4/4 Free Fire Fandemonium.

Time for a post April Fool’s Day edition of Free-Fire Fandemonium. I can say that Josh Allen, has agreed to write guest articles for the blog every now and then, and graciously gave up some of his time to get the monthly shenanigans done. Let’s get to it!

DY: It’s time again for another edition of some Free-Fire Fandemonium. Joining me as usual is my partner in gaming crime, Josh Allen of Gamenikkiinexile.. did you manage to survive the Fool’s Day without too much hassle?

JA: The trick to surviving the Fool’s Day is hibernation. That, and video games. If you’re too busy playing to read news…

DY: In my case, the pranks were PUT in my video games. Bah!

JA: That’s what happens when you play “special” games, Foz.


Xbox One (point 5), PlayStation 4 (point 5), Nintendo NX (point?)

Enter.. The Xbox One.Five, or the One. Six.. or?
Enter.. The Xbox One.Five, or the One. Six.. or?

DY: Well, on to some more foolish things. We know that Xbox One is planning some kind of upgrades, and Wii U is being short circuited, with the NX rumored to be out before Christmas, but Sony is getting into the mix. There’s rumors, that Sony will not deny, or indeed comment publicly on that are talking about a possible “PlayStation 4.5” with 4K movie support. Has this console generation fizzled out before it started?

JA: I think Nintendo shot themselves in the foot by trying to preserve the Wii “brand.” When you rely on casual players, confusion is bad. As for the other two, I’m not sure what to make of the rumors. What I’ve heard on the Xbox One just seems like a monumentally bad idea. The PS4 sends like it’s more targeted toward 4K, as you mention, and VR.

DY: It’s almost like a 100M dash, where you call them back halfway through and tell them that there was a false start, but now everyone is going to run a 400 meter race instead.

JA: Not sure it’s a short circuit so much as a prep upgrade. At least it’s not that deplorable modular business Microsoft is flirting with.

DY: The problem is that you already have companies going “I don’t know where the limits are”, and now they have to program so much more.. do they “future proof” their games by making them 4K able? Seems to me that they should be BUILDING momentum, and all of a sudden, everyone drops the clutch and there’s parts of the engine everywhere.

JA: See, the way I look at it is, what if ps4 had supported 4K from the word go? You’d have the same questions. That’s different from, say, video card differences or included hard drives. You’re not splitting the market with that the way Microsoft did last generation and seems to want to this generation.

DY: Yeah. I know we touched on it with the Xbox One thing when it was announced, but it now seems like the locked in hardware targets for bringing the best out of the games is now a moving set of goalposts. I mean, do we know ANYTHING about the new Nintendo system? ANYTHING AT ALL? And with Xbox One/Hololens/modular whatsits and Playstation VR/4.5, it feels like we’re grasping at straws.

JA: I think part of that is because there hasn’t been much yet to define this generation. What stands out to you on each console, in terms of exclusive software? Sony has sold a buttload, and Microsoft a pantsload, but it’s been on potential, largely.

DY: I mean, there’s not THAT much exclusive there, most of it is timed only, the only thing that comes to mind right now that is definiteively on one system and not the other, is first party-ish titles like The Order: 1886 (I originally typed that as The Odor, which probably is a good descriptor of how it went over) and MLB 16 on Sony, and things like Quantum Break on Xbox One.

JA: Nothing iconic. Yet. That makes it easier to hit the reset button. Uncharted 4 isn’t out yet, which means they can use that to drive upgrades. PSVR may release around the same time, which…same. PS4 owners don’t have a lot vested in the console yet.

DY: I guess we can look at E3 as a possible “re-introduction” to the current generation of hardware, and to see where things end up from there.

JA: Xbox One: brought to you by Mitt Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch.

DY: Oof.

Oculus Rift and Steam versions of Project CARS don’t play nice

Oculus Rift

DY: Speaking of console wars, this caught my eye the other day. PC Virtual Reality is going through its own version of console wars, as it was revealed that Oculus Home users of Project CARS couldn’t play in games with people playing on Steam.  This is the LAST thing that a burgeoning market needs, a split that serves no one, am I wrong here?

JA: Forget it, Jake. It’s the PC market. When HASN’T it been split? To paraphrase Roy Rogers, “I don’t belong to an organized gaming community; I play PC games. “

DY: You’ve never had to deal with those “PC Master Race” types then.

JA: Who’d want to? I play games for enjoyment, not to feel superior to those who have less than I do. If I wanted that, I’d vote for Trump.

DY: (And just think folks, only seven more months till the election!) I  think this is more dangerous for Occulus Home then Steam, really, as Steam is Virtual Reality platform agnostic, and well, it’s ubiquitous. Even if the Occulus Rift is the biggest VR seller in PC’s, that’s still not a very big pond to splash around in with a closed ecosystem.

JA:  Say, there’s a VR killer app waiting to happen: virtual political rallies!

DY: They call that Gamergate I believe.

JA:  It’s about ethics in VR compatibility.


