C’MON STEP IT UP PODCAST SPECIAL: THE XBOX ONE ANNOUNCEMENT

The Xbox One has been announced! And…well, I rather not say more. Just listen to this special episode of ‘C’mon, Step it Up’ and find out what we think.
Download the MP3 here: https://archive.org/download/CsiuXboxOneSpecial/CsiuXboxOneSpecial.mp3

Articles mentioned:
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/408116/microsoft-xbox-one-pre-owned-plans-consistent-with-way-the-world-works/

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-not-backwards-compatible-with-360-discs-xbla-purchases/

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-may-require-game-installs-close-out-used-game-market/

Music provided by Bleepy Bloopy
http://bleepybloopy.bandcamp.com/

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. SNEAK PEAK (UPDATED WITH ACTUAL SNEAK PEEK)


Update: After tonight’s season finale of “Once Upon a Time”, we got a better look at what to expect with this show. I think that man jumping from the building could be Luke Cage AKA Power Man. No clue if we’ll be seeing any of the heroes from the movies, but one can dream.
From YouTube description: “Get your first look at “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” starring Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson and coming soon to ABC!”


So the ‘Agents of SHIELD’ just got greenlight for a season on ABC. This show will be in continuity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yea, Agent Coulson lives. Enjoy these seven seconds of the newly confirmed show!

LAN GAMING IS IN DIRE TROUBLE

LAN gaming is downplayed too often for the success of games. It was vital to the success of Doom in the 1990s, and until recently it was how PC games were played in tournaments. Even on consoles, the original XBox’s allowing of LAN multiplayer made Halo a lasting franchise. Yet now developers that had previously included the option are ditching it in order to fight piracy; the result is a game that will be completely dead as far as multiplayer goes once a central server is removed.

I’ll start by blaming Starcraft 2, the Call of Duty franchise, the Battlefield franchise, and the numerous Defense of the Ancients clones. Both the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises started requiring a dedicated, non-LAN server for games; the LAN club at my university had people that would play the game, but we would never have the full room involved. Call of Duty was already shunned (we were PC gaming elitists), but Battlefield, a game that was known for it’s large player battles, was never played officially once Bad Company 2 hit (although we played it a lot on our own time). We reverted back to playing UT2k4, TF2, and CS:Source instead. Old games do get old eventually though, and nothing could prepare LAN events for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2/League of Legends.

Starcraft was played often along with Warcraft 3. It was common for one person to even get a Diablo 2 speedrun going in the middle of a day-long LAN party. They were loved games, and when Starcraft 2 launched it nearly killed LAN events for one of the largest universities in the USA.

It’s worth mentioning that removing LAN capability was a great anti-piracy measure. It killed the need for anyone to pirate it in the first place. Piracy happened at a LAN party unofficially. No one was allowed to talk about it, but if you didn’t have a game you just needed to speak up; someone would get it to you and get it working.

Starcraft 2, and after it Diablo 3, proved that you could force players to be online always to play with eachother and not suffer sales. Any boycott, same with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield, would be ignored once the hype train arrived. It not only didn’t involve LAN options, but it was one of the most competitive games to date. The original game is/was a national sport of South Korea. Starcraft 2 almost killed my LAN club in everything but name only, and this is university that hosted the CSL Grand Finals in 2012.

It wasn’t just the DRM that Starcraft 2 incorporated, but it was the very competitive nature that made it popular. LAN parties were now segregated between SC2 players and everyone else; rather than try something new, or attempt to get a free game like Savage working, one game would be played all day. People stopped showing up as SC2 player took officer positions, because what’s the point of going to a LAN if you could play at home? Dota 2 and LoL only exacerbated tensions further. LANs that used to include over 100 diverse players were now down to 20-30 at most.

One of the disgruntled members started holding private LANs with a vast array of classic games, but anti-piracy gave him a headache at least once very LAN party. Westwood has been the worst (defunct) company so far; Nox has problems with the latest GOG version, and Red Alert 2’s anti-virus has completely broken it. Westwood Online would be the other option, but with the company gone it’s a non-option. These games are hardly viable any more because of the anti-piracy measures, and no one wants to give money to the IP’s current owner for supporting similar measures.

Anti-piracy and DRM effectively killed the multiplayer aspect of these games. Nox eventually worked, but only because someone grabbed an older version of it.

