Insomnia61 #i61

After 5 EGX’s and 2 Rezzed(‘s?) I thought I was getting the hang of exhibition events. It’s a little like another dimension, where everyone around you is pretty damn awesome and everything to buy is pretty damn awesome and everyone you talk to….etc etc. Like a music festival, everyone singing along and strangers coming over to talk (that’s normal in this dimension by the way, not in the real world) so do the bodies around you, with their different tastes of genre and their own lyrics to shout. This was different from my other experience though; not only because of my first time to Insomnia, but as an “exhibitor”.

DSC_0213

About two years ago I made the life decision of journeying into the industry as a career rather than continue as a fanatic observer. Kim, now writing for laterlevels.com, allowed me into her world of article creation and was my first introduction to SpecialEffect as she was a volunteer. After speaking with the volunteers who were at this years’ Rezzed, I had the opportunity to support a really worthwhile cause that I related to and it was incredible to see the support from all the attendees as they walked by and played the demos we had on offer; chin-controlled Overcooked and eye-controlled Forza. If you’re going to an upcoming event, have a go yourself as both are pretty addictive but show how even those with some of the most difficult of disabilities can still access gaming through the charity.

IMG_20170826_204910
The NOWTV Esports Awards team competed against each other on Forza

If you haven’t been before, the exhibition side of the event has been a fairly recent addition. Insomnia originally (and still does!) includes the opportunity to set up camp inside and bring your own PC (or rent a decent one) for the whole Bank Holiday weekend to play games sitting next to friends and family while meeting loads of other like-minded people. Growing up in the generation where that was the ONLY way to play together whether that was LAN connecting some XBOX’s or running Unreal Tournament over a local network (we did that at school once) it was a communal thing and something I still do to this day, albeit very rarely. There’s something about gaming with a friend who’s right next to you which makes the experience completely different, with maybe a little nostalgia for good measure.

byoc-gallery-3
Stock photo possibly from a previous event, but just shows the extensiveness of the LAN arena!

The 5 hour trek home on the Sunday certainly stoked the fires. It felt like “home” where I could completely be myself; a rarity at times with work and family. People I hope to meet again the wonderfully polite guys over at X-ROCKER CHAIRS who donated one to the charity – they’re super comfy by the way #proudowner – the ESports awards team who popped over to say hi a few times throughout the event and HUGS.TF who returned a flag! Below sums up the feeling a bit and shows the good vibes that SpecialEffect bring out of people. It’s proof that gaming is social, it’s an open and welcoming community and I’m gonna be back with a vengeance!

IMG_20170826_205052

Advertisements

SEE, I’m still around!

On the “Other Stuff” tab, there’s a document or two in regards to some of the study I’m doing around work. Learning more about Social Media for business and marketing as well as film production too.

In terms of ACTUAL gaming stuff, I attended EGX Rezzed this year with a focus of making some new contacts, finding more industry info and spending most of my time in the UKIE Careers Bar chatting to people in the industry and listening to so inspiring speakers. Something I’ll do a write up on methinks!

Looking ahead, I’ll be at Insomnia61 this year, a first for the event for me being up the other end of the country. I’ll be arriving on Friday, working with SpecialEffect on the Saturday and free Sunday before beaming back home that evening. I’ll also be getting my stream back on a regular schedule too – so he says!

Connect, chat and enjoy.

Don’t worry…

…I haven’t lost it! Simply adding some old writings to the site so it’s all collated in one place. *yawn* should have warned it wouldn’t be particularly exciting!

But what it does mean is the next chapter, a new chapter, a completely different kind of chapter. Pushing forward, upskilling, creating opportunities for other opportunities so that “break” is created.

So, Don’t worry. I’m here, I’m back, I’m a little changed but certainly different – welcoming change by making change.

