Friday, August 30, 2013

Back in the Day

Back in the day...

How I've grown to hate that phrase, usually because what follows is some tale of tribulation. 

"Back in the day, we had to load Windows from floppy disks!." or "Back in the day we actually had to win a game to get a trophy!"

Well, the video above is an example of what PC gamers were doing "Back in the Day."

I've been playing around with VirtualBox (the free virtualization platform from Oracle) and some old operating systems.  Why? mostly to see if I could actually make them work and in the process force myself to get more intimate with the more esoteric configurations of the platform.

So in the process of getting Windows for Workgroups running on VirtualBox I was reminded that "Back in the Day" Windows needed DOS.  Now getting DOS to work in anybody's virtualization platform is no more difficult than getting the VM to see your installation media be it real or virtualized.  Windows was a different matter but rather than trail off onto an entirely unrelated tangent I'll just say the experience proved to be a catalyst that culminated in the video you see above.

VirtualBox is pretty forgiving for stupid mistakes.  Being a hosted platform you have direct access to most of your storage devices and mounting media real or virtual is pretty much nothing more than a mouse click away.

I was fortunate to have the foresight to make a DOS only VM to play with during my Windows adventure and that formed the basis for my VirtualBox retro gaming VM.  Other than some manipulation of autoexec.bat and config.sys and pass-through of my real CD-ROM to the VM nothing much more than digging out my old game disk was necessary.

Here's a tip about classic PC games in VirtualBox.  Turn on the VT-x option.  If you're running Windows, however, it's best to turn it off.  To get the full experience I enabled the sound driver in the VM and set it to SoundBlaster 16 mode.

Once the preliminaries were done, I loaded up my copy of LucasArt's Full Throttle (1995,) switched to the CD-ROM drive and typed INSTALL. 

Surprisingly, everything worked, even the sound configuration utility which was surprising considering how much trouble I remember having with it "Back in the Day" when I ran the game on "Real" hardware.
That's the mechanics of how I got there, now the why...

It's not that I don't appreciate how far PC games or video games in general have come in the past 20 years or so but there's something more pure about booting up an old classic. 
That I was able to revisit a classic game without scouring swap meets and Ebay for vintage computer parts was definitely a plus as well.  Thank you virtualization...

So as I found myself once again becoming embroiled in a storyline I'd been through at least a dozen times before I had an epiphany of sorts.

Why was I spending so much time and effort on a game that could make Minecraft look cutting edge?
Admittedly, the 320x240 graphics are awful by today's standards and I've seen better on a Smartphone.  

Still, there's an honesty that you just don't see in gaming anymore. 

For its time Full Throttle was a good looking game but it's real draw was a thoughtful storyline with rich characters.  It was almost like spending time with an interactive novel.  Humor, an excellent soundtrack and brilliant voice acting made up for what may have been visually lacking.

To fully enjoy it I didn't have to invest in a $1000 graphics card and a multi-core processor either.  At the time I remember the biggest concern for gaming usually centered around getting the sound card to work.  Video cards and CPU's pretty much played second fiddle.  Most games were written to take advantage of the mass market hardware that was available. 

If your computer could run Windows 3.1 chances are it had enough horsepower for the average DOS game.  Spending ridiculous amounts of money on hardware that  grossly exceeded what the game needed rarely yielded the results you were hoping for.  In some cases it made the problem worse. 

I have a friend who was very much into Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight simulator.  He found on moving to the next generation of PC that his cherished pastime had become unplayable.  I will admit, however, with hilarious effects as a once lengthy aircraft simulation was now completed in mere seconds with a recorded admonition from the game's namesake saying, "You really screwed the pooch on that one," as  an animation of your aircraft burning on the tarmac taunted you.

