I am Irrationally Excited for Ace Combat 7

Let’s be honest. Ace Combat Assault Horizon was awful. Ace Combat is best when it is a goofy self-serious exploration of flying silly jets in the sky and menus that have cyberpunk military noises and briefing voiceover guy telling you about Oscetia’s latest invasion along with the inevitable pretend surprise at whatever the latest gigantic airship is that you have to shoot down. Also there is usually a ground base that you can literally fly your jet fighter through to blow up. Assault Horizon had almost none of this and felt like it was trying to be more like a Call of Duty spinoff than an actual Ace Combat.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown looks like a return to the ridiculous Ace Combats of yore, and for that I am excited for when it comes out later this year on Steam for Windows and various consoles.

Windows 10 Game Mode Doesn’t Sound Very Effective

Rock Paper Shotgun’s Alec Meer interviewed Microsoft’s Kevin Gammill about the upcoming Game Mode in Windows 10:

Kevin Gammill: With the Creator’s Update and Game Mode right now, we’re primarily focused on biasing the game versus the rest of the operating system, from a GPU and CPU perspective. So for some of the other system resources, we can get into a roadmap discussion on the next call, but really right now Game Mode is about biasing the game from a GPU perspective so it gets more of the cycles if it’s in the foreground, and from a CPU perspective both biasing to get more CPU cycles as well as avoiding what I’ll call thread contention for the game.

At any time a user can call up the Game Bar and enable Game Mode for any title or game they would like. That’s kind of option one. And then at the same time we will have what we call kind of an approved list or whitelist of games that we feel super-comfortable about and we want to enable out of the gate.

Kind of the way I look at it is that any increase is a benefit, without question. Even it’s as low as, say, a 2% increase in framerate, if you’re running a hundred frames per second, I will take those extra two frames per second without question.

This is a strategy for getting gamers to switch to Windows 10 and use the built-in game bar overlay for a possible 2% increase in framerate, or a slightly more stable framerate overall. A framerate increase at all is very unlikely, because driver developers at Nvidia and AMD are already very focused on that. I wish the interview addressed the system rebooting in the middle of a game for updates, because that is a real problem for people playing games on Windows today.

Punch Nazis in Wolfenstein 3-D: Alt-Right Edition

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Ryan “icculus” Gordon has released Wolfenstein 3-D: Alt-Right Edition, it’s a in-browser version of Wolfenstein 3D where you can punch nazis like modern-day heroes punching real-life Nazi, Richard Spencer. Click here to go play. Ryan warns that it probably won’t work on phones, and points out the itch.io hosted Nazi Punching game jam for anyone who wants to make their own Nazi punching extravaganza.

Where Should Valve Draw the Line on Hosting and Selling Software?

In the past Valve has had a policy of not allowing software onto Steam for violating some unwritten policy about nudity. The only examples I know of are for games containing drawn nudity. Developers who want to work around this policy offer a different version of the game on Steam and a patch on the side to re-enable the content. It’s a bad solution because it means that Steam users could be missing out on the full experience. One recently released game seems to have changed this policy for Valve, or at least they didn’t apply it to that game.

Two days ago another product was released on Steam, for VR headsets, called Dating Lessons.

Let’s break down the description from the developer:

!Dating Lessons developed by Cerevrum Inc. is the very first VR course on dating which will give a man the skillset to build a dating life he wishes for.

Not sure why they put that exclamation mark in there. Everyone could use some help feeling confident and understanding relationships. That isn’t terrible.

Men are expected to be always strong, confident and charming. But it is not easy at all!

Ok, they have defined a huge problem with being a man in our culture and finding confidence in oneself. Maybe this software could help people better themselves. Let’s keep reading!

How to approach a woman? What to say to be interesting and charming? With the help of Magic Leone, a professional coach with 10+ years of experience teaching dating skills, every man will overcome his low-esteem and shyness.

11 lectures and 7 practical interactive sessions will give men tools to enhance their power of attraction and develop behavior patterns to handle stress and excessive worrying.

Don’t miss a chance to have an unforgettable VR experience. Following these simple hacks and cheat codes can change your dating life forever.your dating life forever.

