In the past, I've clambered to the top of my soapbox tower in order to wax ludological about why games should be fun. While riding back down the escalator from atop my exceedingly ritzy box, I gazed upon my audience, hoping that I'd at least imparted one tiny nugget of info: I don't care about difficulty -- I'll even turn a game's masculinity meter down to "Very Easy" -- if it means having a good time. Lucky for me, many of today's game developers seem to agree with my sentiment. They hold our hands like an overprotective mother herding her child across the street. They give us failsafes for our failsafes. They design their games to be "fair."
But therein lies the problem. Personally, I think games should flip us a double-sided coin every once in a while. If the scales never tip, then what impact do our choices have? Take, for instance, BioShock. Whether you saved the Little Sisters or ended them, you still gained roughly the same amount of Eve, and bonus powers were negligible. BioShock was supposed to have us wracking our brains every time we made a choice. Your life versus the Little Sisters' -- power because of necessity versus mercy. Instead, though, the whole thing was a sham.
More recently, Mercenaries 2 made a similar mistake -- essentially replicating its weapon set across the game's different factions, making your choice of gun-toting employer basically meaningless.
And guess what? The onus for this trend rests on our shoulders. If the aliens have nicer weapons than the humans, we hop on message boards and join in a chorus of variously pitched whining. Single-player or multiplayer, if a game isn't perfectly "balanced," we get uppity.
So maybe we should just ease off our "!" key and let developers flex their creative muscles from time-to-time. A few failed attempts would be well worth the successes other games might reap.
But what say you, MPC readers? Should games continue down the sterile road toward same-same fairness, or would you prefer developers give some meaning to our choices, even if it means ruffling some feathers in the process?
Either way, this installment of the Roundup is just what you're looking for -- mostly because you're already reading it. Today, you'll find news about a wicked-cheap font from which X-COM now springs, a good reason to nab an Xbox 360, and episodic gaming's great failing.
Microsoft has revised the cap on hard disk space in netbooks running Windows XP. Now netbooks can have up to 160GB hard drive space, which is double the 80GB space previously permitted. It is anticipated that this increase in storage size will boost netbook sales, though not as significantly as enhanced processing power might. MSI and Asustek have already released the 160GB variants of their Wind and Eee PC netbooks respectively. This move can also dampen the sales prospects of SSD-bearing netbooks, which have comparatively lesser storage space due to current SSD prices.
Various streaming video services, and not just Youtube, have found favor among internet users in Britain and that has driven people away from P2P. Furthermore, according to PlusNet’s Dave Tomlinson, people are turning to streaming videos as they want to access content instantly.
All ISPs unequivocally despise P2P traffic and some have even devised clandestine methods to suppress it. There machinations against P2P are always wrapped in the puritanical garb of fighting piracy. Although streaming services are also used for propagating copyrighted content, the percentage of such unauthorized content is nothing compared to P2P. So ISPs might not have a moral pretext to combat streaming video, if it becomes as popular as P2P.
Despite its diminishing popularity, Microsoft still plans on releasing new Zune models in 120GB and 8GB (flash-based) capacities. We’re unsure what colors will be released, but we do know that you’ll at least have the option of a black 120GB and a blue 8GB.
Though the Zune never bumped Apple’s iPod out of first place, it managed to make its mark in the digital audio player (DAP) market with wireless syncing and a bigger screen. The player became a little played out though, with weak sales making the Zune an after thought in the DAP market.
Engadget reports that the old 80GB and 4GB were discontinued at Wal-Mart, just in time to pave the way for their successors. The new Zunes will cost $249 and $149, respectively, with the 80GB iPod Classic costing the same as a 120GB Zune. Though the price tag may seem a little steep, the Zune’s features, such as the built-in FM Tuner and wireless capabilities, give consumers a little more bang for their buck.
Paramount Digital Entertainment bought DVD games developer Screenlife. The move will allow Paramount to strengthen the reach of it cinematic offerings. Screenlife has to its credit the well known “Scene It?” game brand. Screenlife will continue to operate autonomously even after this deal. Thomas Lesinski, Paramount Digital Entertainment’s president, said that the acquisition will advance the company’s multiplatform strategy. Paramount didn’t elaborate upon the financial details of the transaction.
AMD, the one company in a position to give Intel a run for its money, has seen just how hard it is to keep up. Ever since Intel woke up from its Netburst slumber, the mostly two-man CPU market has been dominated by Intel and its Core 2 architecture, and that doesn't look to change any time soon. Is there room for another contender?