Now it seems that games like Battlefield 3, Crysis 3 and Metro Last Light demand 4 figures just in graphics and processor power alone.  They might work with less but you're going to be at a disadvantage. 
That's the real difference between gaming now and gaming "Back in the Day."  To get the most out of a game a few decades back meant focusing on the elements that made the game the most engaging.  Pac-Man is still popular not for its great graphics but for the way you play it.  It's about more than just painting pretty pictures 120 times every second. 

Veteran programmers who've been around a few decades will tell you how sloppy code has become with the advent of more graphical user interfaces.  They'll tell you that it's not the interface that makes the code sloppy, it's the lack of concern for getting everything you can out of a limited resource.  These days if a program needs more resources they just boost the minimum requirements instead of writing more efficient code. 

Consider this, as archaic as it is, Windows 3.1's installation took only 15 Megabytes worth of floppy disks for a complete install including the underlying DOS installation. 

Microsoft was able to take over the world's desktops with  only 11 floppies!
So are things better now? Sure they are.  Battlefield 4, Grand Theft Auto 5, Grid 2, are all brilliant games in their own right.  Unparalleled graphics, the ability to play against anyone on the planet and able to bring your PC to its knees if you crank up the eye candy.

Yet it seems gaming is less about the game and more about the competition these days.  Multiplayer gaming is a virtual rat-race and the games are just a finely rendered medium.  Instead of an escape they are the conflict.  "Enthusiast Class" hardware useless for anything but gaming has a symbiotic relationship with game developers.  More realistic blood spatters always trump a good storyline.

That's why I spend more time gaming with friends and the occasional run through an old classic like Full Throttle than worrying about Phys-X rendered flags fluttering in a fake breeze.   

"Back in the Day," it was more about the escape of playing a game than the top position on a  leaderboard.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Battlefield 4 at any price?

Take a good hard look at the screen capture above from EA's Origin service.  I want you to look closely at the price of Battlefield 3 Premium edition and the companion DLC subscription.  $35 gets you everything Battlefield 3 has to offer, DLC and all.  Oh yeah, and all the hacks, cheats, draconian DRM and surprise maintenance cycles that knock you offline. 

Now look at the Pre-order price of Battlefield 4.  The cheapest option sets you back $60, if you want a few extra goodies it'll cost you 10 bucks more.  Finally there's the Premium subscription that just like it's BF3 predecessor will set you back an extra $50.

Considering Battlefield 4 will be useless to you within weeks unless you have the extra DLC, you're dropping a C-note if you want in.  Admittedly, nobody's forcing you buy anything but considering EA's history with BF3 you know there's going to be a bias toward the "premium"  players and fewer servers available for everyone else.  So it comes down to this...

110 bucks for a game.

I'm not saying it's not going to be great with cutting edge visuals thanks to an updated game engine and new play modes.  For those of you addicted to social media, EA's even gone to great pains to give you your fix with Battlelog 2.0.  A feature they couldn't seem to stop going on about most of the summer.


110 bucks for a game...

Let's put this in perspective... If one of the new consoles is in your future then Battlefield 4 is going to set you back 1/4 to 1/3 of the cost of the thing you need to play the game on!  But at least you can win a nifty pair of gloves (MSRP $9.99) for sharing your fan mania with EA.

$60 is bad enough, $110 is delusional. 

Oh I know, I'm old and cheap.  Except that most people have to work for a living and the minimum wage in this country still puts you at poverty level.  That means 110 bucks is excessive no matter if it's you or someone else buying it for you.

 Does anyone honestly think that it's reasonable to pay more for a game than a full copy of Windows? 

I don't and if you understand the concept of value you don't either.  Well, unless you're 12 but if simulated human carnage is that important to you maybe mommy and daddy need to explain the concept of NO.

There's no game in the world that's worth more than $60 no matter how great the PhysX rendering of  tattered drapes fluttering through a broken window may look.  

EA and Activision charge a premium for so-called triple-A titles because they can but mostly because there's always some frothing fool  willing to  go along with it.  When you overpay for a game you may as well be back in 4th grade handing over your lunch money to the school bully.

