the crap that’s going on in the community and on YouTube. And not saying anything is the same as actually saying that what is going on is okay. Well, it’s not.

The Battlefield community on the whole is great. Pretty much everyone knows who everyone is, even if they don’t know them personally, or have gotten in game with them they’re aware of their existence, and for the most part everyone is supportive of each other and their play styles. This is mainly because unlike Modern Warfare 2, for example, there is not one single way to play BFBC2. It’s ACTUALLY a team game, so the person at the top of the leader boards, or with the best stats is not necessarily a reflection of their contribution to the objective (you don’t get any points for using smoke, being a spawn point, or using the Blackhawk as a taxi for example).

What made me blow a gasket was the whole “My stats are awesome, your stats are not, therefore you suck, I rock and everything you ever do is invalid compared to my obviously superior opinion” attitude that some people have. It’s unfortunate that that attitude gets so many followers because it creates situations where people care more about their stupid stats than they do about actually playing to win.

So here’s the thing, I’d been having a great run of games with the guys I game with regularly and at least one other squad was made of people from around and about the community. But as time went on it was just our squad and a load of randoms. When it came to attacking on Arica Harbour the game took 50 minutes! Admittedly the defenders were pretty good, but we should not have lost. We wouldn’t have if the rest of the team had actually played the objective instead of sitting in the spawn massaging their KDR!

Then the next day I saw a video where the commentator not only denigrated another commentator for having lower stats than him, but then proceeded to declare that he himself was absolutely awesome at the game while he…… massaged his KDR. He did NOTHING for his team. Skulking around and getting kills while the rest of his “team” did all the work. So not only did maintain his obviously superior stats, he also gained a win off the work of others. This preaching about stats, and ‘watch me not help my team in any meaningful way’ creates a mindset in people who believe the bullshit that their stats are some sort of currency. It’s not. Stats mean nothing if you’re more concerned about protecting them than you are in playing the objective properly.

So something needed to be said. I went against my promise to myself, but I’ve had enough of this bullshit. And I’ve had enough of people believing their own bullshit. Although more paradoxical and frustrating is when people excuse, or make excuses for these people. I’ve heard it all from “Oh, but they’re being forthright”, to “they’re having a bad time, he’s just misunderstood”…. bullshit.

Douchebag is as douchebag does. I know many people who are damned sight more forthright, and I know many people in worse situations, but the difference is that they’re not arseholes who need to douche on others for their own….. what? Ego? Self esteem? Pleasure?

Bah! Whatever, YouTube drama – HOORAY! And I fully expect to lose some subscribers after my rant video – but that’s fine because I know who the people are who’ll stick around, and they are who my channel is for. It’s not there, I’m definitely not here, to massage egos or suck up to other people. It’s for gamers who have a life and actually go outside.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Youtube, stats and bullshit allow me to let you in on my attitude to YouTube: I don’t care about YouTube. YouTube is a convenient place to put my vids, that is all. Recently there’s been someone thumbing down my vids – I don’t know why. It could be that I banned them on Hupit, but it could be for pretty much any reason. Well here’s a message regarding my attitude to the thumbs/rating system on YouTube:

Yes, I thumbed down my own video. I’d thumb down all my videos to get my message across if I thought it would actually make a difference.

Yes, I’ve sort of thrown my toys out of my pram. Am I proud of myself? Not particularly, but I sure feel a whole lot better.

And so, my parting shot. If you go about being an arsehole then you have to expect some of that come back at you. Only someone who is incredibly mentally deficient would fail to grasp that. To put it simply – you reap what you sow.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Amstrad Action Magazine – insert nostalgia here

When I were a kid, and all this were fields, after a long day working down t’ pit shovelling coal twenty six hours a day for thruppence and clip round the ear I’d take time out to read Amstrad Action magazine. This would be odd if I was a Spectrum, Commodore 64, or even an Amiga owner… but no, I was an Arnold Fiend. Bought for me for Christmas from Debenhams.

I was expecting the monochrome (green screen) version, but Santa was extra nice that year and the colour version was stuffed down the chimney instead. We had a gas fire too, so it was an extra achievement getting it through the flue in one piece.

