The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display presently designed to give a full, immersive 3D experience to games that support it on PC. This year, PAX Prime played host to the Rift’s manufacturers, Oculus VR, to demo the product to showgoers. The demand to see the Rift was unreal as lines were seemingly capped the moment the show floor doors open each day, for the entire day. After managing a place in line to wait and see this hyped piece of technology, other showgoers leaving their demonstration express their satisfaction with the device, pushing the hype up even further. It starts to feel like maybe the folks done with the rift are just riding the Expo high that comes with seeing and experiencing new technology before anyone else gets a stab at it.
But then my patience paid off. I was nervous at first, putting the headset on. There was so much hype and buzz even in the line itself; would the Rift live up to the hype? It was the moment of truth.
Personal experience? The Rift is incredible. I could hardly believe what I was seeing because it felt like I was in an entirely different place; the display itself lacked the normal immersion detractors that pull the user away from the experience, like seeing the edge of the screens, or having the overlap that normal 3D displays suffer from creating a duplicate image in your field of view. It felt like I was seeing through the eyes of another. I was instantly sold.
The display itself differs pretty wildly from kind of 3D most consumers and gamers understand, as the 3D used in displays, theaters, and even the Nintendo 3DS uses a form of trickery to accomplish its effect. The two separate images are displayed (usually interlaced) at alternate angles to deceive your eyes into thinking they’re seeing separate images, creating the 3D effect. The Rift actually displays two entirely separate viewpoint images, in separated viewing regions, giving each eye an entirely different and uncompromised field of view. This can create an unparalleled level of immersion for the user, giving the sensation of placing the user into the game, virtually.
As far as VR headsets go, this is a fairly standard order of business. What ISN’T business as usual though, is the size of the viewing region for each eye and the ultra low-latency head tracking the device is capable of. To put things into perspective, go to a Best Buy, or any electronics shop where they have a Kinect sensor set up, assuming you don’t own one of these fine pieces of technology for yourself. Play any of the trials set up at the demo and take note of the delay between the on screen interaction and your movement. Now imagine that delay almost completely eliminated. This is what the Rift offers that really sets it apart. That and price, as in actually being more in the realm of gamer and consumer affordability.
Presently, the number of games supported by the Rift are small, but growing; Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2 were the first two to offer full support, but a larger list of titles that do (or will) support the Rift can be found here. A number of studio heads and big names have come out endorsing the rift, including the co-founder of id Games, John Carmack, and with good reason to. Couple the Rift with another fledgling product, the Virtuix Omni, and you create an environment that feels familiar but wildly exciting in a new way because there are even less barriers between the user and the worlds they love.
At 1PM EST your iPhone/ iPad was able to download and install the most advanced mobile phone operating system available on the market today**.
*New Maps with Free voice GPS
*Improved Siri with more sports knowledge
*Email updates with VIP mailbox
*Passbook wallet with awesome shredder animation
*Safari iCloud tabs
*many many more updates
*Still does not have tilt to zoom.
iPhone 5 goes on sale this Friday, Sep 21.
E3 is the most exciting time of the year for gaming. It’s when we get to find out what developers and console makers have been hiding away for the rest of the year. In some cases, it’s when we find out what is coming out in three, or even more, years time (I’m looking at you Square Enix). Perhaps the only thing more exciting than E3 is predictions for E3, so without further ado here are my hopes and predictions for what will be announced next week.
Playstation Vita Huge Exclusive and Price Drop
Sony will certainly want to focus on the Playstation Vita in order to turn around its fairly lackluster launch. I predict that Sony will start off the Vita portion of their show with a blockbuster third party exclusive for the Vita; something that will make people say, “WOW!” They will follow this with a barrage of first and third party games that will, for the most part, be released before the end of the year and therefore providing the Vita with a strong lineup that will boost sales come Christmas. Sony will also end their show with a new Vita bundle and/or price drop for the handheld, including new color variations of the handheld being announced.
Likelihood of happening: 80%
Mirror’s Edge 2
In 2008, we got a unique, new concept for a game in the form of Mirror’s Edge. It could be considered one of the best games of this generation; I for one play it at least once a year. Yet, for some reason a sequel has never been released. Perhaps EA wants Dice to focus on Battlefield because it is a guaranteed juggernaut and Mirror’s Edge only sold 2 million copies. There has however been hope for a sequel recently. In early 2011, work on Mirror’s Edge 2 stopped because it wasn’t considered good enough. At least that is confirmation that it was being made. Then at E3 2011, the President of EA, Frank Gibeau, stated that EA were looking for a way to bring Mirror’s Edge back. It has been a year since then. I predict that we will see a formal announcement along with a trailer for Mirror’s Edge 2, although it won’t release this year.