Indie: Lost Ember

Lost-Ember-126558

Let’s face it, the majority of current games that are out now or soon-to-be released have some sort of killing or violence in it. The beauty and power of being pulled into the digital worlds of current-gen releases plays a big part in what makes them successful, making you feel as though you are truly playing the character portrayed in the story or, at least to certain degree, role-playing your multiplayer character to a certain persona. It may also be a little more of personal opinion here too, yet that special time we have with games seems to be even more inundated with options that have greater importance on making it seem “real” or more realistic, rather than the more fantasy and magical that gripped the minds of many gamers old and new.

LostEmber_Screenshot_26_c-1080x608

Lost Ember draws you in immediately with its creative and colourful world as you follow the main character (so to speak), a wolf with the ability to control any other animal you come across. Your quest, to find out what happened to a fallen civilisation long gone by exploring the landscapes and ruins left behind.

Dark secrets pave the way to the fall of Machu Kila! The old capitol and hometown of the Inrahsi now lays in ashes, the ruins of the once pompous temples are overgrown by shrubs and trees and nothing remains of the old majesty.

Figure out what happened to the people of Machu Kila and get to know the characters behind its fall.

Well, if a civilisation has been destroyed, maybe there’ll be uncovered stories of violence or killing in here somewhere. But there’s little more information than that available and it’s something that makes the title that little bit more intriguing. It also took Second Place in the Best Newcomer category at the German Videogame Awards (or Deutscher Computerspielpreis if you speak German) this year and the small selection of those that have had a longer play on it have given positive reviews for this story-driven experience so we can’t wait to get our own hand on it! Until then, we’ll keep you updated with the latest and hopefully get more details on when to expect it soon – enjoy the teaser below!

Xbox Wireless Expanding

ScreenHunter_36 Aug. 16 22.08

Even before the Xbox One released there were plenty of ways to be able to combine your Xbox Accessories with your PC – I still use my 360 adapter on the odd occasion! Yet the “Xbox Family” has steadily grown since the release of the One with improvements in wireless items having recent Bluetooth additions when looking at the new Xbox Wireless Controller, though the Xbox Wireless Adapter has been a necessary accompaniment to have these run on a PC.

c8293b60-6fe6-4a44-9df0-ea500ca5ded5

The new Bluetooth Wireless controller comes as a standard with the Xbox One S.

Today, the expansion continues as the first PC with integrated Xbox Wireless is announced in the form of the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube. The first in many partner devices will allow all Xbox Wireless accessories to connect to your PC (providing it’s this one!) straight out of the box without any additional dongles or USB adapter thingies sticking out “your pc”. Other partners that are currently being worked with include those at the forefront of accessories; Astro, PDP (Rock Band Guitar), Turtle Beach, HyperX, Lenovo and more; so expect to see other third party items having the Xbox Wireless symbol becoming standard with the Windows 10 merge incoming.

ScreenHunter_30 Aug. 16 21.35

It’s nice and starts at $1,299 – more here

Lower latency, enabled cross-platform play, wireless support for stereo sound and eliminating the need for adapters are all benefits to look forward to with the new hardware but it’ll require some testing to find out how much better the wireless quality really is. For the cube above, it’s the first time the adapter is integrated within the chassis, but Microsoft have bigger plans for the future and hope for direct integration onto PC motherboards with hardware partners.

Another step to continue the all-in-one progress that has continued since the Xbox One released or another item on the ever-expanding Christmas you may never get? Let us know below.

Warhammer: Vermintide

ScreenHunter_15 Jul. 27 13.11

Warhammer Vermintide has been a bit of a hit on Steam since it originally released in October of 2015. Scoring top marks across many different opinion aficionado’s, I’ve also had a bit of playtime on the PC version after my first attraction to it at the EGX Rezzed event back in April (and tried to get information on the upcoming console version!). In its’ simplest terms, it’s Left 4 Dead in the Warhammer universe; with an RPG element of gear and varying difficulties, with a few different classes to play to boot. A more formal description though:

Vermintide is a four player co­op game pitting you against vile and endless Skaven hordes, which have overrun the city of Ubersreik. Players must fight the menace together as four out of five heroes, each with unique play styles, personalities and weapon arsenals. Players are dropped into the deep end of the pool, and the game will have you struggling to stay afloat until you finish the level ­or it finishes you.

