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Senior Web Engineer. Open web / music. Remote DJ. Tall Dutch guy. #3million

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Understanding the adaptive Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is redefining gaming by adapting to the players environment. Unfortunately, it is widely misunderstood. It provides fun when used alone, with others, or with other Switch owners; in the living room, on the bus, at a desk. It an adaptive console, not a portable one. Any game that can be played like this is going to be a liberating experience, being optimised for how we live and can be played whenever we feel like.

So far, it seems the Nintendo Switch is widely misunderstood, even by game developers, reviewers and gamers alike. This is not surprising because Nintendo attempts to achieve something that no other gaming device has ever tried: gaming anywhere.

The moment everything fell in place for me was when I stopped thinking about Nintendo Switch as a portable console, but as an adaptive console.This explains why it does not become loads more powerful when docked, because that would favour playing on the TV over all the other ways. Nintendo has gone through amazing lengths to let you play together with other Switch owners even without a WiFi network, because it wants gaming everywhere.

A game that is not fun on the TV or playing with others on the same switch is limiting the switch experience and I think we will see a lot of games that are compromised in some way as game developers are getting to grips with the platforms adaptability.

The Switch is a careful balance between offline and online play, individual versus group play, and a study about where gaming can fit in our lives.

 

Nvidia unveils GTX 1060: Faster than a GTX 980 for £220

1080p gamers, would-be VR explorers, and e-sports players who crave hundreds of frames per second look no further: the GTX 1060 is the graphics card to buy.

Looks like the card to get if you're not in the market for an ATI card.

 

Alternative Football Manager

Jack Arnott writes for Eurogamer in the Football Manager 2016 review:

Anything beyond that, though, and, once again, I'm stumped. It won't tell you whether you've lost because you were closing down too much, or too little. Or because your defensive line was too high, or too low. Would Prozone analysis have helped me tame those pesky Shrews? Not without a hireable in-game performance analyst. This is no panacea for those, like me, who crave some FM feedback.

[...]

Despite a couple of neat additions, Football Manager 2016 is an iterative release that's sadly short on big new ideas.

None of this directly applies to this review or the quality of the game but is a bit more generalist rambling on my part -- I feel SI is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It's difficult to make a game that is seen as holding realism above all other values and then see it being criticsed for lack of feedback.

The hypothetical version that sorts this out would be surely used by all real world managers as this gives them the winning formula for winning their own leagues! The marketing of FM being used by real world managers only strangthens this conflicted ideal in my mind.

With all features already in the game the developer might be making enourmous investments now to advance the simulation just that little bit, unable to make great leaps as there is no great leap to make.

I used to think that making Football Manager light was the solution to create a more playable game but as people expect "all of the realism with less options" I don't think that is ever going to work either.

As long as it keeps selling though they would be silly to overhaul it, as it would alienate the existing fanbase.

I'm hoping there will sometime be an approximation of the FM lineage but with fun and passion as the core values under a different name, perhaps with fantasy clubs and players, silly things happening, no numbers and passion for the athmosphere of football.

 

Interrupting ads are as bad in games as they are on websites.<p>#status </p>

 

On The God who Peter Molyneux forgot

Wesley Yin-Pool, writing for Eurogamer:

You will become a digital god, Molyneux proclaims in the video, of 22Cans' next game, Godus. And, you will receive a cut of the money made by Godus from the start of your reign to its end.

18 months later, as Bryan Henderson approaches his 21st birthday, he has yet to become God of Gods, he has yet to receive the "riches" Molyneux promised him, and it's looking increasingly likely he never will.

The core issue with promising such a fantastic reward is that it depends on a future that hasn't materialised:

"But we can't have the God of Gods role without the ability for people to challenge the God of Gods role, and the God of Gods role can't be challenged without combat, and we can't implement the combat without sorting out the server issues, which are being sorted out as of last week. It's just a maelstrom."

It looks to me that the whole team is continually rushed into firefighting the next feature development, with never enough revenue coming in to take a breather and plan things out properly.

He confirms the Godus development team has shrunk considerably to just a few people as resources are diverted to a new game, called The Trail.

Trust me, by the time the server issues are sorted; the combat is implemented; the multiplayer is developed and the God of God feature is finished there will be no players left to make any money from. 22Cans would do better to offer some kind of goodwill gesture to restore the morale of its staff and its fans before this PR opportunity turned completely toxic.

 

 

My Hearthstone Strategy Tips

I’ve been playing Hearthstone, Blizzard’s card game battler, for a month or two now and am enjoying it very much.

Although by the very nature of a collectible card game people that pay money will have access to more cards, it’s currently very possible to win most matches without paying. My philosophy on free games is to pay the developer around as much money as I would have for the game if it was paid, but not more.

