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How Game Developers Are Dealing with Piracy

May 24th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Guides

Piracy is a major issue in video gaming and some game developers have had enough. Piracy is the act of owning and using a video game without actually paying for it. There have been many versions of video game piracy over the years and they are all technically illegal. The digital age has led to many technological advances and unfortunately for the video game industry, people have learned many ways to steal video game content and play those games without paying. The gaming industry however, has come up with an answer and many game developers are putting that answer into effect.

In an attempt to weed out piracy, some developers have come up with ingenious ways of stopping pirates from playing or at least keeping them from enjoying their games. The developers of the popular game Operation Flashpoint Cold War Crisis have come up with a great way to deter would-be pirates. During game play, the pirate will begin the game with weapons that work normally. Throughout the game however and as they advance to higher levels, those seemingly normal weapons begin to be less effective and the player will begin to take on higher and more fatal levels of damage.

In Grand Theft Auto 4, another very popular game, developer Rockstar has implemented a very simple method for teaching pirates a lesson. Whenever a copy is determined to have been pirated, the camera in the game will begin to wobble after just a few moments of beginning the game and will not stop which makes it virtually impossible for the player to continue. Rocksteady, developers of Batman Arkham Asylum have made it impossible for pirates to play as well. When a pirated copy is detected in this popular game, Batman is unable to use his cape which means he cannot glide. This makes it very difficult for players to win the game because there are many sections that require Batman to glide using his cape.

In Serious Sam 3, pirates will find themselves face to face with an immortal enemy when they pick up the gun in the first level. If they do manage to outwit the red scorpion and continue on with the game, they will have only a couple more levels before the camera will lock completely into a position that has their characters spending the remainder of game play running in circles without actually going anywhere.

And finally, EarthBound’s developers, Starmen.net, have copy protected their games from piracy by making enemy encounters much more frequent and difficult in the game, which makes it nearly impossible to complete. If a pirate does manage to get through the slower than average game to the end, it will freeze in the last few minutes and delete the entire file.

These are just a few examples of how game developers are beginning to fight back against piracy. There are other developers that are doing similar things to ensure that their games are purchased legally as they should be in order to be played.

Popular Myths about Video Games

May 17th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Guides

There are many myths concerning video games and game playing that have many parents wondering just how safe it is for their children to be gaming enthusiasts. Over the years, many questions have been raised about video games, their design and their overall impact. Some of these myths are still being researched but many have been proven to be untrue. They are nothing more than mere speculation by those who are not considered “gaming friendly”.

One of the most popular myths concerning video games is that the market exists solely for children. This is completely untrue. There are many, many games on the market today that are designed for play by adults. Nearly 63 percent of the entire gaming console market and more than 65 percent of the computer video game market consist of players who are older than 18. The gaming industry in general does cater to adult players and there are a number of parents who are either not familiar with or simply ignore the ratings that are placed on games to protect children from playing something that is not appropriate for their specific age.

One-fourth of all children who are between eleven and sixteen years of age and who play games play M rated games which are designed for mature audiences. These games often contain language or situations that are not appropriate to be viewed by children yet parents tend to ignore these ratings and allow their children to play them anyway. Many gaming companies have taken the initiative to better inform parents of these ratings and why they are in place so that children are not playing games that are not designed for them.

Another myth involves gender of gamers. Many believe that it is the male gender that is most focused on the video game industry in general. In truth, there are actually a few more females than males that play video games online. Men still play more than women on gaming consoles but even those numbers have changed substantially over the past few years. Game developers began designing games in the early 1990’s that appealed more to the female population and today, many women prefer first person shooter games and online games like World of Warcraft.

Finally, many feel that video game playing can be socially isolating. This again, is simply not true. Studies have shown that more than half of all gamers who play frequently play with their friends. Xbox 360 and PlayStation consoles allow for gamers to connect with their friends and if they have the same games, they can play online together. Even systems that are not connected to the internet help to foster social interaction. Studies have also shown that nearly 40 percent of all gamers play with siblings and nearly 25 percent play with a spouse or parent. Games that are designed for play by just one person can also be socially engaging as many share the controller or offer advice to one another during play. Many games today are designed for multiple players and even if the gamer does not have friends playing online, they can still interact with other players by using headsets and other devices that are designed to further foster the social interaction of game play.

Most Popular Console for Online Gaming

January 31st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Guides

Online gaming, previously viewed as strictly the domain of PC gamers, has increasingly become a determining factor between consoles. With vast differences in available features, games, infrastructure, and cost, choosing an online gaming platform can be tricky, but as long as you have internet access you have plenty of options to choose from. In order to find the system that is most suited to you, it is important to analyze what features are most important, and what each system provides.

The Wii:
The Wii is the least advanced in terms of its online capabilities. While it does offer a large selection of apps, or channels, the crown jewel of the online services are the game downloads. With nearly 400 games across 11 different systems, ranging from $5 to $15, the wide selection is sure to provide something for everyone.

As for actually playing the games, the Wii falls flat by comparison to other current generation systems. The games do not connect over a standard infrastructure, so developers must come up with a different system for each game. Voice chat is not supported between games or even within a game, and text communication is severely limited if available at all. These limitations coupled with the low population of online gamers playing Wii games, the limited amount of games available, and the incredibly large amount of modded (modified in order to allow the player to cheat or access the game for free) games makes the experience incredibly unsatisfying.

