My qualms with this generation’s PC gaming
I used to be a big PC fan, but lately my attention has largely centred around console games. Back then we had our Starcraft, Tycoons, Age of the Empires, Sims, Counter Strikes… these games, for the most part, didn’t require a super machine to play. Accessibility seemed more important then than it is now for PC game developers. The PC has evolved into this amazing piece of software, arguably the most powerful gaming platform with endless possibilities.
To be fair though, game developers also have more capable platforms to work with. So accessibility no longer means within one platform - it means the ability to make games look, play and run the best over the span of multiple platforms because console hardware can now keep up. This of course reaches larger audiences… but in a different way.
I think my affinity towards console gaming stems from an equal playing field. People’s set ups around the world are pretty much identical. TV, console, controller and you. Sure, there are deviations with the kind of TV you have or the speed of your connection, but for the most part… offline play anyway (okay.. sandbox games too, but you know what I mean), everyone essentially has the same experience. With the PC, they have gaming keyboards, mice or headsets, gaming computers or laptops, and then within those you have your graphics cards, sound cards or RAM. Now brings in the issue of “can your computer run this game smoothly and not burn itself to a crisp?”
I’m currently using the laptop my brother bought 3 years ago because it can run more games than my old laptop that I bought just under 2 years ago (I couldn’t even run Mass Effect). My laptop is constantly on top of a cooling fan, (the old one too… but run Starcraft II for more than 45 minutes? *tsssss) so that removes the portability aspect of my laptop. I can’t run games like Batman: Arkham City or Skyrim… see, at least if a game is released for a certain console, I know that I’ll be able to play it. I have a computer, but there’s all this extra stuff I have to know about before I should even consider buying games.
So then we have sites like “Can You Run It?" which gives you a list of games to choose from, pick the one you’re searching for and the site will run a diagnostics on your machine, telling you if you meet the basic requirements for running that game at its lowest settings. It shows you on a gradient scale, so that you can also see if you can run the game on its highest settings.
Where do I think things will go from here? PCs will only get more and more powerful. Their capacities and memory storage will continue to grow. On the console front, they’ll mostly be playing catch-up with the PC. I think they’ve given up on that though, and turned it into a war amongst themselves. “Who can create the coolest, more expensive new toy that everyone will drool over?” sort of thing. I don’t worry about the PC gaming industry though… the public constantly wants more and better and faster, so it’s not like PC developers will be making power-draining games so fast that people can’t catch up with their hardware. At least with consoles, you’ve got a 5-10 year turnover period before each company starts churning out another generation.
I do think that this makes console gaming a little more attractive to the less loyal, fanboy heavy gamers though. So maybe that’s the most dangerous part for the PC gaming industry.
EDIT: Of course, for the most part I’m talking about more mainstream games. There are a lot of gold nugget indie games, and those pretty much work for any PC you can guy today… however, they don’t draw in as much revenue as the big game stuff, making them somewhat less of a player in their power to dictate a platform’s future.
My experience volunteering for Video Games Live - Toronto
I still remember the moment when I saw the ad on tumblr about VGL looking for volunteers. I thought, “whoever gets this opportunity will be a lucky SOB… I’m gonna go for it.” I bookmarked that page and started a draft application in my email so that I’d be reminded every day that I needed to get it done. The application was due on Feb. 15 and we were told that we’d know no latter than Feb. 28 whether we’d be volunteering now. So I spent a week on that email and fired it out to VGL on Feb. 14. March rolled around and I still hadn’t heard anything from anyone so I figured I didn’t get it, which I was cool with. Instead, I’d pick up some tickets with my brother or some friends and go see it.
A week and a half before the event, I get an email from Mike Tallarico, brother of Tommy Tallarico and Merchandise Manager for VGL, requesting an email from me if I still wanted to volunteer for the event. You know me, online 24/7, so I answered that email within 5 minutes of receiving it. Unfortunately there was a grammar mistake so I’m afraid I didn’t make a very good first impression >_>
So, about half a week before the day (May 2, 2011) I get another email from Mike with instructions on when to be at the venue. 3 if I want to watch the rehearsal, but no later than 5:15.
Monday, I wake up early to get some errands done before getting my brother to drive me to the bus stop. I get there around 2:30, so I decided to walk around Eaton Center before heading to Massey Hall. When I get there, I call Mike, and he comes to grab me from the stage door to introduce me to Cesar Solorio, his friend who also does merchandise. Outside the venue, I meet Kendrew Heriveaux and his buddy Walter, the two singers who would perform Civilization IV’s Baba Yetu later that night.
After introductions, Cesar hands me an All Access Pass and I’m told to go up to the hall, grab a seat and watch rehearsals because they’re about to start.
I make it in time to see them set up lights!
One shining ball of light!
Two shining balls of light!
Three shining balls of light!
Four shining balls of light! Ah ah ah.
