The Death Of Print, And The Growth Of Digital Distribution

This post is less about Xbox, and more about an observation that I’ve had recently. I subscribe to 2 gaming magazines: The Official Xbox Magazine, and Gameinformer (It’s kinda just packaged in with a Gamestop membership, but whatever). Just a couple months ago, OXM has started putting their magazine up for digital download via newsstand (Apple’s magazine store), and Gameinformer has begun to as well. I was happy because I had another reason to use my iPad, but also kind of sad, because it shows that print isn’t doing so well. After all, we can get newspapers, magazines, and whole books online now. We don’t have to wait for any of them to ship to our house, and because of this, many of the distribution companies are having a huge impact on profits. I loved getting the physical magazines because I could pile them up and see all of the stuff I had read, but I, along with a lot of other people, gave into temptation and subscribed digitally. I fear, like the music industry, the print industry will go almost completely digital in the near future.

I do, however, see some of the benefits to this. A lot more people have access to digital content now. Because of this, they don’t have to be weighed down by large books, as well as wait for things to come in the mail. This could actually positively affect the market because it’s now much easier for people to get their information, and so they might feel more inclined to subscribe to a digital magazine. Now I know this isn’t very Xbox related, but I do have a recommendation for everyone. I recommend going online and subscribing to Gameinformer or OXM. It’s incredibly cheap, and you don’t have to wait for it to get shipped to you anymore. This is a great way to get a taste for what the magazines are like, and if you end up hating them, there’s no trash to throw away! I think that these magazines (More OXM than Gameinformer though) are great tools for any Xbox user (The OXM podcast as well), and I would highly recommend them to anyone and everyone.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

UPDATE: I’ve played the game a little more now, so I’ve edited this review a little bit and added some more information at the end.

I’ve been playing KOAR (Let’s just go with KOAR, since the name is so big), and I’ve been having a pretty good time. It isn’t the greatest game I’ve played, but it’s definitely not the worst either. If you want to know the whole background and story of the game, I’m not going to be covering it here (Mostly because, in my opinion, it’s not that great. At least not yet. I’m still getting into it). From the beginning, it felt as though the game was lacking in something. Yes, the game has you customize your character at the beginning, but it doesn’t feel right. There are preset options for everything, so it doesn’t have full customization, but I didn’t really mind that too much. Little things, however, started to bug me. Continue reading

Playing Games For A Living

Have you ever wanted to play video games and get payed for it? It seems like every kid’s dream job, but it’s actually a possibility. Careers like game reviewers at gaming magazines are completely possible if you really want it. How do you get this job, you say? Well, Dan Amrich, the guy behind One Of Swords just wrote a whole book on it! He’s been reviewing games, talking about games, and playing games his whole life, and he gets paid to do it! He currently works at Activision as a community manager, but he has worked at OXM (The Official Xbox Magazine), Gamepro, GamesRadar, Wired, and others. If you’d like to know more about it, go ahead and check out his website (also in the sidebar on the right). The book is available on Kindle and paperback now, and will be on iBooks soon. So if you’ve ever been interested in working in the gaming industry, this would probably put you in the right direction.

Speaking of books, Hugh Sterbakov’s book that I mentioned before, entitled “City Under The Moon,” now has a full web page. It even has a sample of the book on his site, in case you were hesitant about buying the book before. So there’s no excuse now! Check it out!

Gaming In Space!

I know I’ve already talked about Mass Effect 3 a lot, but I can’t help mentioning BioWare’s latest news stunt. BioWare announced last week that they are going to be launching several copies of Mass Effect 3 into space. Yes, you heard right. Space. The final frontier, and all that. They will be sending them off on weather balloons, and then we will be able to track the games via GPS tracking on their website, with the hopes of recovering them when they land back on Earth. Not only will several lucky individuals get a free copy, but the games are predicted to land a week before the official launch. I was hoping there would be one soaring over San Diego, but unfortunately, they say that the games are going to be over New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berlin, London, and Paris. This is by far the craziest stunt by a game developer I’ve ever heard of, and I have a suspicion that once recovered, these games are going to go for quite a large sum on eBay. So if you live in one of those areas, watch your head! You just might be the recipient of the first video game from space!

How Games Can Change The World

Have you heard of TED talks? If you haven’t, then you will after you’re done reading this post. I’ve known about TED talks for a while now, these speeches made by extremely  bright individuals, and I’ve always been fascinated by them. They are always sending an awesome message, and I always enjoy watching them. I have just finished watching one video in particular that I found fascinating, even though it’s a couple years old, and I feel like I need to share it with everyone. The speaker talks about gaming, and how it can help change the world. I’m not going to try and summarize it, because it’s 20 minutes long, and she’ll do a much better job actually telling it than I can do summarizing it. So if you’d like to watch the video, click this link. If you’d like to give your own opinion on the matter, post in in the comment section below. Hope you enjoy it!

New Mass Effect 3 Demo

There’s a brand new demo out on Xbox Live, and I’m sure a lot of people are going to be talking about it. The third installment of the Mass Effect series is coming out soon, and to prep everyone for it, they have released a demo. I’d like to tell you what the demo includes besides the fact that it’s a third-person, open-world RPG, but I’m actually not sure if I’m going to play it. Usually I love a good demo, but I can’t quite get myself to download this one. I love Mass Effect, so you’d think I would want to play it, but the opposite has occurred. I don’t want anything spoiling the story for me before I get the whole game, and even if it doesn’t spoil anything, it’ll only tease me into wanting the full game even more! I have the same opinion towards large previews in gaming magazines (or spoiled news on the internet) regarding games that I’m really looking forward to. I just can’t have anyone spoil huge sections of the game for me. I guess if someone is curious about picking up ME3 without playing the first two, then the demo (and previews) would make sense, but usually one would think that they would want to play the first two before they wanted to play the third, because they’re not going to know what the story is about. Also, in Mass Effect, a lot of the things you do in the first two games actually carry over into the third through your saved games, so starting on the third game won’t have the same impact as playing the whole series. So if anyone plays it, feel free to express your opinion about it in the comment section. If you haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games, I would definitely recommend picking up the first and second game (they’re probably incredibly cheap now), or if you don’t want to play them, go ahead and try the demo! It’ll still give you a pretty good idea about whether or not you’ll like the full game.