ScreenHunter_23 Jul. 27 13.19

Today, we have a confirmed date for the console version of October 4th 2016 with a little of the press release below.

“More than half a million PC gamers have already taken Vermintide to their heart, and this fall it’s time for console players to do the same. The consoles will get an extended version that includes all DLCs released for the PC version to date” says Martin Wahlund, CEO at Fatshark, and continues”. We are over the moon to be working with Nordic Games on this release as their experience and expertise are incomparable.”

“The combination of Fatshark and Warhammer seems too good to be true. We do have quite a few fanboys in our team, who played Krater, Lead and Gold, and – of course – also played the hell out of Warhammer Vermintide on PC. To say we are stoked to work with Fatshark on Warhammer Vermintide for consoles and the physical edition for PC is the understatement of 2016 in my book” comments Reinhard Pollice, Business and Product Development Director at Nordic Games.

ScreenHunter_22 Jul. 27 13.15

So what will you get with the game? Well, there’s the addition of their “super challenging” Last Stand mode with two additional maps (think Halo Firefight/COD Zombies) as well as the Sigmar’s Blessing and Drachenfels DLC. So they’re not holding back wit ha stripped-down version, oh no, they’re giving you a healthy portion and then some. But what’s really got my anti-vermin blood going is that this is no ordinary PC port. Speaking to one of the developers at the aforementioned EGX Rezzed this year, they understood the complications and, shall we say, less-than-optimised alterations that a port from PC can include. Because of this, they regrew the game from the ground up to make sure it was made for consoles. No buggy controller issues or hotkey combinations, instead something that felt like it was an original member of the console family. We’ll also make sure to have a full review of the game closer to the time but until then, the console trailer follows.

Before you get ready to slash some oversized rats and alike, make sure you…

Kerbal Space Program Review

ScreenHunter_129 Jul. 23 13.25

Kerbal Space Program isn’t exactly rocket science. Say what? Calm down, maybe it is, and in this particular instance pretty darn accurate too. With an eclectic mix of realistic orbital physics; from air resistance, gravitational pull and Newtonian dynamics (you might wanna Google that one); with witty humour around a humanoid race that stresses little importance to health and safety, this original space-explorer smashes that final frontier with as big a rocket as inhumanly possible.

The setting is loosely based on our own solar system and includes a total of 8 planets and 9 moons all with individual characteristics from size and mass (and therefore gravitational pull), atmosphere and landscapes. Kerbol (Earth) is where your story begins and, depending on which game mode you delve into first, missions range from simply getting off the ground safely to piloting ships around the cosmos and all the planetary presences within it.

Kerbal Space Program

The game originally released on Steam Early Access back in June of 2011 and if you take some time out to watch some videos (we’ll have one up soon by the way!) or get your hands on a copy anyway, there have been some major overhauls in physics and the sheer number of creative options in your armory. It was finally “officially released” in April 2015 and has now arrived on Xbox One, as of 15th July 2016. A lot of its adolescence has been spent on the mouse and keyboard and that certainly shows in some of the button combinations needed for particular commands. This is where one of the few criticisms is apparent – it is a port and, although it’s a damn good one, some functions can be a little tricky with a sometimes over-reactive joystick. Having played both versions for many hours, actual creation and flying  especially does feel easier rather than having to hit a multiple of 8+keys on the keyboard, so it’s only a minimal complaint.

