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What Could Have Inspired Detroit: Become Human? August 30, 2018

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In 2012, developer Quantic Dream, hot off the heels of releasing the PS3 classic Heavy Rain, released a tech demo their next game engine using PS3 hardware. It was called KARA and was never intended to be made into a full game. If you haven’t seen the KARA demo, you can watch it below.

After it released, the public would not stop talking about the KARA demo. Something about Kara’s brief story just clicked with mass audiences. When I was a kid I was fascinated by classic science-fiction stories, and it’s clear that KARA‘s Director, David Cage, was also inspired by them. However, by 2010, not too many people were talking about robots in popular culture. They had a good run with fantastic films like Blade Runner, but there just wasn’t much going on with robots in fiction after the terrible Will Smith movie bombed. In fact, one of the only other Robot-related pieces of media I remember at the time was a review Noah Antwiler did of a Robots game from the 1980s. It was based on Issac Asimov’s novels and was played in your VCR.

While the Robots game was old and required obsolete technology to play, Noah was pretty complementary to the game. After seeing the game for myself, it’s not hard to see why. They hired decent actors to be in the game, the budget was decent, and they were adapting one of the best science-fiction stories ever written.

If there was one thing to take away from Asimov’s books was that all of his robots were covered by three laws:

  1. A robot may not harm a human or through permissive action allow a human being to come to harm.

  2. A robot must obey a human’s orders unless an order conflicts with the first law.

  3. A robot must protect itself at all times except when doing so conflicts with the first two laws.

These laws have since reached a legendary status. Many fictional stories released after I, Robot, such as the James Cameron film Aliens, would feature robotic characters governed by similar principles. The character of Bishop the android (played by Lance Hendrickson, an actor who ironically also appears in Detroit) mentions his newer android components prohibit him from doing harm or through permissive action allow harm to come to a human being. Sure sounded like James Cameron and Asimov were on the same page.

More recently, it seems the HBO series Westworld has made its own impact on popular culture. Based on the film directed by Michael Criton, Westworld told the story of a robot-staffed theme park where guests could live out their fantasies free of risk. Without spoiling anything, the player can come across a pirate-themed amusement park in Detroit staffed entirely by androids. HBO’s current series seems to take place after the events of the first film, and its themes match closely to the themes of the Kara demo. Both works ask the same question, can a robot really be alive?

Quantic Dream would go on to release their final game for the PS3 in 2013, Beyond: Two Souls. It wasn’t as well received by critics as Heavy Rain but I thought it was a great game regardless. Quantic Dream would make a full game based on the Kara short story, and Detroit would go on to be released Summer 2018 for the PS4. Many fans consider it to be the greatest game Quantic Dream has released to date. Its writing parallels the best of the Science-Fiction genre with the issues of the day.

While most people will make immediate parallels to Caves of Steel, you can’t completely discount Westworld’s influence in the game. That combined with the game’s highlight of the world’s ongoing issues with human rights makes for a game that will stand the test of time. If you’re interested in some extra viewing here’s a few nods to some of the great work I came across while researching this essay. If you want to hear specifics about the original book this story was based on I recommend watching SF Debris’s review of The Caves of Steel.

If you haven’t seen the original Westworld film, I recommend seeking it out. Barring that, Oliver Harper has done a fantastic retrospective on the film. While he only briefly talks the HBO series that shares its name, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it had in common with Detroit as I saw his breakdown of the film.

Detroit: Become Human is out now exclusively for the PlayStation 4.


Things to Watch While Waiting for Spider-Man PS4 – Part 1 August 28, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Things to Watch While Waiting for Spider-Man on PS4.
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We’re days away from the release of Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 and we have been going stir crazy in anticipation for its launch. If you’re like me and you’re planning to play it at its midnight launch, the time you’re spending counting down for that clock to strike twelve must be agony. So if you’re a fan of Spidey, how do you pass the time? Well, we’ve spent a lot of time scouring the internet looking for the best independently produced Spider-Man videos, and we’ve found a lot of great ones.

First off, we’re going to be featuring the work of Linkara. Host of Atop The Fourth Wall, Linkara has kept an incredible comic review series going for years. Most of the time he reviews horrible comics, but every once in a while he’ll feature a great comic or talk about the history of a classic franchise. Each year, he’s agreed to look at a new Spider-Man comic, and we’re going to feature some of our favorites.

First off, we’re going to highlight his review of The Greatest Responsibility. The reason I like this review is because it’s for a comic that is just the epitome of the 90s. There are so many stories from that time that centered around this new concept of Virtual Realty (VR) written by writers with barely any understanding of the actual technology.

Next up is a review he did for a mini-series that took place during the Clone Wars, Planet of the Symbiotes. In it, Spider-Man, Ben Reilly and Venom travel to Venom’s home planet to try to avert a full invasion of earth.