Bioshock 2 Review

I finally got around to playing Bioshock 2 the other day, and I was kind of disappointed. It just didn’t have the same eeriness that the first one did. I guess it could be because of the fact that in this one, you play as a big daddy, and so you don’t have that same vulnerable feeling when you’re in a giant metal suit. I just never felt like I was fully immersed in the story, like I was with the first one. I felt as if this one was too “go here, shoot this. Then go here and shoot this,” whereas the first was more of a “go here, but take your time, enjoy yourself, and walk through the city to get there” kind of gameplay. I remember catching myself multiple times just admiring the environment in the first game. I rarely did that in this one. I did however, still appreciate the story. It was very compelling and I think being a big daddy within the game threw a huge twist in the story, but I just didn’t feel the same about it. I just can’t wrap my head around what the problem was. I also tried the online mode, and it was pretty fun, but it didn’t have much instruction, so I had to learn as I went, which was a little annoying. Don’t think that this review is mostly negative though. It still had great qualities. The graphics were nice, the story was great, and it even had a few little RPG elements in it, where your choices affected the game’s ending sequence. I just didn’t get involved in it as I wished I could have. However, even through all of the negative aspects in the game, I would still recommend this game to others. It’s a pretty quick play through, and you can pick it up for around 11 dollars at GameStop (or probably any other retailer for that matter). Can’t do much better than that!

What’s Reputation, Anyway?

I’ve been thinking about some of the features on Xbox live, and one that consistently confuses me is the “reputation” that we have on our accounts. Really, what does that even mean? 5 stars? It’s just an arbitrary point system with no given definition as to what a certain amount of stars means. On top of that, I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t have a 5 star reputation. So if that’s the case, why have it when everyone is the same anyways? The only other ones I’ve seen are 3 star accounts when they are first created, but even those go up extremely fast. In all of the years I’ve had an Xbox, I’ve never had a moment where someone’s reputation came into play. I would never look at someone’s rep. after they sent me a friend request. I would look at our related friends, profile information, and gaming history. Why would I care if they had five stars? After all, I’m not even sure what that means. I get more and more confused just thinking about it. On top of that, I’ve never understood the statistics you can look at that show how many people avoided you. I don’t even believe those numbers. When I was a kid, my parents had a setting on the Xbox so that I could only talk to friends, but somehow 10-15% of gamers that “avoided” my profile did so by filling out the gamer review on people’s profiles (can’t remember the name of it at the moment), and the reason? Harsh Language! I couldn’t even talk to them, and yet they still complained about my language? I don’t think so. I believe I also remember something like 50% of them avoided me because I quit early. Really? Who gets that upset when one player has to leave the lobby? I’ve never gotten so angry at someone leaving the game that I went on their profile and chose to “avoid” them because of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the system that Microsoft has in place, but I also realize that there’s several things that I just don’t understand. Hopefully someone can enlighten me…

MLG Pro Circuit Controller

There’s a new controller on the market for Xbox and PS3 users, and I figured I’d spread the word. It’s called the MLG Pro Circuit Controller and it seems pretty interesting. I’d definitely like to try it out. Mad Catz built the controller on the idea that every gamer has their own preference when using a controller. All of the main buttons can be rearranged in order to fit your style. Even the joysticks can be moved! You can now put the D-pad in place of where the joysticks are, or add weights to the bottom of the controller (Which is cool, but I wonder how it would affect gameplay). It is a wired controller, which at first I thought was a downside, but then it made sense considering it is designed for MLG (Major League Gaming) use. Nobody wants to run out of batteries in the middle of a tournament. On top of that, the cord is extremely durable and screws into the controller, which allows you to easily store the controller if you want. Lastly, the grips and faceplate of the controller can be changed to have different textures while playing. I found this controller to be quite fascinating, considering the fact that nobody has made anything like it before. I’d like to state that I heard this news on the One Of Swords podcast, so here’s another example of great news that they talk about. If anybody wants to see what it looks like, visit the Mad Catz website. The only downside I can foresee people talking about is the cost, but I don’t even think that’s a problem, considering what it does. It’s $100, whereas the regular Xbox controllers (wired) are about $50 I think. So if you’re looking for a new controller, might as well go for the top-of-the-line hardware being used by the pros!

Future Games On Xbox

I think the Xbox needs to have several strong new IP’s coming out at the launch of the console. Games that will push the boundaries of the console and show everyone the capabilities of the new hardware. Big games like Halo, Call Of Duty, and others also need to make an appearance at launch. They need to go all-out in order to get a large enough user base on the new console. All of the different big-hitters will attract the different types of crowds within the Xbox community, and convince them all to make the transition, instead of just one group. I also think that, if possible, a developer should try to make a good MMO for the Xbox Live community. All of the ones that have come out so far have failed miserably, and I’d like to see a decent MMO on Xbox. I know it’s hard to do, but if accomplished, we could see a whole new community of gamers move to Xbox. I also feel like a lot of the release titles should be console exclusive. That way, people have to buy the console to play them, instead of getting them on another console, like the PS3. Well, that’s about it. If anybody has any other ideas, feel free to comment below!