Immersive, Personal, and Connected

On Tuesday May 21st , these were the words that Microsoft used to describe its next generation console, the Xbox One. With upgraded hardware and some impressive industry partnerships, Microsoft has a big lead in the future of console gaming. Microsoft’s announcement seemed to focus less on the gaming aspect and more on the entertainment value of the new Xbox. With HDMI pass-through and a completely redone Kinect the new console will sit next to your AV equipment not just as a console but an all-in-one entertainment experience.

The Xbox One

The 8 core micro-processor loaded with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive will provide your games and apps an ample amount of power and performance to achieve new standards in gaming and entertainment. Microsoft has also added a Blu-Ray player this time around along with USB 3.0 and 802.11N wireless with Wi-Fi Direct. The Kinect, which will come standard along with a slightly redesigned controller, also got quite the upgrade. It comes with a 1080p HD camera, 30 FPS color, and a new microphone array that will be able to filter out your voice from ambient noise much better than its predecessor. All this is quite impressive but what does it all mean?

Let’s start with the Kinect. The camera can see in the dark and identify you by your voice. It can tell you your heart rate and how balanced you are. Currently it can detect wrist and other joint movement. Exercise and fitness related video game developers are going to love all this. The voice commands were very responsive in the demo and the command language seems a lot more natural: “Xbox on” and “Xbox, open Internet Explorer. The controller got some love also. It included a minor redesign with an integrated battery, and the controls look more tactile than the previous 360 controller.

Xbox SmartGlass, the application that is available to control your Xbox 360 experience, is more integrated with the new Xbox One. The app was used all throughout the demo from the announcer’s mobile phone but could also be used on your PC, laptop, or tablet.

Some of the key things that I took away were the voice activated “Instant On” feature. So does this mean it’s always listening? The ability to quickly and easily switch back and forth between TV, Skype, Video games, and movies was fantastic. You can also do two at the same time. Playing a game and a Skype call comes in. No problem. You can watch and surf the web in Snap mode, which is just like the feature in Windows 8 where you can have tiled exclusive applications like your desktop open while your news app is docked to the left or right. Another great feature is the ability to search your cable guide with your voice using the Kinect. You can search by station, program name, and/or time.

Another big draw, especially for me, is the partnership with the NFL. I can only imagine what the Super Bowl will be like next year. I am guessing it will be super interactive. Fantasy football just got cooler with the integrated TV you can check out your fantasy QB live while he is playing. There is also going to be some work with ESPN, another one of my favorites.

Cloud connected. The “Cloud” is a really overused buzz word and in many cases has multiple meanings and it’s the same for the Xbox. Games can utilize cloud based information such as live stats from other players. Your TV guide can show you what shows are being watched by your friends and what’s trending across the Xbox community. As you can imagine the other part of this is that advertisers are going to be foaming at the mouth to take advantage of this new medium. Ugh…

Video Games!!!! That is why we have an Xbox. They don’t disappoint here at all. The game footage they showed at the demo was fantastic. With that cool new tech you now have mind blowing graphics, insane physics, and extremely detailed characters. The stuff that was PC only is coming to the console. WOW and I don’t mean that silly MMO with like 10 trillion subscribers. They redesigned achievements too. Achievements will now span across games and experiences keeping track of what you earned and how you earned it.

Matchmaking now has a new name. Smart Match. Let’s see how smart it is. Supposedly you can be watching TV playing a game or listening to music while the Xbox is finding you a sparring partner  for your favorite FPS. Oh, and once you get into your game, you can DVR it. Hell yeah! This is the new ultimate “check out this move” tool.

Microsoft also announced 15 Xbox Exclusive titles in the first year. 8 of the 15 will be new franchises. They are also partnering with EA for exclusive content with their FIFA and Madden games. I can’t wait to see the new Halo on this hardware!!!!! Forza 5 looks insane and a new concept from the creator of Alan Wake and Max Payne called Quantum Break looks very promising and will most likely take advantage of the new shift in gaming that the Xbox One brings to the table.
Did I mention Halo? How about a live Halo TV show? You got it. Xbox will also have its own television network with original programming and movies. Talk about entertainment.

I am pretty excited about the whole announcement. I am sure there are other things that they are keeping quiet for now so you should expect more. They haven’t even done E3 yet. You can check out E3 starting June 11th through the 13 at the LA Convention Center. I know I will be watching the myriad of Internet and television broadcasts.

What else is there to say? Sony has a lot of work to do. I think Microsoft is really taking entertainment to a whole new level. Sony hasn’t talked about much but I am not sure they are as heavily invested as Microsoft is at this point. All I know is the next generation consoles are going to be EPIC!