That said, if you are looking to play better here are some things I have discovered (I’m not involved in the HS community or read any strategy guides so my advice might be old hat):

Deck naming

I always change the name of my custom decks to the following format: X/Y [Approach of the deck]. X stands for the number of matches won, and Y for the numer of losses. After every couple of matches I rename the deck and update the stats. Example: 15/4 DrawHeal is my popular Priest deck.

Naming your deck this way allows you to keep tabs on if the approach works with the cards in the deck, if your deck is any good ‘in the field’, and it helps you remember your playstyle.

Refine one card at a time

You’re only as good as the hand you draw so before decimating your deck make sure you give it enough plays. One way I like to do this is to play a few matches and find any weaknesses in my deck, then swap one card for a better suited one.

This gives you valuable playing experience with the deck whilst incrementally making it better (hopefully). Should you take out 4 or 5 cards at a time then you might imbalance the deck in another way.

Spread of cards

Unless you have a specific approach you want to try out, try to have cards more or less evenly spread out across the mana spectrum (1-7). This ensures you have the best chance of opportunities at every turn. Nothing is more devastating to have a hand full of cards you cannot play.

Also make sure you have creature cards across the mana spectrum. As you don’t know in what order you’ll draw the cards, it is important that you can go on the defense or attack at any point in the game. Thus you need creatures across all mana levels.

Make a note of what is not working

Why did you lose? Did you end up with a lot of high mana cards in your hands that you couldn’t put into play? Or did you have a lot of low mana and high mana creatures but nothing in the middle ranges? Perhaps you were unable to stop the rushing Hunter because you didn’t have enough area of effect spells (spells that affect all (enemy) creatures)? Or did the right cards not come up, maybe you should draw more cards? Sometimes you’re just unlucky.

Slowly adjusting your deck in this way makes it more flexible to deal with any situation that arises.

Understand the classes

Initially I had a lot of trouble playing the Paladin (even though in World of Warcraft this is my favourite class) because I didn’t understand how to play it. Look at the unique cards the classes have. In this case, my impression is that the paladin tries to preserve and grow their creatures, so using it in a deck with sturdy defensive creatures and then growing them can be a viable approach.

You can’t play any approach with any class. Although combining cards to allow a certain approach is a risky but fun experience.

Be courteous

A game is only as fun as its players. So be kind and say hello, and compliment a player on a impressive play.

Personally, I do not like to admit my mistakes during the match because the opponent might not know that I made a mistake.

I’m sure you have your own tips and hints so any feedback is welcome via twitter.

 

Windows 8 a catastrophe for Games?

Interesting article by Tom Phillips interviewing developers about Windows 8 and it's closed Windows Store, with this gem of a quote from Introversions' Chris Delay:

"I really don't want to see the PC becoming a closed platform. Microsoft is not a company that's able to benignly oversee that process. They will f*** it up. We'll all be doing Kinect support and 16 language versions, we'll all be supporting a Microsoft Office plug-in. It's my own worst nightmare.

[...] “The PC continues to be as relevant as it was ten years ago, despite consoles coming and going, because it is an open platform. If that changed it would be terrible.”

It's interesting times for the gaming industry, indeed.

 

Carbon Powershell support is here!

I have been working with Carbon over the last weeks and one thing I noticed was that having to navigate through the admin menu repeatedly was getting a bit long in the tooth. Sure, for the occasional admin task it's useful to have the admin close to the site itself.

After adding deployment through powershell it became clear that switching between admin and commandline is not ideal either. So I decided to implement all administration throughu the powershell script.

With 0.2.3 you can add the following parameters to the script:

  • login: login to admin
  • draft: create draft
  • generate: generate static site
  • deploy: deploy to live
  • clear_cache: empty cache

The script will also tell you the correct syntax if you get it wrong. Happy carbonating!

 

Silicon Knights: "used games are cannibalising the industry"

Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack talks about used games effect on development budgets:

"I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets. Some games can, don't get me wrong - for a game like Call of Duty, if they had a $100 million budget, or whatever their budget is, they can afford it. That's not the industry, that's sort of a one-off.

Perhaps there is a point after which it makes little sense to spend more money as you simply cannot recoup it in the market. I'm guessing this limit is probably closer to $0 than $300 million.

source Gamesindustry International.

 

Project Cars

Sign up to WMD, the somewhat unfortunate acronym chosen for Slightly Mad's World of Mass Development platform, and you're granted access to regularly released builds of the game, which you're then free to pick apart in the official forums. That feedback then gets absorbed by Slightly Mad Studios, a simple loop that means that, when the game is eventually released, it'll be as much a product of the community as it is of the studio.

via Project Cars Preview • Eurogamer.net.

Looks like an interesting development strategy, made famous by Minecraft.