The PlayStation 3:
The road to the current online offerings from Sony has been a long one fraught with outages, security compromises, and poor service. Luckily for gamers everywhere, the service has dramatically improved to the point where there is now an actual discussion between whether or not Xbox Live or the PSN is better.

Where PSN gains a large advantage over its competitors is cost. The free service offers access to many of the same apps that come with Nintendo’s online offerings and Xbox Live (Netflix, YouTube, etc.), but it also offers a full web browser and access to all of the online multiplayer gaming that you can stand. The PlayStation Plus service (which costs $50/year) has many additional features, but the one major draw that no other service can match: A free selection of recent games.

Since there is either no need to pay any money (if you have the games or don’t want them) for many of the services you want or you can pay still less than the cost of Xbox Live for nearly all of the same services, PlayStation Plus offers the greatest versatility and the greatest free service available for consoles.

The Xbox 360:
Xbox Live has long been deemed the Gold Standard for online console gaming. With the largest online community, the most advanced matchmaking service, thousands of downloadable games (varying from community efforts to On Demand full releases), the most stable infrastructure, and an interface that makes it simple to add new friends as you play with them, send messages, chat across games, and keep track of your friends play and accomplishments, that reputation is well deserved.

The only downsides to Xbox Live are that you must pay at least $60 for a year subscription (if you buy it all at once and there is no special) and that it does not come with the free games that PlayStation Plus does.

Verdict:
At this point, online console gaming comes down to the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3, depending on your willingness to pay for the ability to play online and your preference in games. Both are great options and you will definitely get what you pay for, either way.

Pub Trivia Games

September 11th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Guides

Going down the pub for a few drinks is something that is a favoured pastime for many however why not try and do something productive while you are there as well. Obviously the alcohol and the conversation are big parts of pub culture however with many of the pub trivia nights now taking place across the country they help to add to a new dimension to your pub experience.
Finding a pub that offers this activity is not hard either as you can easily search online and find a bar in your area that has trivia nights – indeed, many of the pubs will probably have some sort of review system as well. However, what is actually special about these nights compared to just sitting around a bar and watching sports on TV? Well for a start it encourages a great deal of interaction especially with your teammates; trying to answer some of the obscure and diverse trivia questions on your own is never a realistic possibility that is why these trivia nights work best when you play in teams. In fact, it is not just about answer trivia questions as there are also music rounds and rounds where you need to piece together images as well so, all in all, there is a wide and diverse range of things on show for you to take part in.
These trivia nights are becoming more and more popular across the country and there has been a big increase in the number of pubs recently that have been starting trivia nights for both their regulars and to try and entice new customers as well. If you have never tried one before then you should go and check it out; not only is it a fun way to pass an evening but you will probably pick up some interesting pieces of knowledge too.

OnLive vs Gaikai

September 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Guides

OnLive was the first game streaming service to really impress the gaming community, paving the way for cloud based gaming. Offering a huge array of games at a low monthly cost, gamers can stream games directly over the internet, meaning you don’t need an expensive computer to run the latest titles.
Until recently, OnLive dominated the market, but a new competitor has emerged on the scene. Gaikai has begun to offer services which are set to shake up the market. So is one better than the other? Here’s our verdict on how the services compare.
Round 1: Titles
OnLive
With over 300 titles available to play in full, OnLive has an extensive library for those willing to subscribe to the service, costing a mere £6.99.
Gaikai
Gaikai only offers demo trials of games but does this at no cost to gamers. There are plans to roll out full game support but as of yet there have been no announcements. The number of titles on offer is limited at the moment but with ever-growing partnerships and the recent buyout by Sony, expect big things to come.
Winner: OnLive
Round 2: Graphics
OnLive
On launch, OnLive promised better than console performance, though in reality this is far from true. The graphics quality is actually quite poor, looking quite blocky at times. OnLive doesn’t allow for graphic setting alterations, meaning we are unsure of the exact hardware being used at their end.
Gaikai
Gaikai offers much more flexibility in the graphics department, allowing users to change graphic settings on some titles. The terminals running the games are using a GeForce 560Ti graphics card, which is a more than capable graphics card. This comes of little surprise when you look at the screen, the performance is significantly better than most consoles, with smoother lines and clearer view of field.
Winner: Gaikai
Round 3: FPS
OnLive
Despite its low quality graphics, the gaming experience found on OnLive is impressive, never dropping below 60fps, making for a silky smooth gaming. It’s clear that the people at OnLive have prioritised frame rate over graphical performance, which makes sense when playing games over the internet.
Gaikai
The games on Gaikai may look beautiful but, when you crank the settings, you can feel a noticeable difference, with strange frame rate drops and unresponsive moments making for a far-from-smooth gaming experience. By having double the graphical power of OnLive, Gaikai have essentially halved their frame rate to make up for it, giving users on average 30fps.
Winner: OnLive
So, despite its weaker graphical performance, OnLive still offers the best overall cloud based gaming service. You still need to have a good internet connection so be sure to look around for the cheapest broadband service to get the best deals.