Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V launched last night on Steam and today on consoles. This is supposedly the final Metal Gear Solid game from Hideo Kojima after some discord internally at Konami who have basically done everything they can to get out of the console game business choosing instead to focus on pachinko and mobile games. The only other big game coming out of Konami after Metal Gear is soccer.

MGS V’s Windows version was to be released a few weeks after the console versions but it shipped on-time and looks great. Reviews are overall extremely positive and the PC Gamer report on the technical aspects of the Windows version is positive. The game runs very well on my machine, and the only real technical disappointment that PC Gamer failed to mention is that the companion app for tablets and phones, iDroid, will only link with the console versions of MGS V.

I stayed up until 2AM playing last night after it unlocked around 9PM Pacific. MGS 5 is just that good.

Playstation 4 OS 3.00

John Koller on the Playstation Blog has some of the improvements coming to the Playstation 4‘s operating system. In addition to YouTube’s new streaming service we’re finally getting an increase in storage space for cloud saves:

PS4 online storage capacity has increased from 1GB to 10GB for all PS Plus members. In 3.00 system software, you’ll see that we added a handy usage meter to monitor your available storage capacity, and a new Auto-Upload menu has been added to Application Saved Data Management.

The 1 gigabyte limit was ridiculously small. Microsoft has no storage limit with their cloud save service on the Xbox and while it did require a subscription for the service on Xbox 360 that requirement went away with the Xbox One.

Gamestop the Alien

 

Alien

Matt Matthews:

I’ll admit, watching GameStop is a spectator sport for me. Despite all the negativity directed their way, consumers continue to buy at GameStop’s stores and partake of the pre-owned product pipeline that fills the company’s coffers. Pure digital consumers (like myself) have become a significant part of the video game industry, and yet the brick-and-mortar bruiser continues to flourish.

I’m reminded of Ash’s words about the creature in Alien (1979): “I admire its purity. A survivor — unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

YouTube’s Upcoming Paywall

Micah Singleton writing about the changes:

The way you experience YouTube may be dramatically different before the end of the year. According to multiple sources, the world’s largest video-sharing site is preparing to launch its two separate subscription services before the end of 2015 — Music Key, which has been in beta since last November, and another unnamed service targeting YouTube’s premium content creators, which will come with a paywall. Taken together, YouTube will be a mix of free, ad-supported content and premium videos that sit behind a paywall.

How much do I have to pay YouTube to prevent copyright trollbots from destroying the service?

Satellite Reign

Satellite Reign was released last week on Steam for Linux, Mac, and Windows, it looks like everything I loved in the original Syndicate:

Satellite Reign is a real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open-world cyberpunk city. You command a group of 4 agents through rain-soaked, neon-lit streets, where the law is the will of mega-corporations. Use your agents to sneak, shoot, steal, and sabotage your way up the corporate ladder, and take control of the most powerful monopoly of all time.

Each of your agents can be tailored toward your favoured play-style, while still maintaining their own unique specialisations. Shape your team into an offensive war machine, or an elite covert spec-ops outfit, and take the open-world city as your own.

The MGS5 Windows Disc is Just an 8 MB Steam Installer

Daniel Perez:

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is releasing this week on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. But it appears PC gamers are getting the short end of the stick as its physical retail version only has a Steam installer burned onto the Blu-ray disc.

Twitter users graphure tweeted out their findings yesterday that shows the Blu-ray disc containing nothing more than a Steam installer weighing in at 8.78 MB. This means those who were hoping to have the game fully installed shortly after they pop in their retail disc will have to wait to download all 28 gigs.

Or for other games, maybe just a paper card with a Steam key on it:

New Nintendo 3DS XL Bundles

Ozzie Mejia:

The Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer bundle will feature an Isabelle-designed (and more compact!) New Nintendo 3DS. It’ll also feature two cover plates, an Amiibo card, and a copy of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. This bundle is set to release on September 25 for $219.99.

Those that are willing to wait a few extra weeks can also choose from a new Hyrule Edition New Ninteno 3DS XL. This gold-colored handheld with a Hylian Crest on the front will come with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. It will retail for $199.99 and release on October 23. This, however, will be a GameStop exclusive.

From the videos I’m still not sure what Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer even is, but it’s good that the smaller New Nintendo 3DS will finally be in the U.S.

Get Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones for Free

Stealth Inc 2

The Windows-only Stealth Inc 2 is available temporarily for free from the Humble Store.

In Stealth Inc 2, you play the role of a clone escaping a sinister and high-tech testing facility. Stealth Inc 2 tests both your brain and your reflexes over 60 varied levels linked together in a sprawling overworld.