Those are some of our favorite reviews but I know you’re going to want to see his review of One More Day. If you really want to see his review of One More Day, go here.

Next up I want to highlight the work of comic reviewer StorytellerSKJ and his series Unrepentant Geeking. I first became familiar with his channel when he posted a review of the six-issue Spider-Man miniseries, Sins Past. It is considered to this day to be one of the worst Spider-Man stories ever written, it’s artwork has endured as memes and despite its out of character plot twist that was meant to have a huge impact on canon, as of the time that video was posted the twist’s enduring consequences have been mostly ignored by the main Spider-Man mythos.

He really does go quite mad while reviewing this awful storyline, but I cannot stress how great it is to hear his analysis of why Sins Past was a failure at nearly every level. It clocks in at nearly two hours to watch in total, but you’ll be hanging on it every moment.

Next up, we are going to take a closer look behind the scenes of the Spider-Man movies. While most people remember the first time Spider-Man appeared in the incredible 2002 film Spider-Man, most people don’t know how difficult it was to get that film on the screen, or all the studio interference that happened after the films started coming out.

Anyone interested in behind the scenes news about films and filmmaking should immediately check out the YouTube Channel Midnight’s Edge. They’re a fantastic source for news and analysis on upcoming films. I first became aware of them while they were covering the production of the atrocious Josh Trank directed Fant4stic (which they pronounced “fant four stick”), and stuck with the channel after that story wrapped. They’re huge fans of the genre and have covered a multitude of subjects ranging from The Phantom to the ongoing issues with the Star Trek license.

In this three-part video series, they covered the entire saga of bring Spider-Man to film. The first part involves the early plans and false starts that took place before the events of the 2002 film. Part two covers the development drama behind all the Spider-Man films Sony has released to date, and the third part covers the missteps Sony was planning to take trying to build their own Spider-Man cinematic saga. It’s a great watch and I recommend grabbing some popcorn before settling down to watch it in one go.

Even after watching this three-part video series, I still have pretty high hopes for the upcoming Sony film Into the Spider-Verse, despite the fact that Sony still won’t release their trailers on YouTube in 4K.

I just realized I spent a lot of this article devoting time to highlighting videos that showcase the worst of Spider-Man. Normally I would not have done that if the videos I featured weren’t so darn entertaining. Let’s focus on some of the positive next time shall we?

Spider-Man is coming September 7th, 2018 exclusively to the PS4.

Most Demanded Spider-Man PS4 Bonus Suits July 21, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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San Diego Comic-Con 2018 (SDCC 2018) is in full effect this weekend and talk has been huge about the upcoming PS4-exclusive game Spider-Man. We have been waiting a long time for this game, and with it only just a few short months from release anticipation could not be higher. However a very specific set of questions about the game have been flying around SDCC towards Insomniac, who is making the game. The fans want to know what special Spider-Man costumes they’ll be able to unlock and use in the game. So why don’t we talk about the suits we’d like to see?

Before we get started I’m going to lay down some ground rules. Rather than list the suits by how badly we would like to see them in the game, we are going to organize the order of each suit idea into three possible categories, high chance of appearance, low but still possible chance of appearance, and next to no chance of appearance. We are not including suits that have already been announced, and that list does include the Classic Spider-Man suit, Civilian Peter Parker, Spider-Punk, Spider-Man Noir, the Homemade suit from Spider-Man Homecoming, or the Iron Spider suit from Avengers: Infinity War. I’m also leaving out suits intended for female Spider-heroes (Jessica Drew, Gwen Stacy) since that would make for an entirely separate article. We’re going to be playing Mary Jane in the final game, so who knows what she could be wearing.

With that all out of the way, let’s get started with the most probable suits!

Update: Since we published this article, new previews for the game are being published on a nearly daily basis. Because of that, we’ve had updates on new suits we did not expect to get until the game came out. Rather than leave the article as it is or remove the suits we requested if they get confirmed, we have decided that we will simply add short blurbs to this article if we get any updates on new suits. With that all said, press previews have confirmed the Scarlet Spider Suit.

Update 2: Insomniac’s Twitter feed has confirmed the Spider-Man: Homecoming/ Captain America: Civil War suit.

Suits That Will Probably Be Included

Superior Spider-Man Suit – This was Doc Ock’s Spidey suit while he possessed the body of Peter Parker. It’s a cool suit enhanced by the Doc’s intelligence for a popular storyline that brought readership up. To some people, this was the Spider-Man costume they first became familiar with in the comics. This suit is getting a big demand during SDCC 2018 so if it doesn’t make launch, there’s not much holding it back from eventually getting added to the game either in the form of a patch or DLC. Plus, the writer of Superior Spider-Man, Dan Slott, contributed to this game. It would be a nice nod to include it.

