Welcome to the third edition of The Slim Opinion – a roundtable discussion on hot gaming topics. This time round, our bunch of writing monkeys ponder on the future of Onlive, debate whether fat bloggers are harming the videogame journalism industry, and share the secrets of their gamertag.

Also: Watch out for a bumper end of year Slim Opinion in the next couple of weeks, where we’ll discuss all the exciting, interesting and frankly boring events of the gaming year. Coming sooner than something that comes soon!

OnLive – The future of gaming?

SO Title Image

Actual Onlive screenshot with sub-par internet connection.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com:

This is a pretty tough question actually, because I do think OnLive has some cool technology working for it. On the other hand though, it could still be a great many years before we see it up to standards.

Speaking from personal experience with Onlive, it obviously has a couple of problems. Graphics do indeed take a small hit, only displaying at 720p which isn’t really too big a deal. The bigger problems are connectivity issues and a smaller catalog.

For OnLive to really take off they have to successfully give gamers access to an expansive array of games. The catalogue at this point is a healthy size, but still nowhere near the amount of games we would like to have. I’m still the kind of gamer who loves to have the physical copy of the game, with both case and manual. So inevitably I just like I’m sure a few others will always buy the hard copy of a game before I buy it digitally.

However, OnLive is a good idea that if executed well could really take off. It has the potential to be the future of gaming, but it also has the potential of going absolutely nowhere.

 

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad:

I’m really glad this question has come up actually, I’ve been a fan of OnLive for a good while now, the actual concept is amazing; you live stream the latest PC and console video games straight over the web without the need for a super PC or even a console itself.

With OnLive’s recent UK launch I was privileged enough to obtain one of their OnLive Microconsoles and have a chat with their Communications Director, Brian Jaquet about the service.

Honestly, I believe in OnLive, I can see the potential for it to become a major contender in the coming years, I don’t think that hardcore gamers are going to choose it over a PS3 or Xbox 360 at the moment but as a middle ground between the dreaded ‘casual’ gaming side of the industry and the hardcore side, it’s a perfect fit.

Currently OnLive streams at roughly 720p which, if like myself you are using a large TV screen, can look blocky and more than a bit choppy at times but what I find amazing about OnLive is that the service actually works! This is something that was dismissed as a fake and a fabricated in-industry joke when OnLive appeared at GDC 2009 (Game Developers Conference)

I can see past the occasional screen tear or network issue, we’re in the infancy of a hardware iteration, if you were to compare RAGE and Perfect Dark Zero, you’d see that the last 5 years have been very kind to the 360 platform so we can only hope for the same level development over the next couple of years in OnLive’s case.

My piece on OnLive is on my blog if anybody wishes to read it.

 

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com

I’m so glad you asked. I coincidentally happen to have just written an article about this which you can find here. Yes, I know I’m sitting on a rather large fence regarding it, so I’ll stick my neck out a little more and say that although it might not be able to compete with the 360’s and PS3’s of the world right now, in 5-6 years time, it could be hulking great beast with smelly breath that puts the major consoles under serious pressure.

So if you can’t be bothered to read the article plus what I’ve just written, then I’ll put it in more succinct terms: Yes.

 

J. Arnott “SirUltimos”, SlimGamer.com:

I wouldn’t say that Onlive is the future of gaming, but it is (potentially) the future of game rentals. The main problem with Onlive is something that’s completely out of it’s hands. The amount of bandwidth required to stream a game, and the connection speed required to properly play the game are both areas that ISPs don’t exactly excel in. North American ISPs in particular are always cracking down on service, so unfortunately this problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

Now, for rentals OnLive could prove to be a viable service. With Blockbuster in its death throes and rental chains closing left and right, Onlive has the potential the fill in the gap. If it played its cards right, who knows? It could become the Netflix of gaming.

 

Are blogs and bloggers helping or hurting the journalism industry?

bloggers

Is this guy hurting the videogame journalism industry? He's certainly hurting that chair.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com:

I really think it’s wrong to say that blogs are hurting the journalism industry. I tend to use the expression here, “the more the merrier”. Bloggers give us the potential to get another opinion on the things we really care about, especially if they are things that normal big time journalism outlets wouldn’t really touch on.

Blogs also give you the potential to really delve deep into the content you’re talking about. With a blog , you can make it as long as you want and write it how you want, and people only read it if they want to.

Another good thing about blogging, is how it can be a successful avenue into journalism. I think it’s easier than ever to get your start on journalism if you really want to, because practically anyone can start up their own blog. So in short, no. I really think blogging is a great thing and something that can really contribute. Writing is one passion that professionals and bloggers both share, so why should one side be harmed by that?

 

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad:

This seems to be a question that is thrown around every so often, it becomes the industries ‘hot potato’ where a percentage of Staff Writers will attest that independent bloggers are harming the industry and bloggers will claim that they are being ignored by the superior ‘master race’ of the Staff Writers. This is all rubbish!