Death is never more than a few moments away, but one of the few advantages of being a clone is that death isn’t all that permanent. With no loading screens and no lives to worry about, players are encouraged to use their inevitable demise as a learning tool as they navigate lasers, homicidal robots and terrifying bosses in the ultimate hostile work environment

You’ll get a DRM-free copy of the game via the Humble Store and a Steam key all for the price of nothing until the 31st of August.

YouTube Gaming

YouTube’s Twitch-competitor, YouTube Gaming, launched yesterday as an app on mobile devices and as a website. There are three major improvements that the announcement touts:

  • YouTube Gaming is your go-to destination for anything and everything gaming because it automatically pulls in all gaming-related videos and live streams from YouTube.
  • Viewers get personalized gaming recommendations based on the games and channels they collect. With over 25,000 game pages and even more gaming channels, it’s never been easier to connect with your gaming community.
  • We’ve also made it easier to create a live stream — check out the beta version of our new way to go live at youtube.com/stream today.

Lets talk about them in reverse order, starting with the streaming improvements.

If you wanted to stream to YouTube before, you had to manually schedule a start time and end time as an upcoming event. Scheduling didn’t suit the unplanned streams that are typical of Twitch and other game streaming sites. There’s a new dashboard for streamers as well that is a definite improvement over the Twitch dashboard because it seems like someone at YouTube actually put some thought into the design and what information streamers want to see when they’re streaming. Large text lets you know the health of your stream’s quality, how many people are watching, and how long you’ve been streaming for.

When you’re finished streaming, the stream will be archived by YouTube and begin processing immediately. Twitch only saves your videos temporarily and waits a short time for you to create highlight reels from them with a YouTube export option. For people who don’t have storage space or the upload bandwidth and time to dedicate to editing and re-uploading a local copy of their recorded stream this could be a great improvement. 

Of course there are the typical launch-day issues.

Yesterday, when I first attempted to stream Black Ops 3 to YouTube Gaming from Open Broadcaster Software, the new live video dashboard said that my stream was fine but all viewers saw was a blank “offline” message. Later in the day the issue cleared up and streaming worked.

Overall, the front-end for viewers on YouTube Gaming is redundant when all of the same content is available through YouTube proper. Scrolling through the homepage can best be described as an experience in wondering how a website from a major technology company in 2015 with so many resources can perform so poorly and slow your browser down so much if the new site loads at all. Today when I browse to gaming.youtube.com in Chrome I get a 404 page. Now we’re into launch week issues.

When it does load, YouTube Gaming’s front-end is fine and replaces the most common textual searching for live and archived game videos that users do with graphical box art of games to follow and click on to find what they’re looking for. The carousel of the most popular live video streams at the top of the page is a major improvement over the similar feature on Twitch’s front page. Twitch’s front-door carousel immediately starts loudly defiling your speakers or headphones even if you’re just momentarily browsing the front page while looking for something else or logging into the site. YouTube is nice enough to mute the audio.

The duplicated content just makes me think Google is getting ready for when, like other Google products have done after 6 months to a year, YouTube Gaming goes kaput and reintegrates with YouTube. This is a product that doesn’t need to exist. It is a sub-brand of a sub-brand of a product at a company that was fine without a gaming-specific site. At a time when the major improvement YouTube needs is a reduction in automated copyright notices that deny gaming video creators the ability to monetize their work on that platform YouTube is instead focused on recapturing a group of live streamers that long ago departed for the more live stream friendly waters at Twitch.

Competition for Twitch is good, but in order for a site to compete with Twitch effectively it needs to be useful from day one. YouTube Gaming is not quite there yet.

The Jig is Up

Brianna Wu & Zoe Quinn were interviewed by MTV’s Shaunna Murphy recently, a year after the GamerGate bullshit kicked off:

Wu: When I got dragged into Gamergate it felt like there were people that actually believed, “It’s about ethics in game journalism.” What I [later] saw was people stopped believing that. They understood it was about harassment of women. When you go over to Gamergate headquarters, you can look at what they’re saying, and now I think they’re a lot more honest that this is about harassing feminists. I think they know the jig is up. And I certainly think the press knows the jig is up.

The bullshit cover story about ethics is, thankfully, gone, now we’re just left with the shamelessly hateful who still think that women shouldn’t be treated equally and have equal representation in games and games press. No critique of the status-quo will ever be acceptable. 

The most personally disappointing part of GamerGate for me has been the people I used to respect who bought into GG or have even just been emboldened by the backwards thinking that it represents. Over the past year die-hard racists, misogynists, and homophobes who were once only privately terrible have been publicly hateful and will do whatever they can to defend their attitudes because there is no question in their mind about the inferiority of anyone who commits the crime of being different from birth or by choice. To the hateful, compassion is censorship, feelings are lies, opinions have no place in journalism, and any hint that they should stop being terrible is cause to throw a tantrum or leave when it doesn’t work and they don’t get their way.