Spider-Man Homecoming Suit – This suit made its first appearance in the movie Captain America: Civil War and served the purpose to reveal to the entire world that Spider-Man is now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Homecoming suit looks like it was aesthetically based on Spider-Man’s earliest comics from the 60s, and included web-wings to help Spider-Man glide through the air, a spider-drone, and a sentient AI suit lady. If this suit design hasn’t already been outright confirmed at this point it probably will soon. Peter’s Homemade suit from Homecoming was teased in the Iron Spider DLC Trailer, so other than the fact the Homecoming suit shares a lot of visual similarities with other suits that might appear, I can’t see why they wouldn’t offer this suit in the game. I doubt we will get an interactive suit lady to talk to in-game, but if we do I’m calling her Karen.

UPDATE 2: The Insomniac Twitter feed have confirmed this suit will appear in the game. No word if Karen is included.

Miles Morales Suit – To many young people who grew up reading Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales is Spider-Man, not Peter Parker. Miles has his own unique Spider-Man suit in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, and if the trailer is any indication, that design is being carried over for the Into the Spider-Verse film. Given that Miles is going to be in the game, and with the SDCC 2018 Trailer heavily hinting Miles will have a major role in the game’s main story, it is possible we may get to use Miles’s costume in-game. Insomniac was very tight lipped if we will be able to play as Miles when asked at SDCC so I will hold off on speculation, but even if we don’t get to play as Miles he still has an awesome looking suit that would be perfect to wear.

Spider-Man 2099 – This one is really a no-brainer. Spider-Man 2099 was actually a main character in some previous Spider-Man games (Edge of Time, Shattered Dimensions) and it would be great to see his suit return in Spider-Man on PS4. It’s a cool looking costume and the Spider-Man 2099 comic series has a huge fan base. As far as I know, Marvel has no conflicting rights issues tied into it with other studios that could prevent its appearance but I could be wrong. Last I heard Sony was heavily interested in a Spider-Man 2099 solo film that would have served as a prequel to a shared Spider-Man crossover film, but no one currently knows what the status of any of those projects currently are.

Suits That Have Less of a Chance of Being Included

Scarlet Spider Suit – This was the suit Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker, wore for a good portion of one of the most critically divided story arcs in Spider-Man history. While Ben believed he was a clone of Peter, he wore a new suit of his own design. It was a bit rougher than the polished Spider-Man costume, but it did have special impact web-stingers Ben designed during his five year exodus. With the factor of hindsight in mind I just want to say I like the character of Ben Reilly and I can appreciate what Marvel tried to do with the Clone Saga mini-series back in the early 90s. The problem was it dragged on for far too long (even the creators acknowledge this) and for years after it ran, Marvel swept this story under the rug. They didn’t reprint it or offer it as a collected trade paperback, something that is now standard practice for most comic books. If you’d like to know more about the Clone Saga check out the Life of Reilly Blog. However, feelings about the Clone Saga have turned as of late. Fan support in the last few years has encouraged Marvel to unearth aspects from the Clone Saga including the Jackal and re-introducing Kaine as the new Scarlet Spider. Maybe this resurgence of interest was nothing more than 90s nostalgia, but if the Clone Saga can start getting reprinted, why not include the Scarlet Spider costume?

UPDATE: I have it on good authority (source: IGN) a Scarlet Spider costume is unlockable in the final game and will have the special ability to create decoys.

Black Suit – This suit can also be referred to as the Symbiote Suit or the Venom suit but to me it will always just be the Black Suit. This is the one Spider-Man suit that Insomniac has been getting the most questions about and the suit that they are probably the most tight lipped over. Let’s face it the suit looks cool as hell. In the comics, Spider-Man wore two types of Black Suits. The first was made from a special alien material Peter found during the events of Secret Wars. It could give Peter unlimited webbing, allow him to hide small objects like a Camera on his person, and could transform at will into civilian clothes. Once Peter discovered it was dangerous he removed it and gave it to the Fantastic Four for safe keeping. That suit would eventually break out of containment, find another owner and would transform them into Venom. The other was a non-alien suit gifted to Spider-Man by Black Cat. It had all of the cool look and none of the alien parasite side-effects. Comcast actually made a tv-length documentary about this suit’s entire comic history before Spider-Man 3 hit theaters and I highly recommend watching it if you can find it. The developers have made the point that Venom will not appear in this game quite clear, possibly due to the fact he’s getting a spin-off movie that has nothing to do with the MCU later this year.