The gameplay itself could certainly tick a number of boxes on a genre list. The freestyle sandbox element was the original and only version during early access and the rest of the game has been built around that pillar. Every part has its purpose, from a range of fuel tank sizes to communication arrays – and construction can easily lead to larger ships surpassing hundreds of parts. Sandbox lets you build with whatever the game has to offer but if you’re just getting started, beginning with the tutorials and then moving onto the Science game mode may be a good idea. This adds a small element of RPG with parts becoming unlocked via a gained resource, Science, which can be obtained by completing tasks and activities. It also eases you into the game with a slowly increasing catalogue of items so you get a better understanding of what pieces actually do. Career drops you into the hardcore science fanatic zone and, depending on the difficulty you set it at, is the most brutal. The biggest difference here is the addition of contracts; in-game missions which can usually require you to meet restricted criteria during a flight. For example, testing (ie. igniting) a rocket at a certain altitude while going a certain speed can mean having to retry from launch a number of times.

Kerbal Space Program

That’s a Rover right there, you just have to get it there!

Contracts reward you with one of three rewards or resources. Funds can be spent on rockets, building upgrades and astronaut employment (oh yes, if you send Mr Jebediah Kerbin on a mission that leads to him floating around space for the rest of his life, you’ll have to employ another). Reputation is another, and leads to better contracts with greater rewards, as well as some unlocks for buildings, while Science is here again for unlocking new parts.

Delving deeper into what you can do, landing and populating other planets with custom-made moon bases, creating a space station that could dwarf the ISS, or land on everything possible within the Kerbin System (including asteroids) are all loosely directed via missions. But what of pushes this game into its own individual territory is that you are reasonably free to do what you want, especially in Sandbox mode. Want to make the largest rocket possible? Just make sure you’re put enough struts in. There’s so much going on here that you can’t judge this game’s longevity by what’s on offer – only by your imagination and love for building rockets.

Kerbal Space Program

Created with the Unity Engine, Kerbals has been both developed and published by a small company based in Mexico; Squad. Previously focusing on digital and interactive services for a range of well-known companies, like Coca-Cola and Sony, KSP is Squad’s debut game. We’re huge – if envious – fans of the breadth of games available to our PC-loving friends. It’s great to see games like this making the leap to console, but at the moment there’s little to compare with Kerbals on the Xbox Store, unless you take Spore into consideration.

So KSP has its niche, and with it being a Top 5 Best Seller on Steam, gaining a number of gaming awards and getting ratings including an 84/100 on OpenCritic, what do we make of it now it’s landed on console?

Well, there are certainly improvements that could be made. The Node system (planning trajectory changes during flights) is one that could do with a little adjusting. And although you won’t be using is straight away, it’s a requirement when leaving orbit and heading off to the stars. During a number of hours play, there have been some occasional system crashes that seem to occur mainly from quick loading and a couple in the VAB – Vehicle Assembly Building. Although this has little long-lasting effects on saved data the initial loading time of the game can mean a 5 minute restart to get back where you were before. We do expect these bugs to be ironed out in the near future too. Finally, the price may dissuade you from what’s technically a five year old game, but in our opinion it’s money well spent!

Kerbal Space Program is available from the Xbox Store now, priced at £31.99.

MotoGP16: Valentino Rossi Out Now

ScreenHunter_98 Jun. 18 17.26

The “Ultimate MotoGP Experience” from Milestone and, of course, Valentino Rossi is now available! It’s not just the two-wheel MotoGP experience that Rossi is most famous for that you can experience though, as the game encompasses the many disciplines that have made him such a historical champion.

Not only does he have NINE Grand Prix World Championships under his belt for his motorcycle achievements, he has tested F1 cars (nearly lapping faster than Shumacher’s trial time in 2006) and beaten Colin McRae. Let’s just say he knows his stuff!

Italian video game developer Milestone is the lead for the country and has been creating racing games for over 20 years – arcade racer Screamer was originally developed by their previous alias Graffiti back in 1995 for windows and MS-DOS. Since then, the WRC and MotoGP series have been a staple in the racing genre of games so we’re hoping this latest and greatest is certain to make its mark.

