From Gaikai Then, To PlayStation Now

During 2014’s CES in Las Vegas, Sony announced a new, innovative way to access and live-stream hundreds of popular and classic games from the PS3’s library. PlayStation Now as the software is being named, will begin by allowing its customers to stream these games onto their PS3 or PS4, although Sony are very focused and keen on broadening that access platform as quickly and widely as possible.

Sony announced that PlayStation Now will not only be accessible via PS3 and PS4, but it will in the future be available on PS Vita, upcoming brands of Sony Bravia television models and could also branch out to an even wider range of internet-connected devices.

Although barely in beta stages, Sony have guaranteed a few features PlayStation Now will offer its users, some of them being things such as: Access to a wide-range of video games across multiple devices. An experience which fosters a similar method to other streaming services such as NetFlix or Spotify. The ability to stream the full versions of hit games on to both PlayStation and non-PlayStation devices, meaning PS3, PS4, Vita, Smart phones, tablets, televisions and maybe even computers. These games won’t be uploaded once and left to gather virtual dust, they’ll be updated frequently, have trophies, be compatible with your latest save games and allow you to play online multiplayer, all of these aspects pointing to the conclusion that PlayStation Now users will have the same experience as a disc or downloadable based gamer, at a possibly cheaper price.
Sony have told gamers “We want to offer you a choice when it comes to how you access content on PS Now, you will be able to rent or buy games, as well as purchase a subscription that will enable you to explore even more titles.” This statement helps act as proof towards what Sony are striving to do, offer the player choice, we’ve always had the option to purchase and rent media using our gaming devices, however we haven’t had the option to do that with video games, let alone from a different generation. This opens up new doors and in that, possibilities for Sony, perhaps Microsoft will be launching “Xbox Now” sometime in the future?

It is said that PlayStation Now’s beta program will begin sometime at the end of January, this beta will be for the US only and with that beta Sony will have a better understanding of how the software is received, they’re estimate release is the summer of 2014, once again for the US, as there are a lot more aspects to consider with different continents such as Europe that America doesn’t have to worry about, although, that doesn’t rule us out forever, just an extended and undisclosed period of time.

The many statements and promises Sony are allegedly going to be keeping raise a lot of questions, a few would be: How will a user be able to play titles using their television or smart phone? Do they become magically compatible with PlayStation controllers? How much will we be expected to pay for such a service? And, one that I’m most concerned about, if the PlayStation Now service does become accessible using the massive range of devices Sony have stated, wouldn’t that just make the purchase of the PlayStation systems irrelevant? Particularly if they start expanding the titles from a PS3 platform to PS4, Vita or even earlier generations such as PS1 and PS2.

The Humble Store Makes Its Debut

The Humble Bundles are now expanding, not only are we given new sets of games each week at low prices, but we’re also given larger more unique bundles every few weeks, and to top it off, there is now a store which has opened just today, named The Humble Store.

However, this isn’t any ordinary store, The Humble Store is an ever changing assortment of games which are priced extremely low; the games may be new, old, classic or some you may have never heard of. The publicity and quality of game however is really irrelevant, as the point is we now have one more outlet to buy games from, not only at a low and discounted price, but also at a price which will help charity, as 10% of every purchase goes towards one charity or another.

The Humble Store is making its debut today and the premise is more or less the same as the Humble Bundles we’re used to: Check out the site for daily games at discounted prices, purchase the ones you’re interested in and help charity. Today alone there are nine games to choose from and the list will only get bigger, featured today are Don’t Starve, Prison Architect, Gunpoint and many more.

If you need help looking for a game which fits your preference, there are some helpful features to the side of the site, an option to choose from the best-selling and newest titles, or for them to be listed alphabetically, on top of that you can choose from an operating system’s perspective by picking between PC, Mac or Linux compatible titles.

The Humble Store will be an ever changing and evolving daily occurrence which will update every day at around 7pm, there will be a list of games to choose from each at a discounted price and a portion of purchase going to charity. Today, on The Humble Store’s debut it has made over $100,000 already, proving that the fool-proof formula of interesting games at a cheap price is still as effective as ever.