Suits We Have Next to No Chance of Seeing

Kaine’s Suit – Kaine was a new villain introduced in the Spider-Man comics during the early 90s that was later revealed to be a defective clone of Peter Parker. Throughout most of his life he endured extreme pain, and harbored an extreme hatred of Ben Reilly. That all said, I’ve been told he returned and redeemed himself during the the events of the Spider-Island miniseries and even picked up the mantle of the next Scarlet Spider. However, his original 90s suit was just plain awesome. While it served as a technical way to stablize his clone deterioration, it looked really cool with blue highlights and a cool mask and cape. I’m going to make a call it is highly unlikely we will see this original Kaine suit as Kaine is currently too well known as the new Scarlet Spider to risk Marvel confusing new consumers with unneeded backstory to who Kaine used to be, and what he used to look like when they can just use his more current costume.

The Bombastic Bagman Suit – Without a doubt one of the goofiest suits Spider-Man ever wore in the comics. It was made with one of the spare uniforms from the Fantastic Four and a paper bag. He also had a “kick me” sign taped to his back. There is next to no chance we will get this suit in this Spider-Man game. We know the Baxter Building does not exist in this game’s version of New York (despite the fact Avengers Tower and Sanctum Santorum do), so it is highly unlikely the Fantastic Four exist in this game universe. Marvel does not currently want to promote the Fantastic Four due to rights issues that have not been resolved as of the time this is being written. Quite a shame, as this was an optional costume in the Spider-Man game for the original PlayStation.

There’s our thoughts on what suits we would like to see in the Spider-Man for the PS4, are there any suits we missed? Post a comment below and your idea just might end up in a sequel! Until next time remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Nintendo Switch Needs Media Players Now May 23, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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The Nintendo Switch has been released for just over a year, and we absolutely love it. It’s a console you can take on the go that can be played on your HDTV at home. It has great exclusive games including Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2, with more exclusives are on the way. In short, it’s perfect, and it had a great first year. So why are we posting a negative article about it? Because the console isn’t without its share of problems and while some of them will be getting fixed soon, its got a glaring problem that should have been addressed within its first year.

The Nintendo Switch tablet has a fantastic screen. It’s larger than a standard smartphone screen and has a great picture quality. Since the Nintendo Switch uses proprietary game carts to run retail copies of games, it lacks an optical disc drive. That makes incompatible with DVD, CDs, and Blu-Ray Discs. However, it does have internal WiFi and can easily access the internet, perfect for watching streaming video from services like YouTube, Amazon Prime or Netflix. However, other than Nintendo news content and a single service we will talk about later, there are currently no apps to access streaming services available for download on the Nintendo Switch. How can this be?

The Wii U offered full support for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and heck even Hulu since the first day of its release. I knew tons of people who used their original Wii consoles to play Netflix movies. My new Smart TV has next to no internal storage and even it can support Twitch, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Pluto TV and more without a streaming box plugged into it. There is no excuse for Nintendo to continue to ignore supporting these common services on the Nintendo Switch over a year after its release. Heck, the fact that it is portable is no excuse either. you can already download YouTube and Netflix apps on the Nintendo 3DS!

As of the date this editorial is being published, the only media service currently available on the Nintendo Switch is Hulu. Hulu is, in my opinion, the worst media service currently in operation in the US. You could look at our review of Hulu for the Xbox 360 to learn every detail about our problems with it, but our issues boil down to three things. When the Hulu Plus service first launched, it only offered a limited selection of its available content on its apps, forcing users to watch the majority of the content they wanted to see on a computer’s web browser. It also required paid users to view advertisements while watching content. Add to that an unremarkable selection of content, and you can see why I have no interest in signing up for the service.

Why do you think the Nintendo Switch still lacks any media applications? Post a comment below with your thoughts! Hopefully, Nintendo will make an announcement this E3 that will address this issue. If that comes, we will keep you all posted!

Five Games That Were Never Made and Should Have Been April 27, 2018

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In this day and age, so many bad games are getting released into the wild. While many of them are bad due to publisher interference, others are bad due to bad management, rushed development, and bad design. What hurts the most is the factor that while bad games like Aliens: Colonial Marines exist and can be played by anyone, far more deserving games linger only in development workstations, untouched, their projects long cancelled.

What incomplete/unfinished projects are we missing out on? I have a few games in mind that I would love to hear more about. Join me as I tell you the story of certain games which have not been released, and why we are missing out by not having them.

Daikatana 2 – Yes, Daikatana was going to have a sequel, in fact it was designed to spin off an entire franchise. We know the project was in development because of a one-line mention of it in the book Masters of Doom by David Kushner. It was going to be developed by Human Head and use the Unreal engine. Not much else is known about the game, and no screenshots or video of it is currently known to exist.

I will admit that I played the PC version of Daikatana to completion. Granted I was playing it with the 1.02 patch installed, which removed the controversial save gems and prevented allies from being crushed by doors. While the AI remained as bad as reviewers said it was, something about the original game charmed me, and I would have enjoyed seeing what the future held for the characters. Sadly, poor sales of the original game as well as critical reviews calling it the worst game ever put out any hopes of its sequel ever seeing the light of day.