Did you miss the Microsoft demo event? Check it out here and here.

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SuperGamerPodcast #10 – Diabolical

Miss us? Find out what the SGB crew has been up to lately. Diablo, E3, and Avengers Assemble!

SuperGamerBros Podcast #10

KarmicCycle, TechnoHermit, and MasterMaximus

 

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SuperGamerPodcast #9 – Livin La “Vita” Loca

Find out what the SGB crew has been up to this month. They also cover the PS Vita, SW TOR and a few other games.

SuperGamerBros Podcast #9

KarmicCycle, TechnoHermit, and MasterMaximus

Music – Space Girl by The Imagined Village

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First Galaxy Problems

If you have listened to the podcast at all then you probably picked up on something about me. If I say I am not going to buy something, there is a pretty good chance that I am going to buy it. So…

I started my SWTOR journey just two weeks ago and I am pretty hooked so far. My guild is migrating over from WoW and I am pushing through the storylines on two characters and am about to make a third for tanking duties. But, like with all things I love, I have some issues. I’m going to get them out here.

Why are there even mailboxes in this game? I carry a personal holocommunicator and have an electronic bank account for my credits. There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to check my mail anywhere, just like I do in real life. The only argument against this is if an item is sent to me, and it is a pretty weak argument. Droids swoop down every time I level or advance a mission objective, they certainly could deliver the belt and shoes I ordered.

Speaking of my holocommunicator, why would I ever need to return to someone to tell them I finished a mission for them? If I had to get something for them, fine, I get that… but if all I am saying is, ‘hey, I cleared the path of bandits for you,’ then there is no reason for me to hike two miles back to the city to say it to his face. Again, technology that we have right now that the space-faring, galaxy-spanning, world of Star Wars lacks, apparently.

I’ve never been to New York, but I am pretty sure if I went to the airport and asked if I could go there they wouldn’t deny me because I haven’t ‘discovered’ it yet. This piece of archaic progression control really needs to go. I shouldn’t have to discover places in order to travel to them, I am pretty sure that shuttle or taxi knows how to get to every place on the planet and doesn’t need my directions. You know what would stop me from just flying off to the highest level area in a zone? The fear of death… which,come to think of it, is probably the same reason I haven’t flown to New York yet, either.

And the game has already established that every hour I can call a shuttle to come pick me up and take me anywhere on the planet (that I’ve been to, of course). This shuttle can even pick me up indoors, somehow. Yet, the damn thing can’t drop me off directly at my ship? It can traverse a mile of mountain caverns, but can’t float down an open-air port to deposit me at my vessel/home?

This is some serious science fiction we are talking about here, it is about time it started acting like it.

(If you would like to join me, I am on Drooga’s Pleasure Barge server. Guild name is Cereal Box Thermal Detonators)

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So good to see you again, X-COM

X-COM was one of the first PC games I played (well, that isn’t true, if you count Jumpman and Shamus on my Apple IIe, but I am talking about more modern games here… sheesh I know I am getting old when I am referring to 19 year old games as ‘modern’. Ok, this aside has gotten away from me, where was I… oh yeah, X-COM) and still has a special place in my heart next to Legend of Zelda, Yar’s Revenge, and Metroid.

You can imagine my disappointment when they revealed the newest game in the line as an FPS instead of its Turn-Based Strategy heritage. The new game doesn’t even look like it has anything to do with X-COM except that it has Aliens and a human organisation that fights them, and if that is all it takes to be X-COM then MiB were the shittiest X-COM movies ever.

Just as I was about to write the eulogy on another bit of my childhood, Firaxis Games swoops down like a Valkyrie to breathe some new life into it. XCOM: Enemy Unknown hopes to be more true to the original title, and I wish them godspeed. They have a hefty legacy to live up to.

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SuperGamerPodcast #8 – I used to be a podcaster; then I took an arrow to the knee.

The SGB crew are back in action and talking about Skyrim and SWTOR among others. Sit back and enjoy! FUS RO DA!

SuperGamerBros Podcast #8

KarmicCycle, TechnoHermit, and MasterMaximus

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SuperGamerPodcast #7.1 The Lost Episode

We recorded this episode (twice) a couple weeks ago and, despite a few setbacks, it’s finally ready. Enjoy!

SuperGamerBros Podcast #7.1

KarmicCycle, TechnoHermit, and MasterMaximus

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Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League…

…to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan armada.

So, I decided to give League of Legends a try despite my dislike for PvP and RTS PvP in particular. I was shocked by some things. Lets talk things.

First, for those who know no LoL; a primer. (If you already know LoL, skip this paragraph) LoL is the spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients. DOTA was a community made game mode/map for WarCraft 3, where the player takes the role of a single hero to do battle against opposing player’s heroes.