Uh. What?
Magic Leone?

Hacks and cheat codes?

The typo at the end of repeating themselves I can forgive, but relationships aren’t a game and there aren’t “hacks” and “cheat codes” for life.

Maybe English isn’t the first language of the developer, let’s look at the screenshots.

What the fuck? Are you supposed to be some kind of dating T-1000?

 

Now you’re in a photography studio? That is a strange place for a date.
Now we have battery Meters and Magic Leone is imploring us to do something.
Back to the Terminator vision.

Well, the screenshots didn’t help things. Let’s look at one of Magic Leone’s websites:

Well, I think we know what kind of guy Magic Leone is now. We also find out on this page that he can teach men to become a “SEX GOD.” That was his emphasis that made it uppercase. Lets check out one of his testimonial videos:

I only made it 25 seconds in, when the blurred gentlemen – most of the testimonial videos feature men who are blurred out, presumably because they refused to be depicted – told us he won’t accept “no” for an answer from women. Here’s a cheat code, that makes him a rapist and a terrible person.

Other stores, like Walmart, have a long history of only stocking their shelves with music that is edited to remove language that Walmart doesn’t like. Apple rejected The Binding of Isaac from their iOS App Store only to let it through about a year later without any alteration. There’s a whole page up on Wikipedia about other media that Apple has rejected, and in some cases later allowed through. It’s up to each business to decide what they want to sell, set their policies appropriately, and hopefully enforce those policies fairly.

I hope a wide range of software and games are available on Steam in the future from many different kinds of people and with different viewpoints. As far as I know, this software does not contain nudity, which is something I believe Valve should handle on a case-by-case basis along with explicit polices and filtering for parents and guardians.

Dating Lessons exploits a user’s lack of confidence in relationships and teaches them how to be terrible people and rapists.

This is not what Valve should host and sell, this is where Valve should draw the line.

Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Notes

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Nintendo Japan had a live-streamed presentation revealing new details about their upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch. Here are my notes.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 7.00.55 PM.pngIt’ll be available March 3rd 2017 in Japan, US, Canada, “major Euro nations.”

29,980 JPY

$299.99 USD

It’ll be up for pre-order in Japan on the 21st. No word on the US.

The system will include the tablet console, the dock, Joy-con controllers, wrist straps, the grip that can hold both Joycons into a Voltron-like regular gamepad, an AC adapter using a USB-C cable and an HDMI cable. There are two different versions of the console bundle, one with the regular Joy-cons and one with differently-colored Joy-cons as depicted below.

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Switch online services will have a free trial at launch, and then cost money this Fall, like  Xbox Live and Playstation Plus.

“In general we will not apply region locking to Nintendo Switch software”

Nintendo highlighted three modes, TV Mode for typical console gameplay with the Switch docked, Tabletop mode where you can play with friends using the Joy-con controllers disconnected from the tablet for multiplayer or single player, and handheld mode where it’s just a tablet with two controllers attached. The switch is supposed to have 2.5 to 6 hours of playtime when it’s not connected to power.

For the first time, Nintendo highlighted that there is an NFC reader in the Joy-con controllers for Amiibo support.

You can get the Joy-cons in multiple colors. The Switch will include a wrist strap that slides on the rails that connect the controllers to the tablet. The Joycon controllers also have an IR sensor on one end to detect distance from objects and hand motions, similar to my old employer Leap Motion’s technology. The Joycons also have “HD Rumble” to convey different sensations. Nintendo oddly chose to highlight this through the idea of holding a glass and feeling ice cubes and then water being poured into it.

 

This was taken to a gaming context through a new multiplayer minigame collection called 1-2-Switch that started out with wild west gunslingers drawing the Joycon controllers. 1-2-Switch, will let you play these minigames without looking at a screen, and instead follow the action by observing your opponent, the rumble feedback, and occasionally the screen of the tablet.

Nintendo also introduced Arms, a fighting game that resembles punch-out at first but looks closer to a more traditional fighting game except with a third-person behind-the-back camera and fighting by swinging the Joycons.

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Nintendo also introduced Splatoon 2, with 4 on 4 multiplayer, and a new akimbo weapon. You can play with gyro features or traditionally via the pro-controller. It’ll be out this summer.

