Category: Network Gaming

How about encouraging computer and video games development in Europe, Oceania and other areas

Most computer and video games are written in USA or Japan, mainly through larger studios like EA, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and others.

This is typically because of the common platforms such as the main console platforms where the barriers of entry to the platform are very significant. The regular-computer (PC / Mac) and mobile platforms aren’t as exacting as the main console platforms and are in a better position to nurture more games developers. This is although Microsoft was running the XNA game-development program for their XBox 360 console which opened up game development for this platform.

The regular-computer and mobile platforms are opening up the “indie” game-development community which is independent of the main US and Japanese studios. A key example of this is Rovio, a Dutch games studio who built up the successful “Angry Birds” game franchise for the mobile platforms.

Europe has had a chance at the development of computer games through the 1980s while computing platforms like the Commodore Amiga which had an open-access software development environment existed. Similarly, when the Philips CD-I format gained a bit of a foothold in the European market in the mid 1990s, a few European games studios developed games like Burn Cycle for that format. But these were systems that had some level of popularity primarily in Europe.

Typically most of these efforts see their results achieve some sort of “domestic” popularity where the game is popular in its home market. But Rovio, a Finnish independent games studio, had cut through this barrier by releasing the popular “Angry Birds” game franchise, initially to the iOS and Android mobile platforms. But this was so popular worldwide that they ported it out to other non-mobile platforms like the PlayStation Portable and the two main regular-computing platforms, Windows and MacOS X.

The Android-driven OUYA games console is in a position to allow the independent games studios to write for the large-screen console market because it has access to the Google Play app store and the Android knowhow. This could open up paths for games studios in the under-represented areas like Europe and Oceania to cut in to the gaming mainstream. Similarly, there were a few other games consoles such as the “Steam Box” being premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year. These console platforms, along with the Android and iOS mobile platforms, could light up the independent gaming scene and encourage the development of games titles in these areas.

As well, governments and local industry associations could establish incubation programs for the computer and video games industry in these areas. This could come in the form of, per se, a culture ministry treating gaming / interactive-entertainment development in a similar manner to other arts and culture endowment programs. On the other hand, an entertainment-content district like India’s “Bollywood” extending their brand and concept to interactive entertainment like what has happened with Hollywood.

Once you have other countries and areas having interactive-entertainment studios and engaged in computer and video games, it can allow a lot more to occur. For example, games can be reflective of different cultures rather than a Hollywood-led “aggressive” culture. Similarly, a game that is set in the modern era like some adventure and strategy games can be set up to reflect a locale other than the suburbia of USA.

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An all-in-one PC now with gaming credentials

Article

Maingear introduces first boutique gaming all-in-one PC | Reviews – Desktops – CNET Reviews

My Comments

Previously, a computer that had serious gaming credibility, commonly described as a “gaming rig”, was a full-size tower-style PC that was decked out with “hotted-up” processors, highly-strung graphics-card circuitry and other components. These setups needed intense cooling and, in some applications, used elaborate cooling systems as part of some wild case designs. They were typically connected to large displays and gaming-optimised input devices as well as intense surround-sound systems.

Now Maingear have redefined how a gaming computer should be designed by releasing the Alpha 24 Super. This is an “all-in-one” computer that is able to take a full-size PCI Express graphics card and use it to drive the main screen. It has a similar kind of expandability as the HP Z1 all-in-one workstation which, although pitched as a CAD or graphics-arts workstation, can be built out as an intense gaming rig.

It can support a 256Gb mSATA SSD and 3Tb regular hard disk as its main secondary storage as well as having 2 miniPCI Express slots for further function expandability. Maingear are offering it with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX-650 or the GTX-680 which have Optimus automatically-selectable graphics “overdrive”. This means that it can save on energy costs and cooling needs when undertaking regular Web browsing or office work. As for the display, this unit supports a 24” HD touchscreen for Windows 8 and has an HDMI input so it can work as a display for video peripherals.  North-American users can have this computer equipped with a CableCard-compliant TV tuner for use as the “all-in-one” bach-pad entertainment setup when it comes to regular computing use, games, TV, DVD or online video.

What I am impressed about this computer is that it is another “all-in-one” that allows you to upgrade / expand / repair it yourself, this allowing the computer to have a very long useful life. I would also reckon that it could be considered as a “poor man’s” alternative to the HP Z1 Workstation.

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Is this what the new super slim PlayStation 3 is all about

Articles

Sony unveils super slim PlayStation 3 | Crave – CNET

Sony PlayStation 3 2012 up close and personal eyes on | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

US Press Release

European Press Release

My Comments

The press have been afield with the news about Sony’s latest PlayStation 3 games console. But this one is a major redesign to cope with the smaller space that newer consolidated electronics can occupy. This has yielded a smaller console that is significantly lighter and doesn’t use as much power as the existing units.