Amstrad Action opened up a plethora of information for me. Before the internet you had get information on games tips, strategies and cheats (oh, come on – the games back then were designed with impossibility in mind!) from only a couple of sources – the publisher, magazines, or word of mouth. Unfortunately for me I was the only Amstrad owner in my school (I was special like that…. no, I was special, not the school) so word of mouth didn’t really work out when everyone else was on Spectrums. Although, due to lazy programming I got to experience games as if they were on the Spectrum as most developers just ported from that format to the others (so nothing’s really changed twenty five years later).

Anyhoo – memory lane revisited this afternoon when Donncha pinged me this article:

Amstrad Action: History in the Making

So thanks Donncha, Retroactionmagazine.com, and of course….. Future Publishing and the Amstrad Action people.

Cover tapes FTW!

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

MOH, Black Ops, BF:Vietnam…. Decisions.

There are three first person shooters (FPS) options coming out within the next couple of months. There’s Medal of Hono(u)r from EA/DICE due out on October 12th, Call of Duty Black Ops from Activision/Treyarch on November 9th and the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam expansion pack (again from EA/DICE) due to be released in “winter”. Decisions will have to be made.

What to get, what not to get. Whether to bother getting any of them….

Here’s my position at the moment. I played the MOH Beta and was fairly uninspired. Apparently EA have made many changes to the game since the closed beta…. but they can’t change what it is: a connection based shooter. And as everyone knows, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Talking of connection based shooters, Black Ops fits there too and to be perfectly honest I think I’ve had it with connection based shooters.

Oh..what’s ‘a connection based shooter’? Good question. It’s all about ping, and how it’s dealt with. Essentially, the lower your ping, the more advantage you have. I’ve touched on ping before and its effects in game, but in a nutshell the person with the lower ping has their actions recognised by the server first. In connection based shooters this equates to lower ping, rather than fastest finger, wins. For example, if two people face each other off, Player 1 has a ping of 50ms and Player 2 has a ping of 100ms. Even if they both press fire at EXACTLY the same time in the real world Player 1 is going to blow away Player 2. Brilliant.

Recently, I’ve picked up CoD4 and 5 and my gaming experience has been very poor because of ping. Especially as most connection based shooters do not use dedicated servers which means that every player is not only at the mercy of their own connection, but also of that of the host! For many people it’s not something they even think about, but for me it’s a major pain in the ass and I’m fed up shelling out cash for a bad player experience. Having two decent rounds out of ten just doesn’t appeal to me which is why I’ve recently been playing less connection dependent games (and non-FPS).

So if we’re decided that MOH and Black Ops are not going to get a look in due to their connection based nature (and MOH is poo) then surely that leaves the Vietnam expansion pack for BFBC2. A sure fire bet!

No. EA and DICE have pretty much blown it now. Why the hell would I want to give a company MORE money when they continue to insult us. Oh sure, there’s the Gun Club “loyalty” system, in which I’ve earned two rewards so far, one which is anonymous and “coming soon” and the other is as useful as a chocolate teapot (early unlock for the M24 on MOH…).

Currently, as far as I’m concerned, BFBC2 is a mess and will continue to be a mess until they sort out the crate bashers. Conquest and Squad Death Match are not as engrossing game modes as Rush, but what gets me is that crate bashing was a game ruining “feature” in BC1….. so why is it in BC2 at all? DICE apparently have 34 “issues” that they’re looking in to from feedback on the forums – what those issues are, and which of them they will realistically fix, seems to be a closely guarded secret.

While BFBC2 continues as is, I won’t be buying any expansions for it. And when BFBC3 comes out, maybe I’ll just wait for six months after it comes out and get the Retail Ultimate Edition for less than the release edition with all the added bits that everyone else paid for….and a cherry on top.

So that’s nought for three at this moment in time. I’m finding it very difficult to be enthusiastic about any shooter games because it’s effectively all the same bullshit wrapped in different packaging being sold to us by a bunch of spivs who want the dollar, but not the responsibility.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor at hupitgaming.com