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September 9th, 2014
02:19 PM ET

Destiny's mingleplayer experience

Few realize that many of the first video games were multiplayer. It took time for computers to be smart enough to provide decent opponents, leading to the rise of singleplayer games.

Now Destiny is about to introduce gamers to a new type of gaming: mingleplayer. FULL POST

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Filed under: Games • General • Technology
September 3rd, 2014
10:03 PM ET

Game Faces: Rami Ismail

For a small developer that's just four years old, Vlambeer has a surprising influence on the gaming industry.

The Dutch studio is made up of just two people, but it's one of the most well-known indie developers. Co-founder Rami Ismail almost feels like an unofficial spokesman for the industry.

"We are not afraid to speak up against things we find problematic in the industry, and things we find interesting in the industry," said Ismail.

Indeed, he has been a staunch supporter of Anita Sarkeesian and her series examining women in video games - a series that has sparked a wave of abuse for Sarkeesian and those who stand with her.

He also suggested Vlambeer's high profile might be because the company always seems to find itself in the middle of the industry's latest trends. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Technology
June 16th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

Virtual reality's new reality

There’s something a little strange that one of today’s hottest trends in technology is… virtual reality.

It’s an idea that seems past its time; sitting alongside household atomic generators and personal jetpacks as visions for the future that seem laughable today. But VR isn’t a joke anymore.

I had the chance to try on the headset that has almost single-handedly revived interest in virtual reality: the Oculus Rift.

For now, the Rift is only in the prototype stage and has some way to go before it’s ready for consumers. Still, even at this early stage the potential of the Rift is incredible.

It looks big and bulky, but once it was strapped to my head I couldn’t feel the weight of the Rift. The whole setup is slightly cumbersome; you have the headset, then you have to put on headphones and find your controller — without being able to see either, because your eyes are covered by the Rift.

My first impressions of the Rift? It’s a little unsettling. I was surprised by the low resolution of the screen, individual pixels reminding me that my eyes were millimeters away from them; I was acutely aware of the edges of the display; and basically, I could feel like I had a big plastic visor strapped to my face.

But then you move your head… and your view of the world shifts almost perfectly with your movement. Move your head to the left, and you’re looking left.

I played a 3D platforming game called Lucky’s Tale (from the creator of Words With Friends). To be brutally honest, it felt a little like a simple Mario clone: You make a cute little fox run and jump along a basic path running from left to right. Then the path turns back to the left… and you find yourself scoping out the way ahead simply by turning your head to look at it.

Video games have allowed you to move your view of the world for years through a controller. It’s not a new idea. But with the Rift, looking around a game’s world is as natural as looking around our own.

That’s when the Oculus Rift experience starts to click, and it all starts to work.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • Games • Technology
June 12th, 2014
03:24 PM ET

Three standouts from E3 2014

E3 is one of video gaming's biggest events of the year; a three-day gathering in Los Angeles where almost all of the industry’s major players show off their newest titles.

Here are the three games that stood out most to me from E3 2014.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games
May 1st, 2014
07:54 PM ET

Game Faces: Jake Kazdal

It's always special to see a product that truly reflects its creator. GALAK-Z: The Dimensional bears the fingerprints of 17-BIT's Jake Kazdal. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Technology
April 1st, 2014
11:11 PM ET

Game Faces: Vince Zampella

The mark of a good multiplayer game is balance. Ideally, you want it to be fair for everyone who plays your game.

One simple way to ensure a fair fight is to give everyone the same tools. It's the easiest (and most logical) way to level the playing field. If everyone has access to the same weapons and same moves, the only major difference is a player's ability, right?

Titanfall is a multiplayer game built around a unique central concept: Giant armored mechs (Titans) battling with small and agile foot soldiers (pilots).

On paper, it is not a fair fight.

And that's what makes Titanfall so much fun. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General
January 31st, 2014
03:35 AM ET

Saving Nintendo

Nintendo is in trouble.

It's hard to disagree with that after it slashed its forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million to just 2.8 million. Less dramatic but perhaps just as troubling: It also cut its forecast for its market-leading 3DS handheld. Nintendo now expects to sell 13.5 million of them, down from the 18 million they originally expected.

But what's up for debate is how Nintendo can climb out of this hole. By far the most common solution suggested: Nintendo should put games like Mario and Zelda on smartphones and tablets.

I disagree.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings • Technology
January 1st, 2014
11:21 AM ET

Looking back at 2013

News Stream usually brings you stories about the power of technology to improve our lives. But in 2013, the top tech story was more ominous.

Since June, revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs have come to light. The fallout has been felt in Washington and the rest of the world.

Tech companies have expressed outrage over the U.S. government's spying practices. Listen to Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in Part 1 (above).

In Part 2, hear from Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales and examine the new generation of gaming consoles.

Finally in Part 3, astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks about his popular videos from space. And we ask what the future holds for mobile technology.

We hope you enjoy these highlights from 2013. We look forward to the year ahead!


Filed under: Gadgets • Games • Mobile World Congress • Technology • Titans of Tech • Viral Videos
September 6th, 2013
02:08 PM ET

LEGO: Getting more girls to build with bricks

With sales soaring 13% during the first of this year, LEGO is now the second-biggest toy company in the world.

Revenue growth was driven largely thanks to customers here in Asia, where the new "Legends of Chima" line has performed particularly well.

The company also says its LEGO Friends line is going strong. The franchise is unabashedly girly with its pink-hued boxes and sets like "Heartlake Pet Salon." When it launched, many said it reinforced sexist stereotypes.

So if "Friends" is more Barbie than LEGO, why is it such a huge hit for the Danish toymaker?

"It's really hitting at the heart of that particular consumer interest," LEGO CFO John Goodwin tells me.

"For a long period of time we had our evergreen products - the LEGO City line and LEGO Star Wars. But we felt there are a number of children out there, particularly girls, who were not getting themes relevant to their interest."

Goodwin goes on to say, "We are also seeing more girls' purchases of evergreen lines on the back of the Friends introduction because that whole experience of construction is getting more relevant for them."

So is a predominantly pink, gendered toy a bad thing if it gets more girls to build with bricks? I'm starting to think otherwise.

As for other female fans of LEGO who still can't stomach the series, there's always this - LEGO's first female scientist minifig.

August 30th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

Game Faces: Josef Fares

Video games aren't always seen as the best medium for storytelling. But I think they should be, for one simple reason: interactivity.

As the player, you're experiencing the story first-hand. Whatever happens to the protagonist of the story is happening to you as a player. How you act and react forms part of the story.

I think interactivity should, in theory, allow people to have a greater connection with the story. But too many games use non-interactive, cinematic sequences to show their most important scenes. At a time when games could hammer home the advantage they have over movies, the player instead puts down the controller to passively watch it unfold without his input.

So it's funny that it took a Swedish filmmaker to make a game that avoids cinematic tricks to tell his story.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Personal musings
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