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Computing Technology are talking about a new microprocessor they hope will make major headway in China by 2010. Backed by government funding, the chip was developed by more than 200 researchers.
"Twenty years ago in China, we didn't support R&D for microprocessors," said Zhiewi Xu, deputy director of ICT. "The decision makers and IT community have come to realize that CPUs are important."
China knows its getting a late start, but this isn't brand new territory for ICT. The group first began designing a single-core chip back in 2001, with Godson-1, China's first general purpose CPU, making a debut one year later. Now in its third iteration, engineers have added 200 additional instructions to Godson-3 to simulate a x86 chip, which will allow it to run more software than either of its predecessors.
It's worth noting that China's goal with the new processor isn't to take down Intel, a Herculean task by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, Tom Halfhill, an analyst at research firm In-Stat and Maximum PC magazine columnist, points out that "China wants to be independent. They don't want to be dependent on outside countries for critical technologies like microprocessors, which are, nowadays, a fundamental commodity."
Dell CEO Michael said Wednesday at the Citigroup Technology Conference that notebooks will eventually become subsidized by wireless telecom carriers, who will no doubt sell the devices with 3G service and capabilities in an effort to profit from the growing mobile market.
The prediction merely came off as an indication of the company’s strategy to stay afloat among the sea of competition infiltrating the notebook market, especially considering that the company has had less than expected profit margins. With the rising popularity of 3G, Dell expects that telecom carriers will take over the laptop market in order to sell the services and prepare for the eventual initiation of 4G. Notebooks will ultimately become netbooks.
At the conference, Citigroup said that netbooks will account for about a third of global notebook sales. Dell agreed, saying that “(Netbooks are) a market expansion,” according to ZDNet. Dell will no doubt follow this strategy as it attempts to reinitiate itself into the notebook market.
If Samsung is to be belieived, the future for Blu-ray doesn't look so bright. Despite burying its rival, HD-DVD, and gaining market penetration thanks to Sony's Playstation 3 console, Samsung sees the high definition format as being on life support.
"I think it has 5 years left, I certainly wouldn't give it 10," said Andy Griffiths, director of consumer electronics at Samsung UK.
With such a pessimistic outlook, Samsung must be looking towards digital downloads as the next big thing, right? Surprisingly, no. According to Samung, the successor to Blu-ray will be OLED displays. Huh? Odd as it sounds, the company is touting high definition displays while downplaying a media format that could show off the new displays.
"We will launch the OLED technology when it's at a price that will be appealing to the consumer, unfortunately that's not yet," explained Griffiths.
Griffiths went on to say that OLED could be become a mainstream technology by as early as 2010.
If nothing else, give PNY points for creativity. In an attempt to differentiate its USB keys from other companies, the memory maker will attempt to sell a 2GB USB flash drive with the movie Ghostbusters pre-installed.
"As a market leader in the USB market, PNY's focus is to offer consumers added value by providing enjoyable blockbuster content on their USB," said Stefanie Summerfield, UK and Nordic sales and marketing director for PNY Technologies.
It remains to be seen exactly how many people will be interested in receiving a free 20-year-old movie with their USB key, but if it proves popular enough, it's conceivable that the partnership between PNY and Sony could lead to more flicks on more flash drives. That's assuming consumers won't be put off by the DRM scheme. According to a PNY spokesperson, customers will be able to download Ghostbusters to their laptop or PC, but they'll have to have the USB key plugged in if they want to watch the movie.
Is PNY on to something here, or are pre-loaded movies ultimately just a marketing gimmick? Hit the jump and post your toughts.
If you've been waiting for Dell to officially release its Mini 9 notebook line, your wait is now over. On the high end, a starting price of $449 buys a Mini Inspiron 910 with an Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz frontside-bus, 512K cache), 1GB of DDR2 RAM clocked at 533MHz, a 16GB SSD, and other odds and ends tied together with Windows XP. Cut the hard drive and RAM in half and you can knock $50 off the price, or drop down to the Inspiron 910u for $349. It comes with the same goodies as the higher end models, except with a 4GB SSD, 512MB DDR2, and Ubuntu 8.04 instead of Windows XP.
For those willing to wait one more day, Dell's blog claims that as of 6 a.m. Central tomorrow, "you'll be able to get a Mini for only $99with the purchase of a Studio 15, XPS M1530, or XPS M1330 laptop through 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9 (U.S. only)."