One main difference is that it has a top-loading Blu-Ray drive for your games and movies. This uses a sliding lid in a similar vein to some CD players like the B&O Beocenter 9000 series music systems rather than the hinged lid that, in my opinion, is asking for problems. 

There are two main design variants – one with a 500Gb hard disk and a cheaper variant with 12Gb flash memory with the ability to add in an optional 250Gb hard disk. The American market would have the console come with the 250Gb hard disk in the box. The cheaper version may work with occasional gamers and those of us who use the PS3 more as a network media client rather than as the full-on games console.

Of course there will be access to the PlayStation Network and the local video-on-demand services that has allowed the PS3 to earn its keep as a network multimedia terminal rather than just a games console for teenagers and young men. It will also have the same performance expectations as the current-generation PS3.

But could these variants be a way to bring the PlayStation Experience to more households or allow one to increase the feasibility for more of the multi-player multi-machine gaming from this console?

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What could the OUYA Android games console be about

Article

An update on OUYA’s exciting Android-based console project: Success! | Hello Android

From the horse’s mouth

OUYA Web site

Kickstarter Web site

My Comments

From my observations, Android has been known to offer an open-frame computing platform for the smartphone and tablet. This has included access to independent content services as well as access to third-party browsers, independent content-transfer paths, and standards-based setup.

Now the Kickstarter project has asssisted the OUYA Android-based gaming platform which has been called as an effort to “open up” the last “closed” gaming environment i.e. the television. This environment has been effectively controlled by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo through the sale of loss-leading consoles and developers finding it hard to cotton on to one of these console platforms without having to pony up large sums of money or satisfy onerous requirements.

The OUYA gaming platform could be seen as an effort to take Android’s values of openness to this class of device, especially by allowing independent games authors and distributors to have access to a large-screen console gaming platform. One of the main requirements is to provide free-to-play parts for a game title like what has successfully happened with games for regular computers, mobile devices and Web-driven online / social play. This is where games were available with demo levels or with optional subscriptions, microcurrency trading or paid add-on content.

Other companies have stood behind OUYA as an IPTV set-top box platform with TuneIn Radio (an Internet-radio directory for mobile phones) and VeVo (an online music-video service with access to most of the 1980s-era classics) giving support for this platform.

The proof-of-concept console uses the latest technology options like a Tegra3 ARM processor, 1Gb RAM / 8Gb secondary flash storage, 802.11g/n Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking as well as Bluetooth 4.0 Smart-Ready wireless peripheral interface. The controllers have analogue joysticks, a D-pad, a trackpad and link via this Bluetooth interface. They are also a lightweight statement of industrial design.

But I would like to see some support for additional local storage such as the ability to work with a USB hard disk or a NAS for local games storage. This could allow one to “draw down”extras for a game that they are playing

What is possible for the OUYA gaming platform

Hardware development and integration

But what I would like to see out of this is that the OUYA platform is available as an “open-source” integration platform. This could mean that someone who was to build a smart-TV, an IPTV set-top box or a PVR could integrate the OUYA platform in to their product in the same vein as what has successfully happened with the Android platform. For example, Philips or B&O could design a smart TV that uses the OUYA platform for gaming or a French ISP like Free, SFR or Bougyes Télécom offering a “triple-play” service could have the OUYA platform in an iteration of their “décodeur” that they supply to their customers.

Similarly the specification that was called out in the proof-of-concept can be varied to provide different levels of functionality like different storage and memory allowances or different hardware connections.

Software development and distribution

For software development, the OUYA platform can be seen as an open platform for mainstream and independent games studios to take large-screen console gaming further without having to risk big sums of money.

Examples of this could include the development and distribution of values-based games titles which respect desired values like less emphasis on sex or violence; as well as allowing countries that haven’t built up a strong electronic-games presence, like Europe, to build this presence up. There is also the ability to explore different games types that you may not have had a chance to explore on the big screen.

The OUYA platform could satisfy and extend vertical markets like venue-specific gaming / entertainment systems such as airline or hotel entertainment subsystems or arcade gaming; and could work well for education and therapy applications due to this open-frame platform.

Conclusion

What needs to happen is that there be greater industry and consumer awareness about the OUYA open-source large-screen gaming platform so that this platform is placed on the same level as the three established platforms. This this could open up a path to an open-frame computing platform success that the Android platform has benefited from.

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New changes coming ahead for the handheld PlayStation Experience

Articles

Sony’s official NGP announcement video hits the web | Engadget

PSP Reborn: The Quad-Core Next Generation Portable (NGP) | Sony Insider

Your Guide To The Sony Next-Generation Portable | CNET Crave

Sony annonce sa "3DS killer" | TF1.fr (France – French language)

My Comments

Sony have implemented a few changes for the PlayStation Gaming Platform which will be affecting this platform as a handheld-gaming platform. What they have realised is that the PlayStation Portable or PSP has reached its peak and is facing competition from the iOS and Android mobile devices when it comes to handheld gaming.