Nintendo takes a Step Back from the Treehouse?

DY: Annnnd that’s a not so subtle way to transition into probably the most.. disappointing news bit of the past week, where Nintendo fired a member of there Treehouse marketing group amid complaints from GamerGaters. The Gamergaters (I was going to call them GG’s but eff that, I’m not conflating them with Jet Set Radio) are claiming a major scalp, while Nintendo says it had nothing to do with their complaints, just that she was working a second job “not in compliance with Nintendo’s company policy” Does anyone win here?

JA: Supposedly it had nothing to do with the protests, and everything to do with her having a second job. But they’re going to claim that scalp, and double down. That’s the larger issue. It doesn’t matter who’s “right”. The Gaters will claim victory and try again with another prominent female exec, at Nintendo or elsewhere. Directly or indirectly, Nintendo validated them.

DY: And in latebreaking news, they’ve swung into action against another developer… as they are going after Beamdog software for having A) a writer include a transgender character in their Baldur’s Gate expansion, Siege of Dragonspear, and B) claim that they write to encourage diversity.

JA: Okay, so maybe it won’t be a female target. But Nintendo just did the equivalent of sliding ISIS a cool billion and claiming they did no such thing.


Final Fantasy XV: The Game! The Movie! The Flamethrower! (Kids will love dis)

If you're thinking I came up with the title of this section specifically to use a Spaceballs graphic.. you're right!
If you’re thinking I came up with the title of this section specifically to use a Spaceballs graphic.. you’re right!

DY: Let’s talk about something completely different to get that horrible taste out of our mouths. Final Fantasy XV now has a release date, and a big name cast doing a movie, but not playing those characters in the game. It… almost seems like Square Enix are trying to do TOO MUCH to hype this as a BIG EVENT. Are we setting ourselves up for another Final Fantasy:  The Spirits WIthin debacle?

JA: FF is their bread and butter. They need it to get back to event status.

DY: True. I’m not sure that what I’ve seen FEELS like that big event though. Maybe there’s only so many times you can break new ground with a series until it feels like “Wait, how did we get here from Four Generic Heroes You Name saving the World to THIS?” Would what we’ve seen been so big if it DIDN’T have that title carry it?

JA: Unlikely. You know what it seems like?

DY: Please don’t say Shenmue. Please don’t say Shenmue.

JA: The franchise creator left to start his own studio (Blue Dragon came from that), and the franchise has suffered since.

DY: True. They’ve gotten so caught up in the MYSTIQUE of “Final Fantasy is a BIG EFFING DEAL” (TM Joe Biden), and gotten away from what made the Final Fantasy series so great.

 JA: That’s one way of putting it.
DY: Maybe that’s because we’re the grognards now, as well.. “In our day, our characters didn’t have sixteen million polygons! They were lucky to have six letters in their name!” 
JA: Well, that, and Square-Enix suffer from George Lucas disease a little bit. “I have the toys to make pretties? That’s where the budget goes. What story?”
DY: And conversely, “I have the pretties to make toys, to make the budget back! Who needs story!”
JA: Right?
Mass Effect Andromeda possible Plot leaks:
DY: Speaking of creeping sequelitis.. So, the plot for Mass Effect: Andromeda was leaked this week, and it promised that mankind was colonizing a distant part of the galaxy, “Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way, where players will lead the fight for a new home in hostile territory—where WE are the aliens—opposed by a deadly indigenous race bent on stopping us.” Now, taking this with a grain of salt, because it was from a marketing survey, and because we are like a year from release, that sounds a bit likely a retread of American history here. A rather uncomfortable part of it, at that.. Considering the.. problems with the Mass Effect 3 ending, do you have faith in BioWare to tell the story well?
JA:  Colonialism isn’t unique to American history, for one. For another, I think the issue was less the ending and more that the lead writer for Bioware, Drew Karpyshyn left. Different writer for third act, as a result.It’s tough to change in midstream that way. Doesn’t mean the new writer can’t write. It means…how do you wrap up someone else’s epic?
DY: True. But now we’re seeing a mass exodus of writers AGAIN, a year away..
JA: Perhaps, but better now than six years and two games in. I think it’ll be fine.
And Finally…
Idiot Ball

DY: And finally… Sometimes I think you and I were born 20-25 years too early.. as UCal-Irvine has announced recently that they will be offering scholarships.. in eSports. Is this another case of “Oh, California, you so wacky!” or are we going to see the eSports version of the NCAA forming soon?

JA: There’s money in eSports. Where there’s money, universities aren’t far behind. Interesting codicil on that, Irvine is where GameSpy was based back in the day.
DY: So you’re saying the ground may be salted and poisoned for generations to come? (sorry, visceral reaction to seeing GameSpy after all this time having forgotten them)
JA: Nah, just saying that I’m kinda amused by the coincidence. And it’s never too late to go back to school, Foz.
DY: I’m trying to figure out what the eSports version of the Triple Lindy from Rodney Dangerfield’s movie is.