I thought this was really sick
Then they started rehearsal! Here are some of the videos I took:
Chrono Trigger - This one’s for you, Eryn!
Civilization IV - Unfortunately I only caught the end of this one…
One Winged Angel
God of War III
Street Fighter II
I only got the end of Civ IV because I was too busy taking pictures >_> In hindsight, I wish I took a video of this.
And finally, this is what spectators would walk into the hall to:
By now, it was 4:45 and no one had come to get me yet, so I had half of my sandwich and then whipped out my DS to play Mario Kart for a couple of minutes. After I completed to Cups and no one still came to get me, I went downstairs to see what was happening.
Here, I met Evan! He was the other volunteer who’d be working alongside me. I was wondering where our team was… Anyway, he’s playing Halo: Reach, and we exchange our hellos, and he tells me that the other two people on our team were no shows, so we’d have to make-do with just the two of us later that night. Did I mention the room we were in was totally kick ass?
The windows booth, they had a bunch of people here handing out fliers for some kind of prize.
Hahaha! I finally got my hands on one of these babies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find one of those 3D sim cards that I could play with, I did make a mii and stuff though. My verdict? It’s heavier than my DS lite, the buttons are really nice, not really a fan of the colour scheme and the 3D is pretty cool, though not mind-shattering. I also moved it around to see what all the fuss was about having to hold it in front of your face at this “sweet-spot”… yea… I can see how that’d be a pain after a while.
Dance Central and the Kinect! You can also see Halo: Reach to the right.
Sony PS3, Socom 4 and Mortal Kombat!
Evan was in charge of the ballot box station where people would fill out little sheets of paper and then Tommy Tallarico would draw their names out of the box on stage. They’d win a Kinect, 3DS, PSP or PS3… people got pretty intense, luckily no one got violent and there was a lot of security around.
Since we were shorthanded, I was in charge of the cosplay Contest as well as the Guitar Hero Contest. I was pretty bummed I didn’t any pictures of the cosplayers. There was a totally decked out Master Chief, two Links, a Ganondorf, a Luigi, a Toad, some Splinter Cell dudes as well as other character I can’t recall at the moment.
At the Guitar Hero station, people lined up to play Van Halen’s Jump on expert. They’d write their names down and then I’d record their score… if they finished. I believe out of the 15 or so people who tried the contest, only 6 completed the song. Bryon won with 228k points! Yea, no one else really came close to touching him. People started to funnel into the seating area and I took the sheet to Mike and Cesar. Cesar showed me how to get back stage, since I’d be waiting for Bryon at intermission to take him back there. There I met Tommy! Cesar then thanked me for my help and told me to go find a seat on floor level and enjoy the show.
I took one video before my battery crapped out! I didn’t even get the end of it -_-“
Civilization IV - Baba Yetu
Here are more pictures though!
Tommy during Megaman!
Martin Leung. aka Video Game/Blindfolded Pianist~! aka my gaming pianist idol. I had no idea he was going to be there! He played a Final Fantasy medley as well as his blindfolded Super Mario medley as well as a separate Super Mario Medley. Made me so happy.
Laura Intravia - Amazing classically trained vocalist and flautist. Also a music arranger! She was the female vocalist for several of the pieces that night. She also performed her famous Flute Link act for us on stage!
Master Chief also ran on stage at the end of Halo.
Tommy with his badass Steam Punk guitar with built-in sniper rifle! Bad. Ass.
Tommy also called a guy and a girl on stage and he proposed to her in front of all of us! It was pretty amazing haha. Tommy and the guy had been talking for a month prior to the event and had her pretty tricked =b
There was also an on-stage Frogger competition between a 30 year-old guy and 21 year-old girl. The guy did not know what Frogger was when he signed up and was promptly booed by everyone in the room lol. The girl demolished him and Tommy says, “Let it be known that on this stage, in Toronto, a girl beat a guy at video games!” lol
Intermission came and I waited by the Guitar Hero booth for Bryon so that I could take him backstage and show him what to do. Backstage was pretty hectic. Lots of the musicians were late showing up to the stage after intermission so people were being ushered. Bryon and I kinda stood there for a while, and then Tommy came by to give him instructions. I took that opportunity to take this:
I went downstairs and waited for the cue and when it came, lead Bryon center of the floor level and he got called up and rocked out with Tommy =]
I found my seat from earlier in the show and just watched the rest of a really awesome show.
We ended off with the promise of cake. Instead, we got group singing and a DS, PSP and cell phone party.
After the show, Evan and I hung out downstairs by the merch table and when the line for the meet and greet died down, we lined up for our chance to meet the performers, get our pictures taken with them and get some stuff signed.
Martin Leung and I ^^
Tommy Tallarico and I - too bad it’s a little blurry
Emmanuel Fratianni’s signature - conductor
After we said our goodbyes to the team, Evan and I hopped onto the subway and made our ways home. I don’t think I ended up getting in bed until like 2, but man. What an epic day.