NGP – Next-Generation Portable

This console, which is intended to be the successor to the PSP has also been rated as a a “Nintendo 3DS-killer” according to TF1 in France.

It has a 5” AMOLED touchscreen but there are still the control buttons that eager gameplayers can keep “mashing”; as well as two analogue joysticks for its control options. Like the iOS and Android devices, there will be support for sensors. These will be in the form of a GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer as well as a front camera and a back camera as well as rear touchpads.

All these sensors are there to permit “augmented reality” and other enhanced gaming experiences. Examples of this included looking around sports-type games in a first-person form such as looking around a pool table or golf tee before hitting off that shot.

The gaming performance has been improved over the PSP with use of a quad-core Cortex A9 processor, 512Mb RAM and PowerVR SGC 543 MP4+ graphics subsystem. This then can allow for some of the more heavier titles that will appeal to a lot of the players.

This console will have network connectivity in the form of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But there will be versions that will come with 3G wireless-broadband technology, in a similar vein to the smartphones and tablet computers.

I often wonder whether this connectivity will allow for more than downloading of games and extras from the PlayStation Store or playing games via the the PlayStation Network. The applications that I am thinking of include peer-to-peer gaming; interaction with the DLNA Home Media Network or interoperability with the PS3 games console.

The storage in this console consists of an SDHC card slot for user-data storage as well as 16Gb on board/ But Sony are also using a new flash-memory-based cartridge format for distributing pre-packaged games.

As far as games availability goes for the initial run, most of the games that are available for the PS3 are intended to be ported to this console. It will be interesting to see what games will take advantage of the touchscreen and the sensors that this handheld has.

I also wonder whether the games will make use of the relatively-large choice of user interfaces that this console offers such as the buttons and joysticks, the touchscreen or the sensors. This is whether as alternative interfaces or as interfaces that are particular to the game or part thereof.

PlayStation Experience for Android – PlayStation Suite

As well, Sony intend to bring out a “PlayStation Suite” app for certain Android phones so that these can be played like the PSP or the NGP. The big question that I have about this is which phones will be able to run this software and whether there will be the full range of games on this platform. This could certainly put Apple on notice when it comes to the smartphone as a gaming platform, because of the PlayStation platform’s prowess with the advanced games like the Final Fantasy series of adventure games.

At the moment, this PlayStation Experience will be limited to an emulator which will be used to play the games that existed for the original Sony PlayStation console.

Conclusion – What could happen to the PlayStation brand?

The introduction of sensors and touchscreens to the PlayStation Experience could allow Sony to add extra dimensions to the games available for this platform and use the PlayStation name as a reference point for console and mobile gaming. Who knows whether Sony will extend this brand to premium Windows and MacOS X games that are meant to be played on those “gaming rigs”?

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Videos – Setting up your games console to become part of your home network

Today, I had seen some excellent YouTube videos posted by Netgear on how to integrate your games console in to your home network. They make references to the networks being based on their own hardware, but these instructions apply to any and all home networks no matter what router is at the edge.

Also, when they discussed how to connect the XBox360, PlayStation 3 and Wii to the home network, they mentioned that you can use a HomePlug-based power-line network setup using their PowerLine AV network kit to build the HomePlug segment. The main theme was to connect the HomePlug adaptor to the console via its Ethernet port and select the “wired” connection option as appropriate.

The reason I have liked the videos was because they gave a visual walkthrough of the setup user interaction needed to be performed at each console. They also pointed out if a console needed extra hardware to be part of the home network depending on the connection type. They are also worth having as a reference if you are likely to move your console(s) between locations such as for video-games parties.

If you are viewing this in an RSS Web feed, whether through your RSS software or as syndicated content on a Website like Facebook, you will need to visit this blog to view the videos. You can do this by clicking on the View Original Post option in the software or Web site. 

TV-connected consoles

Microsoft XBox360

Connections Benefits
WiFi – optional USB adaptor Online Gaming via XBox Live, Games and extras available for download through XBox Live, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger) chat, Web browsing
Ethernet – Integrated Windows Media Center Extender, DLNA-compatible media player

 

Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) – includes “PS3 Thin”

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming via PLAYSTATION Network, Games and extras available for download through PLAYSTATION Store, YouTube terminal
Ethernet – Integrated DLNA-compatible media player
 

Nintendo Wii

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming, Wii Channels, Web browsing, Games and extras available for download to Wii and DSi from Wii Shop online store
Ethernet – optional USB adaptor  
 

Handhelds

All of these handheld have integrated WiFi as their sole connection means due to their portable nature.

Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)

Benefits: Online Gaming, Web Browsing, RSS Feeds and Podcasts

 

Nintendo DSi

Benefits: Online Gaming,Game download via DSi Store, Web browsing

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