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The Facebook Rift

News broke today that Facebook intends to buy Oculus VR in a deal that totals over $2 billion in cash and stock. The Internet recoiled in horror.

Now, the collective communities on the internet are not known for their level headed restraint, and there are plenty of reasons why this would make sense for Oculus to make the deal, primarily revolving around resources. Money is maybe the most obvious resource that the Oculus team gets out of this, not just in payouts for their team, but money that means that a serious product can be made beyond the development kits. It takes serious cash and commitments to get the attention of the big manufacturers needed to make this a mass market product. Possibly even more important than cash, It gets them access to Facebook’s significant talent pool, and their impressive recruiting ability. Right now Oculus would be really boosted by more grade-A engineering talent, helping them iterate over all the tough bits to make the experience of  using the Rift compelling and natural feeling.

That being said, I’m kinda with the Internet, I’m not thrilled.

Getting beyond the shocked reaction GIFs, I think my thoughts are ones that resonate with a lot of people:

  1. Facebook is first and foremost an ad platform, and your data and access to you are their primary product. This, in and of itself, is not reason to label Facebook as a nefarious entity, but the more data and uses get entangled with Facebook the harder it becomes to disengage yourself if they become a company you would rather not do business with.
  2. Facebook is not a games company, they are a social platform, and while one could argue that they are a big platform for games as well, I would argue that their presence in gaming has been at best mixed, ushering in the age of “free to play” games with microtransactions. Many 3rd party games on the platform are more centered around quick cash grabs then the immersive experiences that VR promises, making for a potentially odd fit between the two companies
  3. Many potentially great things go away once they get absorbed by big companies. We have seen it time and again, a great startup gets bought, and the product goes away, slowly dies on the vine, or takes a less interesting tact. While Mark Zuckerberg expressed enthusiasm and the company said that development of the Oculus Rift will continue in a press release, what this means for its potential in the gaming market is cloudy.

I’ll try to remain positive, and where I was skeptical before if Oculus VR could really change the gaming world, I am still skeptical but now for an entirely different set of reasons. Facebook could prove to be a good thing for the space, and even if, like Minecraft’s Notch, it becomes easier to cut ties and move on, there is the starts of competition in the space, and hopefully enough noise is now being made that we will see some positive steps in this new frontier.

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Hour One: Remember Me

I love the sci-fi genre. But I do get tired of space marines, futures that are a horrible wasteland, and every game being a shooter. So when I saw the first trailers for Remember Me, I was excited. A future that’s dystopian without being a wasteland. A main character that wasn’t some kind of special forces operative, and it appeared to have no gunplay. It looked refreshing.

So I bought Remember Me without reading reviews, based solely on the fact that I liked the premise, I liked the early trailer I saw, and it seemed like a cool new IP. Now that I’ve put an hour in, am I happy with the memories I’ve made so far?

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Review: Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel

Army of Two games aren’t known for their incredible attention to detail, high end graphics, or brain exploding plot and character development. But they are fun, particularly with a co-op partner, in my case, Carl.

We have played through the campaign on medium difficulty, opting for a quicker play through with minimal frustration like we have experienced in the previous games. The familiar Army of Two details are there; character customization both aesthetics and with your choice of weaponry. One odd thing though… When first loading up the game you have an option of installing “high definition textures”, at the cost of 1.5GB of hard drive space. I have never seen this on an Xbox 360 game, but I did this without much thought, so did Carl.

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Sony Playstation E3 Press Conference 2013

In a day full of keynotes, Sony had the last word today with their evening E3 press conference. Sony trotted out a parade of executives and developers to show off the games on the horizon for the upcoming year. The Playstation 3, and Vita made a cameo, but the real star of the show was the Playstation 4. Does it match up to our grand expectations, and can it keep the heat up when it comes to its chief rival Microsoft? Well with the Help of Scott and Carl, lets find out.