This is a real shame because I think Human Head was a really talented studio. I considered their 2006 game Prey as one of the best games on the PC. I heard most of their ideas ended up in the PC game Rune but as far as I know to this day nothing of Daikatana 2‘s development ever surfaced. If you want do your own detective work and track down more information about this project John Romero would be the best lead I can think of for this one.

Earthbound 64 – Lots of hype on this one and some footage exists online, but it was never released. This would have been not only a sequel to Earthbound, it would have been a fully 3D RPG on the Nintendo 64. Earthbound 64 would have been a launch title for the Nintendo 64’s 64DD expansion had it come to the west, but when the 64DD was cancelled in the West it was expected to ship in a large capacity N64 kart.

So why did it get cancelled? Eventually the game’s delays hurt the project to the point where Nintendo quietly dropped it. As far as I know development didn’t get too far on this one before it got cancelled but thankfully the project was restarted for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) as Mother 3…which was for no decently explained reason released in Japan only. Here’s some footage of the game taken at a Nintendo 64 preview event.

While Mother 3 was eventually released on the GBA, I have to admit I love the 3D art style on the Earthbound 64 demo. I’ve no further leads on this one except to check out the fan page for footage and possibly background information. No demo cart is currently believed to still exist.

Pimps at Sea – This will be a brief one, Bungie used to tease a game during the years they spent developing Halo games called Pimps at Sea. It would have been a game where you played a pimp who sailed the ocean in a pirate ship. No footage exists as far as I know but it would occasionally be name dropped during interviews with Bungie staff, including Marty o’Donnell. We don’t know for sure if this was a real game, it have just been a joke among Bungie employees.

Alan Wake 2 – Every single day on the Remedy forums somebody asks Remedy to announce Alan Wake 2, so I know if I don’t include this one I’ll get tons of comments on this article asking why it wasn’t included. This game may eventually come out so Remedy will be tight lipped about it. Alan Wake 2 would continue the story from Alan Wake. A side character named Clay Stewart, the same guy who “died” in Alan’s dream at the beginning of the first game, interviews Alan’s friends to try to piece together what happened to the ill-fated writer who trapped himself in the dark place at the end of the first game. Alan, meanwhile, tries to find a way out of the dark place and discovers his ability to “write” reality to his advantage. Footage of a demo of the game exists online, and you can take a closer look at it right here.

Looks great, doesn’t it? Sadly, none of the major game publishers were interested in it. Microsoft became more interested in a game concept which would eventually get released on the Xbox One as Quantum Break, which I personally enjoyed. Most of the ideas for it went into the XBLA game Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. I know it is selfish for me to mention this game, but I feel more people need to talk about it. Remedy posted this footage with the hope to swell fan support for it, because I think if enough people demand Alan Wake 2, publishers will want to back it.

SiN: Episode 2 -I’ve talked about the development of the SiN Episodes for a few years on this website. SiN Episodes were developed by Ritual Games, with a business plan intended to cut publisher influence out of development. Instead of making one game, they developed a game in parts, with the intention to fund further episodes off the profits of the previous parts. Nine episodes were planned to tell a cohesive story, with a resolution to each arc happening after every third episode. Not even Telltale Games was that bold, and they were the one game studio to survive the episodic gaming purge. Valve Software threw their hat into episodic gaming around the same time and we all know how that turned out.

All we know about Episode 2’s plot comes from the real-time cinematic that begins after defeating Episode 1’s final boss. Forgive the poor quality, this was the best capture I could find of the scene on YouTube. The trailer starts at the 3:40 mark.

Emergence ended on not just a cliffhanger, it ended on an enormous cliffhanger which was intended to kickstart an enormous gaming franchise. However, when profits for Episode 1 were not as high as expected, Ritual sold the company to Mumbojumbo who essentially absorbed them. All development on the episodes ended then and there. As far as I know, no actual development time was spent on any further episodes past Episode 2, but some development was done on Episode 2 before Mumbojumbo pulled the plug on it. It would be nice to see these games return in some form, but with each year that passes that is looking less and less likely.

What did you guys think of this list? Did I leave anything out? Post a comment below with your thoughts and if you have any personal insight you can give on any of these projects don’t hesitate to contact me!

What You Need to Know Before Buying the Xbox One X February 8, 2018

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If you’re an Xbox One owner who bought a brand-new 4KTV and are interested in upgrading to the Xbox One X console, you’re in good company. Here’s some information current Xbox One owners should know before making the upgrade to the Xbox One X.