LAN gaming needs to be brought back. Valve has done a good job of keeping it in CS:Go. Smaller companies like Tripwire have been great about including it their games; if you haven’t played on a hacked (over six players) Killing Floor server at a LAN party, I actually recommend it (you’ll probably die due to the lack of perks, but it’s a great amount of fun). A few of us still enjoy the larger releases, but without LAN play they’re severely lacking an aspect that made the previous games fun. Diablo 3 hasn’t been played once. A Use-Map-Settings creation from Starcraft: Brood War is preferred over it’s sequel. Red Orchestra or Battlefield 1942 is played over 3.

EA is already facing troubles for it’s measures against gamers. Blizzard and others can’t survive on good name only. It’s not just LAN gaming on the line in the end. It’s games surviving their decade, and the consumer being able to actually use their purchase. The latest Sim City release is the biggest example of the horrific troubles of anti-piracy DRM; if EA ever went the THQ/LucasArts/Atari route, it’s doubtful they’d pull a Relic and incorporate the game into Steam. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 set that precedent for EA. When the companies fall, their games will too. All because a person may pirate it at a LAN, and they might derive joy from the multiplayer without paying for it.

tl;dr: DRM and anti-piracy is bad and evil. LAN games are fun, and you should buy them even if you ignore my rant.

SPRING SEASON ANIME IMPRESSIONS: AKU NO HANA

Yeesh! That’s all I could say after watching the first two episodes. Before anything, I have to talk about the animation style used in this anime adaptation based on the manga. Lurking the web I can tell that several fans of the manga are totally against the rotoscope animation utilized in this psychological and angst driven story. Actually I don’t think it’s the rotoscoping that’s the problem but actually the execution of it. Movies like Heavy Metal or Fire and Ice used rotoscoping beautifully, the attention to detail of each frame being carefully drawn out mimicking the exact performance of the live action actor. In Aku no Hana the animation quality seems a bit lack luster with a lot of skipped frames which sorta looks more like an amateur art school project. But I feel like it’s animated this way for a reason. The atmosphere of the anime that gives off a very off setting vibe mixed with these visuals that just make you feel uncomfortable was what the studio intended. Not only do the characters experience a form of disconnect from the life they live in but we the audience get to experience that first hand with both the animation and the overall creepiness one gets from watching this.

Alrighty then it’s plot stuff time! Aku no Hana is a doozy of story, it follows the life of Takao Kasuga. He’s somewhat of a bookworm spending a lot of his middle school life reading books in class. He doesn’t read typical middle schooler books but rather reads literature based on the Symbolist movement, particularly Charles Baudelaire and his book Les fleur du mal(The Flowers of Evil) which is where the story got its name from. Now I’m not big into literature nor am I familiar with the Symbolist movement, but the gist of both stories is that they try to embrace the dark side of humanity. This isn’t however some kiddy Tim Burton-esque interpretation of dark themes but rather just a blatant demonstration of the darkness that resides in all of us. Moving back to the plot, Takao being heavily influenced by the decadent works Baudelaire, he is placed in a usually comical situation. He stumbles upon his crush’s P.E. uniform one day after school while he was alone looking for something he left in their classroom. Since every story needs a conflict,a starting point and a relevant motive to the plot to instigate such behavior Takao ends up taking home the uniform. Mentioned earlier, these types of situations in anime are usually comical in nature but this story takes a more dark approach to a somewhat juvenile mistake. So not only is he conflicted with taking the uniform but he also gets caught by one his classmates, the strange Sawa Nakamura. To put it bluntly she’s an anarchist. She hates authority and doesn’t mind blackmailing Takao into doing her bidding. So far that’s all that has happened, Takao gets caught by Nakamura and then the two of them form a contract. And if you’re a fan of a particular anime, you would know that forming a contract with someone is usually a bad idea.

*SPOILER ALERT* 

Well to wrap things up, I’ll just tell you all what happens at the end of the 2nd episode. So after forming a contract together, Nakamura orders Takao to meet her after school in the school library. The conversation before hand was that Nakamura was going to help Takao apologize to his crush Nanako Saeki for taking her uniform, you know in order to clear up his conscience or something. So what ends up happening, not only does Nakamura and Takao show up but so does Saeki. Apparently Nakamura went and told Saeki that Takao had something to say to her. Just like a deer in headlights Takao freezes up and is unable to speak. To make him feel more uncomfortable, Nakamura ends up shoving him towards Saeki where he ends up bumping his head into her chest. The episode ends with Saeki walking away in shame.

*SPOILER END*

The story builds up really slowly and in retrospect is uneventful at the start. But after reading the manga immediately after watching the first two episodes, I gotta tell yah, you’re in for quite a clusterfuck of things to come. Mentioned earlier I talked about the creepy atmosphere evident in each episode, the creepiness factor is amplified at the end of each episode thanks to the ending theme.