A year from now when the el supremo, primo BF4 bundle is worth a third of what you paid for it and you can't resell it, I seriously doubt you're going to think you got good value for the  money.

Let's not forget that the game is being released across multiple gaming platforms including the XBox 360, PS3 and their successors.  That means you're paying a premium price for a console port designed to work on the most basic of graphics hardware.  Your new laptop with integrated graphics should be able to run it just fine albeit without all the eye candy.   Upgraded graphics and a few more maps can't change the fact that in spite of the hype, the game is designed for the lowest common denominator of the mass market.

Think about it,  110 bucks for a game that may as well be DLC for BF3, has an annoying user interface (Battlelog 2.0) and a story right out of a bad Call of Duty sequel.  EA is trying to make a case for charging more for less and in that scenario I can't see an endgame that doesn't induce buyer's remorse. 

Here's a bit of advice.  EA is bound to have dozens of sales in the year following the launch of BF4 if they follow the template of BF3 promotions.  If you want to play the game without getting fleeced, take advantage of them.  Send the message that overpriced pre-orders and triple-figure prices are not acceptable.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Microsoft axes games for PC but will you miss the point(s)?

Have you heard?

Say bye-bye to PC games on Microsoft is killing it off as of August 22nd and you have until then to redeem your Microsoft points which are going the way of the paddle controller.  Microsoft's in-game currency, Microsoft Points, is being retired in what's been described as a revamp of  the Xbox Platform

PC games purchased through will still function but it appears DLC and updates will fall to individual publishers.  Oh yeah, and you'll have to download your games to the Games for Windows Live client.

Yes  PC gamers, Microsoft has essentially given you the finger.  You're going to be forced to play your PC games via one of the most hated game portals in the industry.  Remember what fun it was the first time you played Dirt 2?  Oh the joy of corrupted game saves and denial of access because a server outage kept you from logging  in.

At least your unused Microsoft points will be worth something.  How much that is, however, is yet to be determined. 

Oh yeah, except if you don't happen to have an Xbox 360 in which case you're encouraged to "contact support" The link takes you to a nondescript form not unlike those "Send an error report to Microsoft" dialog boxes that show up when Windows crashes.

This all comes after former Steam boss and Director of Business Development,Jason Holtman, joined Microsoft this week...

Hopefully he has more in mind than the buggy and annoying Games for Windows platform. 

So there's the meat, now comes the potatoes...

Look at this...

"Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment...I think there is a lot of opportunity for Microsoft to deliver the games and entertainment customers want and to work with developers to make that happen, so I'm excited to be here."

Ok, I have a question not covered in Microsoft's FAQ ....

How do you make Windows "A great platform for gaming" when you've pulled the rug out on PC gamers?

The only thing Microsoft has ever done for PC gaming is Direct X.  The rest is just a bunch of DRM.  It's not that anyone had any great love for the PC gaming experience of but this announcement leaves PC gamers twisting in the wind.

The announcement doesn't even give a hint as to what Microsoft's future holds for PC gamers wanting to continue in their ecosystem.  It seems the only answer,  at least for now, is that you're out of luck if an Xbox isn't in your future. 

They've essentially left PC gamers trapped within a broken platform to continue to suffer it's atrocities without any recourse.  They don't even get to participate in the" revamped" rewards program!

Then Microsoft hires a former Valve exec who somehow managed to get booted from one of the most successful PC game portals in the marketplace.  By the way, he was the "Director of business Development."

Oh, that's right, he's a "marketing" guy which means a lot of happy talk with no substance, just like this week's announcement. 

It seems most of the announcements from Microsoft these days revolve around epic reversals triggered by a clueless  misreading of their markets.  I don't expect this latest transgression against their  customers to be any different.  In fact I'd wager that's going to be one of Holtman's first projects.