  • The Xbox One X does not support the Kinect. It does not have a Kinect port in its rear nor does the Xbox One X include a Kinect-to-USB adapter in its package. Microsoft is no longer making Xbox One Kinect/USB adapters, and since all Kinect adapters they did make have either sold out or been given away, it is very unlikely you’ll ever be able to use the Kinect with the Xbox One X.
  • You still need access to a high-speed internet connection to activate the Xbox One X and install the most recent system update. Once the initial setup process concludes, you do not need to remain online to play disc-based games.
  • The Xbox One X package does not come bundled with a microphone-equipped chat headset. You’ll have to pay an extra $25 dollars for one if you don’t already have one.
  • Not all games have their 4K content included on disc, older games may require patches to support the Xbox One X. Your console will install 4K updates automatically from the internet when applicable.
  • If you already use an external Hard Drive, you can use that drive on the Xbox One X, provided you are using the same Xbox Live account on both consoles.
  • If you don’t use an external Hard Drive, you can transfer the data from your old Xbox One console to the Xbox One X. Microsoft recommends enabling a new feature in your original console’s settings menu called “prepare for 4K”. This will download the 4K Xbox One X patches to your original console before doing the data transfer. You won’t be able to make use of the 4K patches on your original console, but it should save you some time downloading the content on your new console later.
  • You can always redownload any purchased games and DLC on a new console, provided you sign into it using the same Xbox Live account you purchased the content on.
  • There is no need to back up your game saves. Your most recent Save Games will download automatically from Xbox Live the first time you start the game on your new console.

Hopefully these tips helped you out! If you have any more tips you think should be included in the list feel free to post a comment below!

You Will Be Missed – Miiverse February 7, 2018

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When the Nintendo Wii U launched back in November 2012, it featured a novel social media component which took full advantage of the Wii U’s unique touch screen controller. The service was called Miiverse and it was a completely free social network for Nintendo players to share their thoughts about the latest games. It was a great service which even got ported to Nintendo 3DS systems and PC.

When Miiverse launched it was everything I could ever have wanted in a social network. Like any forum, users could post their thoughts in text form, but thanks to the Wii U gamepad’s touch screen, users could also publish original art just as easily. Since this was a service for all-ages, Nintendo did a decent job moderating the service from publishing anything obscene. Miiverse felt to me like an incredible social network that was the exact opposite of Facebook. Players could get together to share their thoughts, art and screenshots on every Wii U game (and some 3DS games) as they played. It was glorious.

Before we get things started I just need to make one thing clear, I hate Facebook. That website is an utter privacy nightmare that runs like it is held together with chewing gum. To me, it spat in the face of the original rules of the internet, and only serves as a method for the il-informed to spread nonsense to their friends and family. Miiverse on the other hand embraced what it was, a place for gamers to share their love of Nintendo and gaming.

But there was more to Miiverse than just its social media component, the ‘verse was a haven for creative fan art. Sometimes, Nintendo would do things with that art, like how they managed the community features of Splatoon’s occasional Splatfest!

So with such a successful service that seemed to do everything right at launch, why would Nintendo choose to shut it down? Was it too successful or were cracks starting to appear in Miiverse’s foundation? The answer is complicated.

I think the first cracks started to appear in Miiverse’s foundation when Nintendo changed their moderation policies for absolutely no reason. A year after the service launched, all users received a restriction on how many times they were allowed to post per day. For those of you who don’t use social networks, limiting posting is usually a penalty moderators will impose on new users, or users who had violated a community rule. Nintendo never provided the community they created a decent reason why they chose to treat all the users keeping their community alive like they were on probation, but it certainly rubbed me the wrong way. Thankfully other Nintendo fan communities started to rise up around the same time Nintendo imposed these rules, and I moved on from Miiverse.

Eventually, Miiverse’s time appeared to run out. Miiverse support was not included with the Nintendo Switch, and the Wii U was getting harder to find on shelves. When I say Miiverse will be missed, I say I will miss it the way it was originally designed. Until then I’ll be keeping my eye out for the next great Nintendo fan community.

Apple Needs to Change Their Code Redemption Policies September 1, 2017

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Apple is one of the most successful companies in the world and in my opinion they make the best smartphones and tablets on the market. They’re also a petty, jealous company with a track record which occasionally could be considered anti-consumer.  It was because of their strict control on software publishing in the 90s that most third-party game publishers and software developers wouldn’t port their games to the Mac, and this lack of software support essentially handed Microsoft the win in the Operaring System Wars of the 90s.  Now that Apple has discontinued offering optical disc drives with new Macs and created their own proprietary digital marketplace to publish Mac software, it doesn’t look like much has changed with Apple philosophically, and now it looks like Apple is willing to push the bounds of that control even further.