Likelihood of happening: 60%
Metal Gear Solid 5
Hideo Kojima walks on stage at the Sony show and announces Metal Gear Solid 5 exclusive to the PS3, the game runs on Konami’s new Fox engine. For those who may have forgotten the Fox Engine was announced by Kojima this time last year and he stated that a new multi platform game was in the works and being built using the new engine. He also stated that the new transfarring system would be featured in the unannounced game. Kojima showed the path for Transfarring, starting with PS3 to PSP (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker) and then to PS2 games on the PS3 and Vita (Metal Gear Solid HD Collection) with his ultimate goal being a genuine PS3 game on both the PS3 and Vita. Roll forward to E3 2012 and Hideo Kojima is showing off Metal Gear Solid 5 for the PS3. This unannounced game is multi platform, though, right? Kojima pulls a Vita out of his pocket that has the game running on it and reveals that the game will launch simultaneously on Vita and PS3, there will also be a Ps3 and Vita game bundle for those that want to buy both versions.
Likelihood of happening: 40%
Microsoft will unveil the successor to the Xbox 360 in some capacity. Shocked by Nintendo’s announcement of the Wii U at last year’s E3, Microsoft will want to make sure they aren’t left on the back foot for too long. Microsoft benefitted immensely from being the first next gen console to release in 2005 and Microsoft will want to make sure that they aren’t forgotten about when the Wii U releases later this year. It is more likely that the next console will receive a small nod of existence at the end of Microsoft’s show rather than a full reveal but a full reveal would certainly see Microsoft steal the show, particularly from the Wii U.
Likelihood of happening: 10%
Mother 3 3DS Remake
Nintendo have been showing that they want to cater to hardcore gamers more and more since the price drop of the 3DS. It started with Monster Hunter on the 3DS in Japan and most recently Xenoblade Chronicles has seen a release in North America. So what could Nintendo do next to make sure that hardcore gamers stick by them in the run up to the launch of the Wii U? How about a remake of Mother 3 for the 3DS to be released worldwide this year. Perhaps they could even announce that Mother 4 is in the works for the Wii U as well. This may seem completely outlandish but it has happened before. The first Phoenix Wright game was only released in Japan in 2001 but Nintendo remade it for the DS and released it worldwide in 2005. Could a similar thing happen to the Mother series?
Likelihood of happening: 0.5%
What do you think about my predictions for E3? Which do you think are most likely and unlikely to happen? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out the predictions during the rest of the week.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I really loved the idea of a digital future. The concept of having everything at my fingertips without having to worry about a disc drive failing or scratching my discs is, in my mind, the future. It still amazes me that I have literally hundreds of games on my PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and even my phone and will never have to put a disc in a tray to play them.
Yet, despite all of my anticipation for never needing another disc again, I’m scared like crazy of this all-digital future. Recent occurrences give me absolutely no hope for this future, despite how awesome it could all be. We’ve seen publishers charge for content that should be ours to begin with, we’ve seen massive hacking and loss of personal data and even had the odd scare that games will simply stop working. This future frightens me to my very core.
Lets start with the two most recent things that have driven me to be terrified of this future.Very recently, Rock Band iOS users were terrified that their version of the game would simply stop working. They had a message sent to them saying that the game would no longer work after May. After a lot of outrage, EA formally announced that it was an error and that the game would continue to work.
That is good, but this situation has highlighted a somewhat big issue within the gaming world. EULA’s have almost completely relinquished control of a video game that you have purchased to the publisher. Games can simply stop working, or more commonly, you can pay money for a game and not have access to everything that you paid for.
Capcom has recently been making a mess of things by charging for unlock codes for content that is already on a disc. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record and Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City both have “downloadable content” that is on the disc. Not only is it disingenuous to call content that is on a disc “downloadable,” but it’s also a pretty bad business practice to make customers pay even more for content that is on a disc.
Cliff Bleszinksi has recently called on-disc DLC an “unfortunate reality.”
“And often for compatibility issues, [on] day one, some of that content does need to be on-disc. It’s an ugly truth of the gaming industry. I’m not the biggest fan of having to do it, but it is one of the unfortunate realities.”
Call me a cynical idiot but this is one of the biggest cop-outs I’ve ever seen in my life. Perhaps the issue would go away if, I don’t know, you included this DLC in the main game. The thing is I like the concept of DLC. If I can add in some more play time to my game after I’ve played through it, that’s kind of awesome. What’s not awesome is the fact that I can buy a game and have a sizable portion locked out because a publisher feels I should pay more.
Again, this wasn’t an issue ten years ago. Yes, there were expansions but these almost always were worthwhile. It wasn’t as though a basic set of features was being locked out to us. This problem didn’t exist before the advent of high speed internet and it shouldn’t exist now.
If developers want to nickel and dime users, there is actually a decent solution: enter the free to play market. I actually have very little issue with a developer charging money for a stupid hat or some new mode in a game that is free to play, since no investment was made up front. As more and more free-to-play games emerge, it will actually be beneficial for these companies to enter into these markets. Just so long as you don’t make a $60 investment at the front, this practice seems way less shady.
This isn’t the only reason that I fear the digital future though it is a good one. Personally, I’ve had multiple accounts across various platforms stolen. My Battle.net account was hacked and my World of Warcraft account is banned as a result of another player stealing and abusing my account. It’s taken hours of calls just to get my Battle.Net account back and I’m sure it will take even more to get my World of Warcraft account back.