Maybe Microsoft is due for a round of its marketing department.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

A founder's path: John Carmack and Oculus Rift

John Carmack thinks virtual reality is the future of gaming.  So much so that this week he joined Oculus VR as their Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  In case you didn't know (and how could you not!) Oculus VR is the creator  of the Oculus Rift VR headset; the new gaming headgear designed to give gamers a more immersive experience.

Oculus VR and specifically Rift have taken priority in Carmack's professional life with Id Software now coming in second place.  I suppose it's no surprise considering the lambasting Id's taken over the delay of Doom 4 and the failure of Rage.  Lest we forget Id's parent, Bethesda, who's been turning up the heat on the developer over the haphazard progress of Doom 4. 

At last year's QuakeCon Carmack was an ardent cheerleader offering up free copies of Doom 3 BFG to Kickstarter supporters of the fledgling project.  Unfortunately the game wasn't ready by the time the development kits came out.  So investors got a copy of Hawken instead and a choice of "store credits" or a full refund of their kickstarter pledge. 

Carmack's gone "all in" with the Oculus Rift evidenced by almost every recent photo op showing him wearing the latest incarnation of the device.  Want more proof?

“I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming – the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on. Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer’s early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there. Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message. It’s certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don’t even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It’s going to be awesome!”

Carmack believes that VR for gaming is the next big thing just like 3D gaming  was in the early 90's.  He could be right.  I mean at least everyone SEEMS excited about the prospect of wearing an oversized scuba mask on their head while tripping over the sofa.

Yes it's true, 100% of people "surveyed"* are excited about the project and when they try it out 75% of them throw up immediately afterward.

That's just one of the hurdles the Oculus Rift has to overcome.  Low resolution, bulky design and limited compatibility with current games are some of the others.

That Carmack has switched gears from dodging tomatoes over Rage to cutting edge hardware really isn't a surprise.  Much like the departure of Bill Gates from Microsoft (even though he retains his chairman status) there comes a time when a founder's creation evolves beyond its creator. 

In the case of Gates he initially embraced the role of futurist (remember his book, The Road Ahead?) before settling into philanthropy. 

Founders generally aren't your standard cubicle dwelling types.  The fact that they strike out on their own instead of accepting the confines of someone else's creation proves it.  They have a vision to bring to fruition.  The creative drive trumps all other concerns.

 To hell with the TPS reports!

That Carmack has so closely aligned himself with Oculus VR is entirely within character.  It's a chance to invest his energies once again in a more creative direction than Id could provide.  Let's face it,  3D gaming may not have happened without him but 20 years later it's been done to death.  No matter how good Doom 4 is, it's just another FPS. 

Consider that dragon slain even if Doom 4 doesn't have a ship date.  I have a feeling Id was becoming more cubicle than muse for Carmack.  If his VR prognostications come to pass expect him to move on shortly after the term "VR gaming" becomes ubiquitous.

* survey respondents consist of Me, myself, I and a bunch of other people I made up from IGN posts...

Video Games as Propaganda: China's "Glorious Mission"

Propaganda isn't a new idea.  As technology advances it must evolve to ensure the message still reaches its intended target.  So it's no surprise that with wars increasingly fought by the proxy that technology affords, gaming becomes an attractive medium for the message. 

America's Army was the progenitor of propaganda gaming and is widely touted as being the most realistic military simulation available.  Of course it shows the U.S. Army (the developer) in a favorable light and is an admitted recruitment and PR tool for the armed services.

 China followed suit in 2011 with "Glorious Missions" initially only meant as a training tool for soldiers within the PLA (People's Liberation Army.)  It soon grew popular among Chinese gamers who regularly enjoy the so-called "Red Games."

 "Glorious Mission Online,"  however, takes propaganda gaming a step further than just a recruitment tool.  The game includes a new campaign mission based on a long standing conflict with Japan over a group of small islands that both countries claim as their own.