We are all writers at the end of the day, we write about video games because we love to do it, some of us are lucky enough to get paid for the privilege of writing for mainstream magazines and some of us (like myself) do this more as a hobby because we have a bread-winning career in a different industry. If somebody turned around to me tomorrow and said ‘We’ll offer you £xx,xxxx a year to come and write for our magazine, I’d jump at the chance but on the reverse of that, I’m not going to wake up one morning and think to myself ‘Well, I’m still not getting paid for my work, I’m going to give it up’

I think one thing will always remain true, if your writing is good and you put it in the public domain, people will notice you, blogging just gives you a public place to showcase your work. And if a team of bloggers want to band together and create a magazine site, then good luck to them, I’m pretty sure that’s how some of the biggest and most popular video games sites started in the first place.

 

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com

Let me put this another way, does The X-Factor help or hurt the music industry?

Alright, clearly you have no idea what I’m talking about (few ever do). Let me explain. Videogame bloggers are basically auditioning for a paid gig with a magazine/ website/ wealthy oligarch in the same way Donald P. Poor from Kansas hopes Simon Cowell will sign him up to his record label. Yes, they may be passionate about what they do and willing to do it for free, but if Mr McFilthy Rich offered them a lucrative contract to blog about Ninja Barmaids 4 all day, they’d jump at the chance.

As manufactured as it all is, I believe you find genuinely gifted people on The X-Factor sometimes. It’s all about undiscovered talent. The videogame industry is in the exact same position; wade through the numerous blogs full of poor grammar, bad spelling and no imagination, and you’ll eventually come across someone who’s reviews you want to print out, bind, and proclaim a new holy text. Most of them are staff writers for Slimgamer.

 

J. Arnott “SirUltimos”, SlimGamer.com:

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should mention that I originally started off as a blogger.

Blogs and bloggers are definitely helping. Never in history has there ever been a time where opinions and information were as free flowing and accessible as they are now. From the journalist’s perspective, things are helped if only because now the bloggers can cover the stories that slip through the cracks, and the readers are helped because now they have more perspectives on any given subject than they could ever possibly need. The days of receiving all your gaming news from a single source is over and we should embrace this new journalistic landscape. At worst, bloggers have zero effect. At best, they’re one of the best things to ever happen to the industry.

 

PS Vita’s memory card – Mistake or Meh?

 

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com:

I don’t really have a feeling either way on this. We’ve been dealing with memory cards for plenty of years now so it’s not like anything new. I can definitely understand why Sony is implementing it, in order to help save themselves money. But no doubt the system will be just as cumbersome as ever. And let’s not forget the potential that this gives hackers as well.

 

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad:

Well, I can’t help bit feel a bit indifferent about this.

On one hand I can understand why Sony are doing it, shipping out new bespoke hardware ensures more of a return on their investment but also I can’t shake the feeling that if Sony implement the Vita with this new memory card then it’s giving hackers a new way into the system, so to speak. Lest we forget what happened to the PSP.

 

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com

Meh. Memory cards are so 2000. It’s not a huge mistake, but in this age of solid state wizardry and cloud based everything, the Vita memory card looks suspiciously like a step back for Sony. And that’s not even mentioning the dubloons this will add to your purchase of the console.

 

J. Arnott “SirUltimos”, SlimGamer.com:

Meh. The price is too high (a problem Sony has always had with their own formats) but it’s not likely to change anyone’s mind. If you’re firmly in Camp Vita you’ll shrug it off and buy the card, and if you’re over in the Anti-Vita Zone it’s just one more excuse not to buy one. Even if you’re on the fence I feel the memory card prices won’t change your mind; It’ll be the hardware and the games that serve as the true deciding factor.

 

Should games release their full multiplayer experience ahead of the game’s retail release?

Big Mac Secret Sauce

Would you like dies with that?

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com:

Up to this point I only know of Uncharted 3 doing this with their Subway promotion. But it seems like a pretty good idea to me personally. It gives players the chance to experience what the multiplayer is all about, not to mention giving studios some experimentation time before the game actually releases.

Now I don’t think you should just release the multiplayer for good. People should still have to buy the game when it comes out in order to play, but cheap promotions like for Uncharted 3 are absolutely brilliant. Buy a soda, get a code to play multiplayer until the game releases, I really don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad:

I’m slightly confused by this question; I’m not sure of any game that has released their full multiplayer experience prior to the game being released. However, if this is a hypothetical question then no, I don’t think it’s necessary for publishers and developers to do that.

If publishers start releasing the games in sections (releases the multiplayer in May and the single player in June) we will start confusing the market, mainstream consumers will be confused by multiple release dates and then why would publishers stop there, why not release the first 50% of their finished code in June and then the next 50% in July or even August.