All legitimate iPhone and iPad software can only be downloaded through Apple’s digital iTunes and App Store marketplaces. For limited-function personal devices, this has a lot of benefits.  Apple can guarantee the safety of its marketplace and ensure that the vast majority of software it is selling will work on your device and won’t harm it with malicious code.  If software slips through the cracks or breaks compatibility with their devices over time, Apple can also pull that software off the market so new users won’t have to worry about spending money on software that doesn’t work.  The upside of this to Apple is that Apple takes a financial cut of every monetary transaction made through their App Store, and a cut out of every in-app purchase.  This works pretty well in most cases for both the company and the consumer.  On the one hand, Apple makes some money to finance and maintain their marketplace and ensure they keep making new iOS devices, and the consumer can be sure their financial information is being credited properly.  Now let me tell you about a case where it doesn’t work out well for me, and I’ve gotten pretty mad about it.

When the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online app was first released for the third gen iPad, I saw it as a big opportunity. For years now, The Pokémon Company has offered free digital codes that their players can redeem for in-game items, booster packs, and theme decks.  Until recently these codes could be easily redeemed in any version of the Pokémon TCG Online app, but the functionality was removed from the iPad version a year ago.  At the time it was removed, The Pokémon Company announced the decision to do it was not theirs, and was being done because of new rules Apple had made for developers. A year later, the functionality still hasn’t been restored.

Two months ago, I downloaded a new Pokémon Go update and started using it in my local mall.  While playing at the mall while my girlfriend shopped there, I noticed the Sprint store in the mall had become a Pokémon Go Gym. As I investigated the Gym’s sponsored information closer, the Gym badge said if I went into the Sprint store I could be given a free download code for in-game goodies.  Not wanting to pass up a freebie, I went into the store and asked one of the clerks about it.  The nice salesman at the store told me about Sprint’s Pokémon Go website, and it peaked my interest.

Sprint was an official sponsor of Pokémon Go, and they had been giving away Pokémon Go promo codes to people who came to the store. He was willing to give me one, even though I wasn’t even a Sprint customer, but when he saw I was using an iPhone 7 to play the game he embarrassingly told me that the codes would not work with my device.  The reason why, he explained, the codes wouldn’t work was because the Apple version of Pokémon Go doesn’t have a code redemption feature even though the Android version does.  This is true, in fact it is listed on Pokémon Go’s official support site.  The Sprint salesman was really sorry about it but I told him not to worry, it wasn’t his fault.  This sure didn’t sound like something Niantic would do by design, and I’m prettty certain Apple’s App Store policies are the reason.  Knowing Apple’s track record for pulling stuff like this, I was really nice to the Sprint salesman and thanked him for his information before leaving.

Several months later, Niantic hosted their inaugural Pokémon Go Fest, which did offer exclusive in-game content to their attendees.  It looked like Niantic got around Apple’s code redemption restriction by giving attendees QR codes that, while not unique, could only be redeemed at one of the event’s specific PokéStops!  This identifier came in very handy when they had to issue in-game refunds to their attendees.

If I owned an Android phone I probably would have participated in Sprint’s Pokémon Go promotions, but it’s clear Apple wouldn’t allow iPhone owners to earn Sprint rewards.  Quite a shame as I appreciate Sprint offering things like Lucky Eggs and Pokeballs to people who came into the store. Stores like GameStop are able to offer codes for in-game unique Pokémon on the Nintendo handhelds, why can’t Sprint, a store that sells iPhones, be allowed by Apple to offer in-game promotional codes!

There’s no question that Apple has the right to define the terms of service on their digital marketplaces however they want. However I would like to remind them that their direct competitors are, in this case, much more consumer friendly than they have been. These are the same consumers who might consider buying an Android tablet or smartphone instead of an iPad or iPhone when they are selecting their next personal device.  The fact they can’t redeem digital codes in the apps they use regularly on your devices (and only your devices) could be a reason for them to weigh when buying their next smartphone or tablet. The oldest rule in business is as long you take care of your customers and provide a better experience than your competition, you have a better chance of getting their business again. That rule seems to have been forgotten in today’s day and age.

I don’t know why Apple has chosen to leave myself and a large amount of Pokémon Go’s players out in the cold, but I’d like to know Apple’s reasons.  I tried contacting Apple’s App Store via Twitter several weeks ago to confirm this policy and to ask if it would be reversed but I received no reply.  Since Apple would not comment I guess that leaves my next question to the community.  Have you had a similar problem redeeming codes for specific platforms? Comment below with your thoughts.

How to Improve Pokemon Go Fest August 29, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Earlier this summer, Niantic celebrated the one year anniversary of the release of Pokémon Go. They invited players from all over the world to join them in Chicago, IL for Pokémon Go Fest, a one-day event where trainers could get together in real life to complete exclusive challenges for epic prizes.

It may sound great on paper but by all intents and purposes, the event was a failure.  Players couldn’t reliably connect to cellular or WiFi sources at the event, rendering the game unplayable for most of them.  In the end, refunds were issued to everyone who went, and most players ended up having fun creating social connections outside of the official events.