Scott Heinowski: Sony started the day today by reminding us that the Vita and the PS3 were still kicking, but they did not spend much time on them at all, barely even mentioning the Vita. I thought this a bit odd for a moment, but I think they realized that people weren’t really there to see the vita. I know I was not that interested in seeing Vita titles, but as a Vita owner did it bug you that they didn’t have anything to announce for that platform?

Carl Kloster: Yeah. I know PS4 was the star of this show, but Vita seems to be a great companion to the PS4 and I thought that would get it a little more spotlight time. I was hoping for the announcement of a new Uncharted or Assassins Creed for Vita. But really I just got short trailers of a few Vita games, and then told that HD re-releases would come to Vita at some point. It wasn’t anything to really thrill me as a Vita owner, and thats not going to entice many people to pick up a Vita as well. Continue reading

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Microsoft Xbox E3 Media Briefing.

Today, Microsoft held their E3 Media Conference to discuss Xbox 360, and Xbox One. OVer the course of two hours we were shown many upcoming titles, mostly for the Xbox One. They didn’t talk much of the Xbox One features, since they covered a lot of the media features when the did the console reveal a few weeks ago. But they also didn’t try and clarify the used games, always online, kinect watching you things that people have been getting riled up over on the internet lately.

Today I’m joined by Brandon (who will be typing in wonderful BLUE) to help sort through and get some thoughts on what Microsoft presented to us today.

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Can The OUYA spark a revolution?

The OUYA was introduced to us last year with a fair amount of bombast and energy. Julie Uhrman was front and central in their Kickstarter video proclaiming that she wanted to reinvigorate the gaming market for independent developer, steer them away from just developing on the mobile platform. She laid out the plans with gusto, promised to take on the established players in the market, in short they promised a revolution. People wanted to believe, and they put their money where their mouth is, to the tune of about 8.6 million dollars.

Now its time to check the Ouya’s pudding for some proof. They’ve been shipping for a bit now and I finally got my hands on my console that I ordered about 9 months previous. how does it stack up? Continue reading

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Hour One: Assassins Creed III

Coming off of the Vita Assassins Creed III: Liberation, I felt like I should finally jump into the real deal. Liberation wasn’t amazing, and I felt the story telling was sub par. I’m hoping by returning to the main entry in the franchise I can have a well crafted, well told story.

The previews for Assassins Creed III are what got me playing the franchise. I thought the setting of the Revolutionary War sounded really cool. My wife joked that I’d be hanging out with Ben Franklin in the game, and you do run into him early on! Plus you know, I’m from America so the idea of playing in a colonial New England area seemed really enticing.

So last night I put the disc in, downloaded the necessary updates (thanks modern gaming), and jumped back in the Animus with Desmond Miles.

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Assassins Creed III: Liberation – Review

I’m going to keep this review kind of short, as a lot of my Hour One impressions of the game held through to the end.

Assassins Creed III: Liberation for the Playstation Vita is both a wonder, and a slog. Not many games let you wrestle an alligator to steal it’s eggs. But while that’s pretty awesome and the fact that parts of Liberation reminded me of the excellent Uncharted: Golden Abyss, while others weren’t memorable at all.

Funny, since the Assassins Creed games are about going into your genetic memory.

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Pixelnauts Podcast: Vintage Game Hardware

We discuss old game hardware keeping it running and how games age & game preservation.

We talked about:

Note This episode was recorded prior to the Xbox announcement.

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“Xbox One” Announced

Carl Kloster: Scott and I wanted to do a podcast after the Microsoft Xbox One announcement yesterday like we did for Sony’s Playstation 4 announcement before.

But Scott’s in Portland, Oregon at DrupalCon for work so we couldn’t align our schedules to get it done. So I’m going to write my thoughts down and then get his response as well and we’ll pretend we’re doing an old school text adventure of a podcast.

Scott Heinowski: So Hold on to yonder hats and lets “> Examine Xbox one.”

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