Half-Life 3 Confirmed?

Back in ’98 Valve scratched their first mark into the gaming industry with the release of the first Half-Life, a first-person shooter which had players take the role of Gordon Freeman as he battled through Black Mesa fighting off the aliens who attacked from another realm.

Over ten years later and we’ve had three expansions for the original, a sequel, two episodes, a HD re-make and a giant handful of mods, tweaks and maps made by the Steam community.

What was the biggest and longest running joke of the gaming world may have become void in the past few days as the joking term “Half-Life 3 confirmed” could now be a reality. Valve kept tight lipped about anything regarding another episode, expansion or game in the Half-Life series and haven’t said anything about it in years, which is fairly common of Valve.

However, now we may have a spark that could ignite the entire industry into an explosion of buzz about the newly trademarked “Half-Life 3”, because on September 29th 2013 Valve filed for a trade mark for the third part in the Half-Life series. There has been a lot of speculation about what this could mean, but to put it plain and simple: We could be getting the long awaited Half-Life 3 sometime in the next few years.

Of course, with every situation we the more cynical of people, and those people believe Valve is trademarking the title for different reasons, could it be a huge prank? With six months away from April 1st, it’s possible. Or is Valve just covering their bases from third-party companies?

Anything could happen, but I prefer to think of it like this, if any other company filed for a trademark, gamers would assume the company were on their way to making that game. Perhaps this would be the best way to approach the situation, a title is trademarked, so we could happily go on and assume they are making it. This is a lot better than facing the possibility that Half-Life 3 is never coming

As well as the speculated reasoning behind the trademark, it’s been theorized that Half-Life 3 may be released as a Steam Box exclusive. This type of action could go two ways, giving Valve a massive boost in sales due to the incredible hype around the game, or pushing people away from the console feeling neglected that Valve aren’t releasing the title on other platforms.

One thing is confirmed though, Half-Life 3 is trademarked, is it as simple as Valve making Half-Life 3? Or will it be cast as bait when April 1st comes around? We’ll just have to wait and see in the following months for Valve to release an official statement regarding their plans for the future.

In addition to this trademark filed a few days ago, today October 2nd, Valve “Accidentally” released an internal User Picker tool which showed that at least 45 people are working on Half-Life 3 as we speak. This seems like a hefty weight towards the confirmation of production on Half-Life 3. As they may have released the asset as a method of announcing the game unofficially, Or, like so many other times in the past, a fellow gamer could have jumped on the bandwagon and conjured up something that makes it seem like the game is in development. Personally, I’d wait for an official announcement from Gabe or some of the others at Valve before getting too excited.

Review: The Inner World

While looking at the cover of The Inner World I thought two things: Can a point and click adventure game really keep me entertained? And, why on Earth is it rated 12+? I soon found out the answers to both those questions.

The Inner World is a point and click game, and although the sounds of that alone may turn some people away, it is generally a unique and most of the time, enjoyable experience. As one of Studio Fizbin’s first endeavours into the gaming world, they may still have to gain experience on their journey through the industry, but what they have created is definitely an interesting world to explore and immerse you into.

As you start up the game, you’re given a small insight to the world of Asposia, a strange vicinity which relies on three wind fountains to sustain life. Once the game begins, you are given control of a seemingly simple minded Asposian, whose main occupation is playing music for the ruler from his nose; this opening scenario really sets the tone for the rest of the unique game, showing that this isn’t going to be an ordinary adventure.

You must then travel through Asposia solving puzzles, uncovering mysteries and helping the community in a number of different ways, from giving an imprisoned tailor knitting equipment, to stopping giant Bassylians destroying the precious wind tunnels.

Although, the game for me wasn’t the story, as that was fairly generic, compared to the hand-drawn art which made up what you saw and interacted with on screen. From what the box said, everything in the game was drawn, this means the backdrops, characters, items, textures and everything else was made by an artist’s hand, this method may seem pointless to some technologically reliant minds, but it really made the game for me, to know someone drew all the assets I’m now exploring. The bar I looked in, the child I spoke to, the confessions stand I just blew up, all created by someone’s hand.