One of the most popular genres of video games is commonly referred to as the First Person Shooter(FPS) with billions made on such franchises as Battlefield, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty.  Games like these generally place the player in the role of a combat soldier in front line action against a backdrop of a fictitious war. 

While game scenarios may be loosely based on current or past conflicts, the most popular are exercises in pure fantasy.  Entertainment and possibly an outlet for pent up testosterone are the only objectives.
Glorious Missions Online, however, is blatant about its subtext. 

To "bolster national defense education"

It's disturbing not for the violence or obvious propaganda but rather for its context.  If, for example, a new version of America's Army were released with a campaign built on the premise of toppling Iran's current leadership the  result would be no less chilling.

Glorious Missions Online features Japan and its allies including the U.S. as the opponents.  It's also no coincidence that the game was released on the 86th anniversary of the PLA. 

Is it just an amusement or a thinly veiled statement of intent from a fading political philosophy?  All we can hope for is that the battles stay confined to the game.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Midagedgamer Report has been discontinued

Until further notice the Midagedgamer Report will no longer be regularly published.

Due to an apparent lack of interest and readership it's obvious to me that my energies are better put to other pursuits.  There still may be gaming related articles published but a regular weekly gaming news report won't be one of them.

Thank you to the few who showed interest but as they say, it's pointless to beat a dead horse.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

When the cloud rains or when good game saves go bad

There's been a whole lot of talk about how great the cloud is.  Now you can have all of the services that once required a roomful of servers at your office with nothing more than a fast Internet connection.

It's great isn't it?  I mean all you have to do is log on to your little PC, Smartphone or whatever and there's all your crap just waiting.  No begging the IT guys to get your deleted emails back, no suffering through "maintenance windows" and no more going to the office just to open a file.

Everything is in the "cloud" and it always works all of the time...[sic]

Except when it doesn't.  I'm in IT and I've seen the thunderstorm the cloud can cause.  Thing is, you can't get away from it.  Even if you're a gamer.

Take the popular game portal Steam.  Steam has never been easy to nail down when it comes to finding saved games, hardware setup files or even screenshots taken from within the client.  The assumption is that everything should flow from the client and nobody should go poking around the file system for anything. 
Except we have to.  Why? 

Because of the "Cloud"

Steam began migrating its entire game library to something called the Steam Cloud a little over a year ago and the results have been mixed.  While it's very convenient to always have the most recent updates to your game library close at hand no matter whose machine you're logging into the fact of the matter is it doesn't always work.  When it doesn't the results can be devastating.

Considering how far games have advanced from just a bunch of belligerent pixels to epic experiences rivaling a Hollywood Blockbuster it's no wonder that people get upset when things go awry.

In my own experience I've found that the average Triple-A title can occupy 150 to 200 hours before I'm done with it.  That's over a week of my life down the drain if my progress doesn't get saved.

And that's what's happening...

One of the more popular titles on the Steam service is a game called Grid 2.  Being a new title it was written from the outset to use the Steam Cloud.  That means nothing gets stored locally, even single player games.  That also means that if anything goes wrong with the files in the cloud or corruption occurs those files are useless. 

Steam treats cloud services as ubiquitous and infallible.  That means you could upload corrupt files and the Steam servers will happily replicate them to every other PC, console or connected device configured to use the service with your selected title.

There are ways of finding cached copies of game files but actually locating them is an exercise in finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.  Why?  Because Steam (Valve) doesn't think you need to know where they are.

But we obviously do...

There's a tired old adage that goes, "Never put all your eggs in one basket"  and if we're honest, a cloud doesn't make much of a basket to start with.

This is a gaming blog so I'm not going to offer you tips on retrieving you lost contacts from Office365  but I can give you some help in locating local copies of your saved games.  Here's a tip, find these files before something bad happens and save them somewhere else.  It's common sense but we gamers frequently ignore anything that doesn't involve playing our games.