Why did the event fall apart?  Poor planning.  In the US, its become inevitable that when you host a major convention anywhere, the cell service in that area is going to fail.  One would assume with the massive profits the cell phone companies are making all of them could provide all of their customers a reliable service that works consistently, but they can’t.  Creating a major event that entirely relies on cellular service working is a recipe for disaster.  They also weren’t equipped to handle the massive influx of people who signed up, even though they knew in advance how many people were going.  Players with tickets to the event still waited two to three hours just to get into the park.  This caused headaches for attendees who missed out on early events due to the fact ticket lines were moving so slowly.  It wasn’t a great first impression for paying ticket holders.  Surely, there had to be a better way.

Here’s a better solution for the next time Niantic decides to do a Pokémon Go Fest.  The planet is a big place and seven billion people live on it, why don’t they host multiple events across the world?  That way, players all over the planet could have the opportunity to participate regardless of their location or financial status.  The concept of hosting a major event to celebrate fandom is hardly new, that’s what events like ComicCon and PAX are for, and there’s always room for more events like it.

I know it’s expensive to run designated events all over the planet but there are solutions to that problem. The host could choose to build official facilities with decorations at each location, but there’s no need to if they don’t want to.  Perhaps local businesses in each designated play location could choose to sponsor the event and pay for decorations.  This would boost their profile, and companies like Sprint and Starbucks were already on board to sponsor Pokémon Go.  From what I heard, Sprint ended up getting a lot of positive publicity from sponsoring the Pokémon Go Fest, as they were one of the only cellular providers that actually functioned during the event.

By spreading out the event worldwide, it solves nearly all of the problems Pokémon Go Fest suffered from. With fewer trainers in a single place, the cellular networks would be less likely to buckle under the strain of people trying to use it at the same time.  It would also mean shorter lines and briefer wait times for things like ticket redemption while still allowing local trainers to communicate in real life.  All in all, it’s a win win.

So would this have been a better option than the Pokémon Go Fest we got?  Post a comment below with your thoughts about how you would improve the event for next time!

Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS devices.

My Favorite Pokemon Go Memory August 1, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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After the details emerged about what happened at the Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago last month, I thought the time was finally right to talk about my favorite Pokémon Go memory.  Pokémon Go officially released on SmartPhones and Tablets a year ago, and there have been plenty of ups and downs over the course of that year.  As news about its release spread like wildfire, the app saw an unbelievable amount of users in its first week.  Pokémon Go developer Niantic was unprepared for the game’s sheer number of simultaneous players for at least a month after the app was released, and because of that the app was unable to support all the people who just wanted to use it during the day.

I had started playing Pokémon Go the second it was released in my region and because of that I had a tiny leg up over the newer users.  By the end of the app’s first week I had already gotten my starter, visited some PokéStops, and caught a handful of Pokémon in the wild.  Due to the program’s instability during this period, that was about all that early players could hope to accomplish.  However, while the program was completely broken during the daytime, it would actually work at night, precisely when the app tells its users NOT to use it.

Playing Pokémon Go at night wasn’t a big deal to me since I’ve been a night owl for as long as I can remember.  In fact, my late night gaming sessions have lead to some of my favorite gaming memories, and I’m going to tell you one of those stories right now.  One night during the first month of Pokémon Go‘s operation, I was hanging out with my friend who I still need to refer to as the Unknown Cameraperson. I had been running low on in-game supplies and I needed some extra PokéBalls for the game. It was late and we weren’t far from the center of town, so I figured there had to be some PokéStops in the area I could use to fill up on supplies.

We pulled into a public parking space and I turned on the Pokémon Go app.  We were in luck, I discovered there were at least five PokéStops and a Gym in the town green. Then as my friend and I entered the public space I noticed the park was completely full of people playing Pokémon Go.  My town green would normally be empty most days of the year, and here we were.  It was past midnight in the park, and that didn’t seem to matter to all the young people playing Pokémon Go.  My guess is that was probably the first time that park was full since my town was founded!

As I walked through the diverse crowd of people I smiled, my whole life I had to go online to find peers who shared my interests.  Now, as an adult, I discovered people from my town were interested in gaming and the proof was all around me. 

As I looked around at the PokéStops surrounding the park, every one of them had been connected to a lure module, increasing the probability of random Pokémon encounters for anyone near them. In essence, not only were the park’s patrons there to play, they were working together to make the game better for each other!  To me, that gesture speaks volumes about the merits of gaming as a social activity.  At its core, Pokémon games have always been a social experience, and twenty years later that experience still endures.

The Unknown Cameraperson and I completed a lap around the park and visited all the PokéStops within a safe walking distance.  Eventually, Niantic improved the connection issues with the app, and I’ve been able to play the game during the day for quite a while.  However, I’ll never forget the sight of so many people working together on my town green…all for the love of Pokémon.

Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.