As well as the environment, another feature that was really elaborate within the game was the sheer amount of items and things you could click on and interact with, this may come across as expected in a point and click adventure, but some games in the genre allow only for interaction with the item required to progress through the story, The Inner World chose a different approach, one that lets players interact with lots of different assets and whether or not they’re required to progress is to be figured out by the user, when they think “What alternative currency could be used to place in this candy machine?” or “How can I lure this reluctant pigeon down to the street?”

Adding to the uniqueness of The Inner World was the general maturity shown in-game, not so much by the protagonist, but more so by the characters and items he interacts with. For example, he handles alcohol and sexual innuendos at an early stage of the game, which is an extremely different take on point and click adventures, however it doesn’t seem out of place, as the character spends a lot of his timein what seems like the underworld of Asposia, full of shady criminals and figures who aren’t how they’re perceived in public.

The mature edge The Inner World has is not only well-placed but also appreciated, as instead of the usual childish styles or pop-culture based point and clicks like Back To The Future and Wallace and Gromit, it’s replaced with a dark and gritty tale of a boy who is lost in the city he felt he knew best, due to him being sheltered in luxury most his life. A great example would be, instead of having the comic book-like, goofy Batman and Robin, we’re given a darker and shadier The Dark Knight Rises, both are good in their own way, but now we can decide for ourselves which we prefer in the roles of which genre.

In conclusion, The Inner World is heavily dependent on the users preferred genre, by this I mean, instead of Studio Fitzbin going for a regular old shooter, or platformer that a wide demographic can enjoy, they chose to do something we haven’t exactly seen a lot of recently, both a point and click adventure and a dark toned story, mixed into one.

Although I wish I could recommend The Inner World to everyone who enjoys a grittier style of story and gameplay, it is still solely aimed at a younger audience, even with its undertones of maturity and is still a point and click styled game, which as I mentioned earlier on, can repulse people by the mere sound.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of point and click games either, yet I found when I was in the right mood and frame of mind, jumping into the world of Asposia was a great change of pace from the explosion filled, zombie infested titles out on shelves now. Perhaps this new release will go unheard due to its shell, but it is an enjoyably fun way of burning a few hours even if you aren’t a huge point and clicker, and if you are, then you really have no reason not to have a go.

GreenShoots Programme Supporting Indie Developers

As of today, both, Creative England and Microsoft Ltd. are proud to present a new programme which can not only guide indie developers, but give them a massive boost into the gaming industry. GreenShoots focuses directly on any indie developers located in England and attempts to find ten of the most innovative companies, who show true potential for a future in the mobile games industry.

Created in a joint effort by Microsoft Ltd. and Creative England, GreenShoots is a great way of hand-picking the biggest and brightest indie developers out there right now, this will not only benefit the indie companies directly, but also Microsoft’s Windows platform, as this programme pushes towards newer and more exciting IPs being created for Windows devices.

Supported by the Government Regional Growth Fund (RGF), the programme will offer the ten best developers a funding of up to £25,000, giving them an edge over the rest in development of a new game, which will be designed especially for Windows mobile and tablet devices. However, the programme does encourage the companies to push out and release their game across all platforms.

That’s not all though, GreenShoots also includes workshops and business expertise given from Microsoft Ltd. and Creative England, to the developers themselves. In hope that the funding and advice will help all companies involved gain global recognition, as well as a thriving fanbase. Even further incentive includes a loose agreement between the involved businesses which states the money only needs to be paid back once the game begins to make a profit.

Creative England’s Head of Games said “Deeloping GreenShoots with Microsoft is a great way of us working directly with the industry; it also helps the next generation of game developers reach their commercial and creative potential.”

Senior Director of Microsoft UK talked about how “Microsoft is committed to helping the independent games industry in the UK and we’re delighted to be involved with this partnership with Creative England. Greenshoots is just one part of Microsoft’s ongoing support programme to foster new talent.”