Thankfully, though, in both of those cases, much of my personal data wasn’t stolen. I can’t say that for when my Xbox Live account was stolen, however. One morning, I awoke to find that a hundred dollars had been charged through my PayPal account. I instantly locked my bank account, contacted PayPal and began investigating. It turned out that someone had, in the middle of the night, stolen my Xbox Live account and bought over a hundred dollars worth of content, including Lucha Fury. As if it wasn’t bad enough that they stole my money, they also stole it for a really bad game.
It was an extremely stressful month after. I was calling Microsoft on a weekly basis, sometimes having my own identity questioned. By the time everything was settled, it had taken well over a month. I wasn’t out any money, but the stress of that situation was insane.
We all remember last year when the PlayStation Network was hacked. Anyone who had an account was worried that their personal data was in trouble. Sure, Sony offered a year’s worth of identity protection and a few free games as compensation, but it was hardly enough to make up for the stress that many suffered as a result. It made us all aware that all of our information could easily be stolen. After all of this, I immediately changed all of my passwords in some vain hope that it might help.
However, a lot of security doesn’t require complex hacking to get around. All that someone needs to do is figure out a way to mine your personal information. For instance, if someone wants to get into your email, they can simply say that they forgot the password. After digging a bit through websites like Facebook and others, they can gather enough information to answer your security questions. It’s a frighteningly simple process and we should be far more concerned about it.
Thankfully, some companies are getting wise. With my Gmail account, if you are logging into my account for the first time on a new computer, a text is sent to my phone with a security code. Steam offers Steam Guard, which offers a similar service.
These kinds of services are going to be needed in the next few years as we’ve seen plenty of high level hacking problems occur. If someone were to try to get into my Xbox Live account and fail, I want Microsoft to send me a text message with a security code. If a new IP address tries to log into my PlayStation Network account, I want an email sent telling me that it’s happening. As it stands, there are very few resources for gamers on consoles to protect themselves. There are no offensive measures being taken. Generally, you have to wait until you know your account has been stolen until you can actually do anything.
Again, the concept of having everything easily available to you should be really amazing. We shouldn’t have to worry about these concepts, but since we do we need more safeguards for the consumer. You shouldn’t simply lose access to everything because of an EULA and you shouldn’t have to worry about having hundreds of dollars stolen from you because you have information on Facebook. Now, we just need to make sure that video game companies understand this.
Let’s focus our collective attention on Xbox as a brand. By now you should have realized that Xbox Live is the actual vehicle driving Microsoft’s console on the road to success. Yes, there have been some speed bumps (down time), wrecks (RRoD) and other unforeseen problems but overall Microsoft’s version of the Pep Boys; Major, e and Stepto (Yes, I know he quit) have kept the wheels spinning rather nicely. So before you trade in or sell your proverbial car for a newer model, give me the opportunity to argue for having two consoles co-exist on Xbox Live at the same time. The current gen Xbox 360 and the unannounced Xbox Metro (that’s what I’m calling it).
I believe it is in Microsoft’s best interest to have both the 360 and the new console co-exist on the Xbox Live service. Not only do you not lose the millions of users out there now, you will also gain an easy 3 million new consoles upon launch. The biggest problem MS will face is that original 360 owners will automatically have 2 consoles on their Live account so they won’t be able to charge them more, unless they raise the price for Xbox Live?
It’s a rather swell idea, here are more than a few reasons why you should jump in.
The number one thing that gamers usually want with their brand spanking new console is something old, backwards compatibility. I’m speaking in general terms here, because I know some of you will say that’s the last thing you want with a new system. Running both the 360 and the new console simultaneously on Xbox Live solves the problem of developing backwards compatibility for the new console. You can play all your 360 titles and MS doesn’t have to worry about the transferring of licenses to the new system. Everything just works.
Cross console gaming would be cool, as well. Imagine playing Halo 4 single player on the new console, it looks really nice and runs super smooth. You jump into a multi-player match and your still able to play with friends that haven’t upgraded to the new system. In fact, they can tell you’re on the new system because your gamer card says so. You jump into a private match and begin to run your smack because they are playing on the old 360. Your multi-player experience will be top-notch for your system and their experience will be top-notch for the 360.
Keeping your gamerscore is also very important. My gamerscore as of right now sits at 226351 and I would really hate to start over. Using Xbox Live as the bridge between consoles will allow users to keep their score. I didn’t play Bullet Witch for the awesome gameplay, I played it for the achievements. I know a lot of you don’t play strictly for achievements but you would be lying to yourself if you said they didn’t matter.
Truth is you don’t even need to have both consoles, as long as you have the new system all your content should run on it. The important thing is that the 360 will still be able to run on Xbox Live until the user has a chance or is given a reason to want to upgrade to the new system. Here are a few reasons for that.
I really do believe that the next MS system will be everything you have read here and more. If not then I will seriously second guess a day one purchase. As a consumer and a business the examples I have given make perfect sense. I think MS would be stupid not to copy and paste this editorial right on the desk of the guy making the next system happen. I mean how else are they gonna justify raising the price of an Xbox Live Gold subscription?