Still not sold? We’ll have a full review coming soon to give you a more in-depth analysis and if this game can keep up with the current competition out there with racing games.

http://www.xboxoneuk.com/xbox-one/news/valentino-rossi-out-now/

The S Requires a Kinect Adapter

ScreenHunter_96 Jun. 14 17.44

With the announcement of the Xbox One S (find out about it here) some, however few that may or may not be, will be disappointed to see there is no built-in adapter for the Kinect. But a couple of updates to mention in this brief write up may settle a few worries you may have, other than the extra hours of work you’re going to have to put in with the sheer amount of hardware being released in the not-too-distant future.

ScreenHunter_93 Jun. 14 17.19

If you have and love your Kinect sensor, you can keep it and use it with the Xbox One S. However, you will need a Kinect adapter as pictured below which can also be used with Windows 10 enabled PC’s. If you haven’t got one of these the current going price is around £35. If you already have a Kinect you can register on this page for a free adapter (when the offer goes live) so those that have already invested in the hardware don’t have to keep forking out cash to keep it running.

kinect adapter

For some, the Kinect may already be obsolete and for those considering the S, they may only currently use it for the IR blasting functionality – infrared technology that is able to control other media devices, such as home cinema systems. This functionality is prebuilt into the S on the same matt-black lower portion of the console as the newly-positioned usb port. Until the next technological leap though, “Xbox On” may be a far less used phrase in the coming months.

Update

It may have been expected with the introduction of HDR but as there is a greater demand on the console itself there is (supposedly) to be a slight increase in GPU and CPU output. How much this will be exactly may be revealed in the next few days; it is said to be noticeable enough to reduce screen tearing and reduce fps drops in the more hungry parts of games.

Introducing the Xbox One S

ScreenHunter_91 Jun. 14 09.41

It may be hard to believe that it’s nearly 3 years since the Xbox One released. Before that, my 360 had been replaced by the Slim version with a shiny gloss finish, far quieter noise output (remember those fans and the disc drive on the original?!) and a built in wireless adapter. The first gen Kinect also had a dedicated port but remembering back to that, maybe the less said the better – I still have the theme to Disney’s Kinect Rush in my head!

And so there is little surprise that at this weeks’ E3, the Xbox One S was showcased and, as you can see from the header picture, has a bit of a redesign. Firstly, the dimensions are considerably smaller, approximately 40% in terms of physical space being used up by the current behemoth. The colour change to white with the right side gloss finish being replaced by a textured mesh-look (fan intake on either side) should stop those fingerprints being so apparent for those that love perfection. All the ports on the back are condensed down alongside the move of the left hand USB, sometimes less-than-handy for your charging output, being moved to the the front of the console instead. And for those that have missed the option for keeping your console in the vertical position, a stand is also included – pictured below.

Xbox One S Console Vertical Right Angle

What about hardware changes? Well, as with any “updated” versions of the console don’t expect your games to look any better, but there are some worthwhile additions. But let’s start with a subtraction in that the big “power brick” is no more – cheers all round #highfive! Without spamming this article with loads of screenshots, the unboxing below shows that we no longer have to make space for that black brick of doom, and regular noise with the integrated fan that came with it. If you’re wanting a 4K video output for your TV the S includes this too and, considering you’d be lucky in purchasing a 4k blueray player for under £100, the current RRP of £299 for the 500GB Xbox S (£349 for the 1TB, £399 for the 2TB) could be attracting more than us gamer types. The new controller is also including the popularity that the Lunar version has introduced with the textured backing for additional grip.

If you’re a fan of the Kinect though, you’ll have to look into a usb adapter as it’s not included in the newer version. Whether it was just to keep it as small as possible or if it’s another visible step to the Kinects’ demise only time will tell, but it’s not news that the backtrack on how good it is, how it should be and with the lack of Kinect features in newer games could see the end of voice commands until it gets that much better.

What may also put you off is that this is NOT the Scorpio console, due to be released next Fall. Although the specs on the Scorpio are minimal (addition of being VR ready) with it being only a year after the official release of the Xbox One S may deter many on having to buy a third console within the space of four years.

http://www.xboxoneuk.com/xbox-one/news/introducing-the-xbox-one-s/