First off, even if you don't use Steam there's a standard location in Windows based PC's to look for saved game files and sometimes Steam will actually put stuff in there too.  Actually, it's where it should be stuffing this crap but Steam has to be "different."

Look in the following directory, you may have to turn on hidden files in the folder views to see it.

C:\Users\*logon-name*\Documents\My Games   NOTE:  *logon-name* is the username you log onto windows with. 

In XP and older Windows PC's it will be more like C:\Documents and Settings\*logon-name*\My Documents\*gamename*\saves (or savegame or backup or whatever)

I can almost guarantee the chances of finding anything useful in those folders these days is just about zero, however.

If you're an avid Steam user things get more complicated but the path to glory starts at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\*********   NOTE: replace the asterisks with the 8 digit number you find in your path.  That number corresponds to your Steam User ID.  

Under that folder are a bunch of subfolders with numbers.  Each number corresponds to a game you've installed.  It's within these folders that you'll locate the local copies of Steam saved games, settings, etc.
They may be in subfolders with names like backup, Remote, local and the like.  Check Steam forums if you get lost, someone is bound to know the exact location of the files you're going to need. 

Once you find your files copy them somewhere safe and don't forget to regularly update them.  That is unless you're ok with a 6 month old saved file. 

As big an evil as EA has become in the past decade. ( I still hate them for securom) they tend to keep local copies of saved data in the standard: C:\Users\*logon-name*\Documents\My Games.  Of course they've already started copying Steam features like local copies of game installation files so they'll probably get weird too.

If you're on a Mac and a gamer, well, god bless you for your tenacity...

That said, most saved game and settings locations start out in  /Library/Application Support

Mac's tend to like to group everything together in their folder structure so if you don't find what you need in a subdirectory of the path above there are hundreds of forums that can point you in the right direction.  Some games may even let you manage your saved games from within their own interface.  Just remember that what you see in a Mac folder is really an abstraction of how things are really organized under the fluffy packaging.  It is based on Unix after all.

As for Linux, anything goes.  That may require a visit to the game's forum to find the exact location.  Steam tries to mimic the windows client folder structure, however, within the user's home folder like this:

home/*username*/.Local/Share/Steam/SteamApps/common/*gamename#/save (or whatever)

 I'll close with a couple of videos I did dealing with this exact problem of hidden saved games. 

And remember, clouds are for rain not holding eggs!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July Gaming News Wrap-up

The Midaged Gamer Monthly wrap-up for August  2013

The fireworks have come and gone and the heat of summer came on full force in the northern hemisphere.  So what happened in the gaming world?

Comic Con 2013 in San Diego brought more next gen console news, Steam's Summer sale was just as epic as ever and EA apparently thinks gamers are more interested in social networking about their games than actually playing them.

Before we get too deeply into the month that's passed, however, let's take a look at this week's news.

A few weeks back I went through my old PC game boxes and after looking at them spread all over the family room floor, decided I should do something other than just shove them back in the closet.  The resulting project turned into a video series called Gaming History by Game Box during which I held up two boxes from Lucasarts.

They were Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront 2 and at the time I described them  as being basically Battlefield 1942 set in the Star Wars universe.  So guess what, now that EA's been chosen by Disney, (who acquired Lucasarts) to develop the game properties it seems Battlefront will be coming back and developed by of course, Dice. 

All we know at this point is the game is due out in 2015 and development has just begun.  It's not a stretch to think that it will likely be powered by Dice's  Frostbite 3 engine which will be a bit long in the tooth by then.  Since Star Wars games rarely use the latest development platforms and are developed primarily for consoles, it's a good bet the new Battlefront (or Battlefront 3) will be no different.

Seems retro is a theme so far, so I'm going to go with it...

I've been waxing nostalgic lately.  So much so that I dragged out my old Atari 8-bit computers and did some Retro gaming.  Pac-Man, Zazzon and Castle Wolfenstein set fire to my Plasma TV screen and made it's speakers sound like a misbehaving R2 unit on Tatooine. 