My preconceived notions were twofold: I thought LoL was strictly PvP, that it stripped away all the other elements of the RTS and was just a duel between lone characters. I also thought that each hero had one life, that the game was a glorified deathmatch mode for an RTS.

WRONG: The game is more of a base defense strategy game than a PvP game. You have a central structure you need to protect, and three lanes into your base that have two turret structures each (there are a couple more structures in the base, and more turrets, but I am keeping this explanation simple.) Strings of minions spawn from your base and march down each lane at regular intervals. Left on their own, the minions from each side will just negate each other outright.

That is where the strat comes in. Your champion can turn the tide of any of these lanes, squashing the opposing minions and destroying turrets to clear the way for your force to penetrate the enemies base. Of course, you have to contend with your opponents’ champions, and work with your allies for control and defense of these lanes.

WRONG AGAIN: Also, if your champion dies you aren’t out… at least not permanently. You respawn after a hefty timer, leaving your lanes weakened. You definitely need to be on the better side of a K/D ratio to succeed at LoL. Also, there is an RPG element to the game, where you level, gains skill points, and accrue gold which can be used to buy equipment at your base.

LoL is still, at it’s core, a competitive game. I have only played co-op vs bots, and I think I will stick with that formula. I have heard that live players are brutal and unforgiving to the newb, and I just don’t have the time or dedication to put forth on mastering it. The beginner AI is still a challenge for me.

The game has two big things going for it. One: It’s free. Almost everything you can purchase with the real money currency can also be bought with a game accrued currency (but at a much more expensive price). I actually wouldn’t even mind throwing some money their way, they made a great game and I already have put about as much time into it as I would have for most 60 dollar Triple A FPS console games. Two: It has an amazingly complete tutorial. From your first login, it will hold your hand through the basic controls, then into a simulated match with AI allies and opponents, and after that it points you to the co-op matchmaking vs AI.

If you are already on LoL, or decide to give it a go, friend me up.

tl;dr: LoL is a surpisingly fun strategy RPG RTS, as long as you stick to facing bots.

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A Man Can Change.

I have been a console gamer all my life. I’m no fan-boy that favors one console over another. Every console and handheld that I have gamed on has brought something to the table to interest me. Starting with the Atari 2600 and going right up through to the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360, I have gamed on them all at least a little (yes, even the Pippin). In fact, the only thing that has kept me from owning every home video game console is money. Life necessitates that I spend money on things like food, clothing, and shelter, so fun sometimes takes a backseat. Fortunately growing up I had friends that were gamers too, so if I didn’t have a particular game or system usually one of them would.

Despite all of the gaming, I spent relatively little time gaming on PC. I had one friend who lived nearby that gamed quite a bit on his IBM PC. I would go to his house and play Doom and Wolfenstein 3D every now and then. I played some Wizardry too, but as a kid, it just felt weird to play a game without a controller and on such a small screen too! I’ve had PC’s since my mom brought home a Packard Bell in the late 80′s. Gaming has always been a separate thing for me that had to happen away from the computer. I never gave myself a chance to get used to the mouse-and-keyboard interface so I didn’t like it. But now approaching my mid-thirties, I have started to spend about half of my gaming time on a PC.

Thanks to MasterMaximus‘ computer savvy, I have always had a PC that was way more powerful than I actually needed for the emailing and web surfing that I did with it. That has changed in the last year or so. I started playing games like Civilization V, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Portal 2, Brink, and Super Meat Boy (which has become my favorite game of the current generation). My wife has been playing Civilization, Age of Empires, and The Sims for a few years now, and I just used to be glad that I could fire up a console while she was busy on the PC. Now I can’t wait for her to get done so I can game it up on the PC. Of course MasterMaximus has been telling me for years that games on PC are generally better than their console counterparts, but like any good brother, I just blew him off and told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. I think once I wrapped my brain around PC style control schemes (or, if I must, many games now support gamepads) and got a good-sized monitor, that is when PC gaming finally clicked for me.

As long as there are consoles, or at least as long some games are only available on consoles, I will play games on them. However, as long as it is relatively cheap to have better performance and better graphics on a PC, I will be spending much more time than I used to with my mouse and keyboard.

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SuperGamerPodcast #6 – This Podcast Is Free-To-Play

KarmicCycle and TechnoHermit talk about Steam, F2P, some FPS’s including Modern Warfare, Crysis 2, and much more. Meanwhile MasterMaximus is AFP (Away From Podcast) mourning the coming loss of Star Wars Galaxies. :-(

SuperGamerBros Podcast #6

KarmicCycle, TechnoHermit, and MasterMaximus

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