On a side note:

What is the darkest themed anime you’ve ever encountered? I know there are a lot of anime that sensationalize themes like gore and the like. I’ve yet to encounter an anime that goes into the depths human psyche in a very human way. Most of them approach it metaphorically but here in Aku no Hana its more of a first hand approach. ’til next time my few readers.

LAN GAMING IS IN DIRE TROUBLE

LAN gaming is downplayed too often for the success of games. It was vital to the success of Doom in the 1990s, and until recently it was how PC games were played in tournaments. Even on consoles, the original XBox’s allowing of LAN multiplayer made Halo a lasting franchise. Yet now developers that had previously included the option are ditching it in order to fight piracy; the result is a game that will be completely dead as far as multiplayer goes once a central server is removed.

I’ll start by blaming Starcraft 2, the Call of Duty franchise, the Battlefield franchise, and the numerous Defense of the Ancients clones. Both the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises started requiring a dedicated, non-LAN server for games; the LAN club at my university had people that would play the game, but we would never have the full room involved. Call of Duty was already shunned (we were PC gaming elitists), but Battlefield, a game that was known for it’s large player battles, was never played officially once Bad Company 2 hit (although we played it a lot on our own time). We reverted back to playing UT2k4, TF2, and CS:Source instead. Old games do get old eventually though, and nothing could prepare LAN events for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2/League of Legends.

Starcraft was played often along with Warcraft 3. It was common for one person to even get a Diablo 2 speedrun going in the middle of a day-long LAN party. They were loved games, and when Starcraft 2 launched it nearly killed LAN events for one of the largest universities in the USA.

It’s worth mentioning that removing LAN capability was a great anti-piracy measure. It killed the need for anyone to pirate it in the first place. Piracy happened at a LAN party unofficially. No one was allowed to talk about it, but if you didn’t have a game you just needed to speak up; someone would get it to you and get it working.

Starcraft 2, and after it Diablo 3, proved that you could force players to be online always to play with eachother and not suffer sales. Any boycott, same with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield, would be ignored once the hype train arrived. It not only didn’t involve LAN options, but it was one of the most competitive games to date. The original game is/was a national sport of South Korea. Starcraft 2 almost killed my LAN club in everything but name only, and this is university that hosted the CSL Grand Finals in 2012.

It wasn’t just the DRM that Starcraft 2 incorporated, but it was the very competitive nature that made it popular. LAN parties were now segregated between SC2 players and everyone else; rather than try something new, or attempt to get a free game like Savage working, one game would be played all day. People stopped showing up as SC2 player took officer positions, because what’s the point of going to a LAN if you could play at home? Dota 2 and LoL only exacerbated tensions further. LANs that used to include over 100 diverse players were now down to 20-30 at most.

One of the disgruntled members started holding private LANs with a vast array of classic games, but anti-piracy gave him a headache at least once very LAN party. Westwood has been the worst (defunct) company so far; Nox has problems with the latest GOG version, and Red Alert 2’s anti-virus has completely broken it. Westwood Online would be the other option, but with the company gone it’s a non-option. These games are hardly viable any more because of the anti-piracy measures, and no one wants to give money to the IP’s current owner for supporting similar measures.

Anti-piracy and DRM effectively killed the multiplayer aspect of these games. Nox eventually worked, but only because someone grabbed an older version of it.

LAN gaming needs to be brought back. Valve has done a good job of keeping it in CS:Go. Smaller companies like Tripwire have been great about including it their games; if you haven’t played on a hacked (over six players) Killing Floor server at a LAN party, I actually recommend it (you’ll probably die due to the lack of perks, but it’s a great amount of fun). A few of us still enjoy the larger releases, but without LAN play they’re severely lacking an aspect that made the previous games fun. Diablo 3 hasn’t been played once. A Use-Map-Settings creation from Starcraft: Brood War is preferred over it’s sequel. Red Orchestra or Battlefield 1942 is played over 3.

EA is already facing troubles for it’s measures against gamers. Blizzard and others can’t survive on good name only. It’s not just LAN gaming on the line in the end. It’s games surviving their decade, and the consumer being able to actually use their purchase. The latest Sim City release is the biggest example of the horrific troubles of anti-piracy DRM; if EA ever went the THQ/LucasArts/Atari route, it’s doubtful they’d pull a Relic and incorporate the game into Steam. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 set that precedent for EA. When the companies fall, their games will too. All because a person may pirate it at a LAN, and they might derive joy from the multiplayer without paying for it.

tl;dr: DRM and anti-piracy is bad and evil. LAN games are fun, and you should buy them even if you ignore my rant.