Back in the day being a gamer took a bit of imagination and a lot of patience.  As I listened to the galloping beeps of a 90K floppy disk topping off all of the 48K of memory in my Atari 800 I was taken back to my teenage years. 

Back then, games came in boxes.  Digital delivery meant loading up a cassette or floppy and hoping for the "right" noises to come through your TV speakers.  Almost without fail, the box art was always cooler than the actual game.  I actually knew people that would throw away the games and frame the boxes.
Why this trip down memory lane?  Because of an updated version of one of the oldest FPS games predating even the first Unreal engine.  It's Rise of the Triad and now it's been re-released almost two decades after it  picked up where Wolfenstein 3D left off. 

Lots of people went to a lot of trouble to make this "reboot" of the classic title look better while staying true to the original.  From the gameplay videos and screenshots it appears they succeeded.  Well, at least partially.  The game definitely looks better but if we're honest it's on par with Unreal Tournament 3 at best.  In other words, the box art is better than the game. 

Still, if you're the type who wishes their favorite old game could get a more modern upgrade then Rise of the Triad may be worth a look.  Especially when it's only $14.99 on Steam right now. 

EA is still droning on about all the wonderful social networking features of upcoming Battlelog 2.0.  This week they were tweeting  about how you could compare your stats to others based on your geographic location.  Wow, isn't that great.  With all of EA's online "services"(battlelog, autolog) you'd think they could figure out a way to find your friends online without going through the gauntlet of their DRM and authentication BS.  That goes double when those friends happen to be in the same room!  Let's not even get into the requirement for most EA games to be online for single player!


On to last month's news...

Microsoft had a big reorganization that ended up doing little more than annoying their employees.  Windows updates don't come from the Windows division anymore and Phones have been thrown in with keyboards and Xbox's. 


Julie Larson-Green took over the reins of the Xbox.  If the name's familiar it's because she occupied one of two spots created after the end of Steven Sinofsky's rule over the former Windows division. 

She oversees the new Devices and Studios Engineering group that includes the Xbox and anything else with a button and a Microsoft logo. 

By the way, if you hate Windows 8 and the Office Ribbon you can send your hate emails to her.  She was in charge of both of them.

Comic Con San Diego was interesting this year and both Sony and Microsoft were there with their next gen consoles...

San Diego Comic Con happened and while it's no E3 the lines definitely blur between gaming and fantasy.showing off games like "Dead Rising 3" for the Xbox 1 and "Octodad: Dadliest Catch" for the PS4 not to mention Batman: Arkham Origins for PC and current gen consoles.
  Considering most of the most popular movies and television shows in the past decade have been based on comics it's no surprise that the event's become a barometer of pop culture.  Games fit perfectly into the medium and any game publisher or console maker would be remiss to ignore the event.  Microsoft and Sony have gotten the message and showed up with their next generation consoles

If you're into Cosplay and gaming you may want to think about attending next time around.

The big Summer Steam sale has come and gone but it left behind a lot of smiles...

The Summer Sale began on July 11th almost to the day it started last year.  This year's edition featured many of the same opportunities including daily, hourly and flash sales.  Voting made a return as well with related discounts generally in the 70% or better range.  . 

Also returning to this year's event was the occasional "503" error on launching Steam when rabid gamers got a little overexcited.  If it happened to you just think of it as delayed gratification.

New this year were the trading cards (badges) which are tied to (discounted) game purchases, random "drops" based on ownership, crafting of new "badges" and of course voting. 

Borderlands 2 was on sale along with most of the DLC (as of 7-12).  Grid 2, Bioshock Infinite and all your favorites were either on sale or soon would be.  Most were discounted 50% or more by the end.
The sale ended July 22nd.  If you want a hint as to when it starts next year keep an eye out for the Killing Floor Summer Sideshow Event.  It usually starts a week before the Summer sale.

That's it for this week's news and last month's as well.