If this becomes popular we are then skirting dangerously close to episodic release schedules and I think Valve have showed us that this business model doesn’t always work out so well…(Lest we forget HL2EP3)

 

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com

Like Skith, I wasn’t actually aware this was already happening. If it is, it’s not something I would necessarily be fully against. Call me a gaming wimp, but on booting up something like Modern Warfare 3, I usually have to spend 15 minutes deciding which portion of the game to play first; multiplayer, single player or Spec Ops. And I always feel a little paranoid that I’m missing out on action in one of the other modes. If Activision had released the multiplayer months before, I wouldn’t have this problem. Although to be fair that says a lot more about my fragile mental state than it does about the effective strategy of a game publisher.

If this were to become commonplace, and even morph into companies releasing full multiplayer experiences for purchase a month or two before the rest of the game, the danger would come if gamers end up being satisfied with just the multiplayer, not wanting to buy the single player portion. It’s a move that could dilute the anticipation and excitement of an impending AAA release. And in a case like Battlefield 3, where the multiplayer PWNS and the single player pretty much stinks, it’s also a sure fire way to lose money.

 

J. Arnott “SirUltimos”, SlimGamer.com:

Depends on whether we mean a full, paid release of multiplayer or just early access to a beta. A beta is never a bad thing. Not only does it give developers a chance to test out their multiplayer code and re-balance if necessary, but it gives players a chance to try out the game and build up their hype. From memory I can’t think of a single game that has been hurt either commercially or critically by releasing the multiplayer beta ahead of the main game.

Now, releasing the entire multiplayer portion separately is a mixed bag. The gamers among us who play multiplayer exclusively will benefit, by getting a (hopefully) cheaper product and earlier access to the only part of the game they’ll play. If this proves too popular, though, we may have to deal with a problem of continually worse and shorter single player portions, as well as the problem of games not being developed as a complete package.

There is room for multiplayer only games, but if they have a single player portion they should probably be released together.

 

Gamer Thumb

They banned him cos he was happy?!

How did you choose your Gamertag? 

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com:

I unfortunately don’t have too exciting of a story for this one. It ends up just being something that came off the top of my head. For about a year, every Friday my group of friends and I would get together and most of the time play some sort of real time strategy game (primarily Age of Empires II). I unfortunately always just went with my name to call my civilization, seeing as I didn’t really have a username at that point.

So one night I just wanted to come up with something that sounded cool. For some odd reason the first thing that came into my mind was popsicle, and I wanted something that said how awesome of a popsicle it was. Then I decided to add on Uber, because of its slang meaning as super. Plus I just like the ring that Uber Popsicle has really, and luckily no one happened to have it on Xbox Live!

My old gamertag though was Hayeslo. And I really don’t want to go into the incredibly stupid reason I chose that horrible gamertag…

 

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad:

My gamertag – Skith666, let me break it down for you

[Skith]

Skith was the randomly created name I chose for one of my Neverwinter Nights charcters back in the day. I only realised after creating him that I had drawn my inspiration from the video game .hack on the PS2, where the first ‘boss’ that is included in the storyline is Skeith – The Terror Of Death. So subconsciously I had taken that name, changed it in my head so that I didn’t copy the name entirely and stuck with that. It’s usually my gamertag for everything, if you Google it I’m pretty sure all the results are me. :-)

[666]

This was basically to emphasise my love of every heavy metal and hardcore rock music. That’s about it.

 

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com

When I first signed up to Xbox Live way back in 1983, I originally wanted to pay homage to what my mother always called me and use the gamertag ‘The Evil Genius’. Unfortunately, this wasn’t available at the time (which means there’s at least one other evil genuis out there. Scary.) So I sat by the fireplace of my mansion as my faithful butler went about his duties, trying to think of another name for myself.

Then, out of the gloom, a bat…er sorry, eagle crashed through my window. I immediately knew I had to call myself ‘The Eagle Genius’, which of course makes no sense whatsoever, but really did seem inspired at the time.

After trying the new name out, Xbox Live accepted it, and I was off…until I realised I’d misspelt it. Instead of The Eagle Genius, I’d entered The Eagle ENIUS. I still haven’t found where the ‘G’ went.

This was all around the time when changing your gamertag was forbidden, so I was stuck with it for the best part of a year until Microsoft eased up on the rule and I attempted to do something I should’ve learned back in primary school; spell my name correctly.

But to my horror and confusion, Live wouldn’t allow my original name. Had someone stolen it from me while I was hobbling along with my badly spelt moniker? I’ll never know. I had to try three or four variations until I came to something that worked, slapping a prefix on there for the heck of it. Hence I became the one, the only, Dr Eagle G.

 

J. Arnott “SirUltimos”, SlimGamer.com:

It sounded cool when I was 12.

I signed up for my very first forum when I was 12 years old (An RPGMaker forum). At the time I was in love with knights and the general fantasy settings that most RPGs took place in. So I decided that my online persona wouldn’t just be a knight, it would be the Ultimate knight. The best knight. I signed up using the name “Sirultimos” and have used it ever since. I’m not too fond of the name anymore, but it’s been so long and would be such a hassle to change it over across various services that I’ve kept it and continue to use the name for consistency’s sake.