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A new 3D platforming Mario game in the style of 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy, is coming out, featuring Mario in a bizarrely alternate version of our world, Super Mario Odyssey.  It’s very weird seeing Mario interacting with a realistic-ish urban environment and humanoid people. It is supposed to have the excitement of visiting new places. Weird. It’ll be out at the end of the year.

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Monolithsoft is putting out Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Team Ninja is working on Fire Emblem Warriors.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 6.41.32 PM.pngNintendo assures us that 50 companies are working on software and 80 games are in development.

Square-Enix is working on Dragon Quest 10 and 11 along with Dragon Quest 1 and 2 for Nintendo Switch, remakes.

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Atlus is working on a Shin Megami Tensei game in the Unreal Engine.

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Square-Enix also has a new game called Project Octopath Traveler.

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Sega appeared on stage to show us their logo and say how interested they are in developing for the Switch without any commitment.

Skyrim was finally officially announced for the Switch after being in previous videos without a commitment.

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Suda51 from Grasshopper made a very awkward entrance to let us know that Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes will return. He basically broke the translator who was so bored he sounded like he was about to commit suicide.

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EA showed up to get translated into Japanese live, doubling their on-screen time, and announce EA Sports FIFA for the Switch.

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Nintendo closed with a video highlighting the software available, including quick hints of Street Fighter 2 and other games that haven’t been announced.

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Nintendo then actually closed with an announcement that Zelda will be available March 3rd, launch day.

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In a quick follow-up press release Nintendo also announced Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has all the DLC from the regular Wii-U version and a few new characters and courses.

Reggie's Gaping Maw

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SHENZHEN I/O Released out of Early Access

Zachtronic’s latest programming game, Shenzhen I/O, has exited Steam’s Early Access program. Vaguely similar to PICO-8’s fantasy console, but Shenzhen should be most familiar to people who played TIS-100. I wrote a little bit about TIS here last year, where I wondered “who the heck writes assembly today unless they’re writing code for embedded systems?” That was a little bit of a premonition, as Zachtronic’s Shenzhen I/O is all about writing assembly code for tiny embedded computers with a light helping of laying out circuits. Those layouts are (so far in my game, I’m still not far in) just connecting inputs and outputs between multiple embedded computers that you’re programming at any time.

The version of solitaire included on the fantasy desktop in Shenzhen is good fun, but maybe one of my favorite parts is getting the feelies together. I don’t have a printer anymore, so I had to get the manual printed out at an office store and order the binder online. Putting something physical together for a game is so strange anymore.

Shenzhen manual

Shenzhen I/O is a ridiculous programming game that is available now for Windows, macOS, and Linux/SteamOS, on Steam for $15. It’s on sale for $13.49 until the 24th.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is Splitting Windows Players Up

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Call of Duty: IW image via Activision

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is coming out tomorrow and it turns out that players on Windows will be split depending on which digital store they buy the game from. If you buy the boxed copy you get a Steam code and can only play with other players who bought the Steam version. If you buy the game from the app store built-into Windows you can’t play with Steam players. This is according to an FAQ on Activision’s support site for Call of Duty, via IGN, and goes for both Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer as well as the remastered version of Modern Warfare.

If you’ve been playing Call of Duty on Windows for a few years you’ve probably seen what I’ve seen, it feels like there are fewer players in multiplayer than ever, and it’s impossible to find anyone playing any modes except for team deathmatch. I can’t believe anyone would splinter the smallest of the three groups of players (Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows) intentionally.

Rocket League has cross-platform multiplayer across Xbox One and Steam, so it doesn’t seem like a policy prevents multiplayer from functioning between Microsoft-purchased games and other platforms. Really strange move on Activision’s part.

Clockwork Empires Exits Early Access

The Dungeons of Dredmor developers have taken their new clockwork empire management sim, Clockwork Empires, out of Steam’s Early Access program and released it to the world of steampunk fans. If you enjoy murdering fishpeople, or being terrorized by them, this is the game for you.

Clockwork Empires is available for macOS and Windows, and is on sale for $27 until November 2nd, when it goes up to $30.