Resurrected Entertainment

Archive for June, 2013

Oculus Rift VR

June 27, 2013

Thanks to a generous friend, I had a chance to play around with the Oculus Rift last night. It was a little difficult to find a machine which worked completely with the Oculus hardware, but on the third try I struck pay dirt. The machine actually did work on the first computer, but the frame rate was choppy which made the experience a little more headache inducing than the designers intended — I don’t know what caused the choppiness but I suspect the HDMI driver on the laptop may be the culprit. The last machine did not have a choppy frame rate but did produce a blur when looking around, which I attribute to the refresh rate of the device. I downloaded the Oculus Beta for Half-Life 2 and played a couple of levels. It was fun but due to the resolution of the Oculus screen, it made it difficult to read text and see the pull-down menu for weapon selection in the game.

I found the device was a little on the heavy side to play comfortably for more than an hour or so. It comes with straps which help to support it on the left, right, and top of your head. These straps and the additional padding that was added really help with the comfort level, I am not sure I would have lasted 15 minutes without them.

The device provided a really nice illusion of depth and often found myself wishing I could reach out and touch the things I was seeing. A glove often used in virtual reality movies, and the less sexy versions used in real life, would provide the ideal input device but all those cables would certainly make a mess and you really feel a need for mobility while being immersed in your 3D world. Navigating with a keyboard is cumbersome unless you are a touch typist with an appropriate keyboard; if you could see the screen when needed, it would help a lot in this department (it would at least allow you to position your fingers correctly). I was thinking some sort of external camera would be very handy which could act as a window into the outside world. It would also be nice if the device could function in normal “2D” mode and the “3D” mode when required. Looking at the desktop through the headset is simply not usable, but if the device could be switch programmatically, then we have a working solution. Just make sure to provide support for dimming the screen and programmatic fade-in-and-out transitions to make it easier on the eyes.

Day of the Tentacle Quote

June 26, 2013

“Behold, children!” shouted Doctor Fred behind them. “The Chron-O-John!”
“Doc, can’t you just send Bernard?” said Hoagie.
“No,” said Doctor Fred, “you must all go to increase the odds that one of you will make it there alive!”
“Have any people ever been hurt in this thing?” asked Bernard.
“Of course not!” said Doctor Fred dismissively. The three students cheered up. “This is the first time I’ve ever tried it on people!”

Treasure your Console


Ouya Console

There are some people who are collectors, they love to hoard and collect things of all types, and others who git rid of things as soon as they stop using them. There are still others who shoot them on sight when playing Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately for video game consoles, they tend to be traded, given away, or discarded more often than not as soon as the next big thing comes along. The fact is that for many of us, it is simply not practical to hold onto every piece of hardware that crosses your path, even though we may want to hold on to it.

I enjoy playing games on the console hardware, but I also enjoy playing those same games through an emulator because some the console’s quirks can irritate me after a while. I tend to be a pragmatist when it comes to gaming nostalgia; generally speaking, if I don’t use or enjoy the console or the games available for it, then I will get rid of it. The reasons for doing this are almost always centred around clutter; I relish my hobby more if I can find and use the games I enjoy more easily. I almost never throw these systems away, although a friend of mine will attest to an unfortunate incident involving a fully functional Atari ST computer and monitor going into the trash in a moment of weakness, but these incidents are very rare thankfully.

These bits of retro hardware are full of little issues for the modern gamer. They don’t work very well on new televisions, they sometimes emit a musty smell, their hardware eventually deteriorates to the point where certain components need to be replaced, they lack save state functionality, and they often require bulky things like cartridges in order to do something useful. Some of these problems can be addressed: the console hardware can be modified to support new output technologies like component or RCA or VGA, the failing hardware components can be replaced with higher quality modern electronics, new cartridges are often available that use flash or SD Card storage and, of course, they can be cleaned.

However, I am of the opinion that certain pieces of gaming hardware and software are more than just the sum of their parts and are worth hanging onto because they represent something greater, even if they don’t work that well out of the storage box. We are part of a very large body of people in the world who have been brought up with iconic video game characters like Mario and Zelda in their daily lives. Many other elements of video game culture such as the people involved, the companies behind the platforms, the art, music and sound effects have permeated our society over the last five decades. Many of these systems have long and varied histories, most of which are very interesting from a cultural and technological standpoint. They are the reason you are using a smart phone right now, and they are also the reason you television has a web browser. There are numerous books published on video game history and technology which are available through various on-line retailers or perhaps directly through the author’s own web site, if you desire something fun and interesting to read. For those systems you found fun to play, try hanging onto them for a while, your kids may enjoy using them and you may certainly enjoy regaling them with interesting historical tidbits as they develop an appreciation for the devices they use.

Day of the Tentacle Quote

June 24, 2013


“You know what they say, if you want to save the world, you need to push a few old ladies down the stairs.”

Ouya Unboxing and First Thoughts

June 22, 2013

The Ouya arrived in the mail yesterday, I was an early backer but an international one, so I was further down the shipment date list. Here are a few shots of the initial unpacking:

The packaging was tidy and simple, nothing elaborate like an Apple product. The boot process was simple and after joining my wireless network and pairing the Bluetooth joystick, then applying the first system update, the console was ready… but not fully working. After the update, things got a little flakey, the Bluetooth pairing was lost and while the device knew about the wireless network it had previously joined, it wasn’t actually connected. I discovered this bug while attempting to sign in to the Ouya network and it reported the error. To fix it, I needed to toggle wireless networking, which caused it to rejoin the network and the adventure was able to continue.

I am able to use a keyboard and mouse with the console, although the mouse doesn’t seem to work in the “Discover” panel when selecting games but the joystick works just fine. Here you can download any game you want and more than one at the same time, but it is difficult to see the progress of each game as it downloads. This would be an ideal option for the “Play” tab which remains empty until the game has completely downloaded; instead, it could show you which games are currently being installed and the progress for each. The progress bar overlay they use in the Discover panel is not a particularly good color and tends to blend in a little too well with most the thumbnails.

Every game is free to try, which is a really nice model because some titles I think I will like, end up being not what I expected and thus collect dust on my system or shelf. It’s also a much better model for tentative gamers since they can try out more games in a worry free model. Although as an added enhancment, I would like to know the price of a game ahead of time, just in case the price does not match my expectations so I don’t waste time playing a game I will never buy. Hopefully, little features like wish lists will be forthcoming in future updates.

The Ouya is coming, but are you excited enough?

June 19, 2013

Ok, so there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about in terms of a revolutionary hardware platform, but I think the people behind the Ouya seem to have made a nice machine. Yes, it runs Android, and no it’s not a phone. Unfortunately, there are a number of people making that comparison, and yes, there are Android phones out there with better hardware, but the Ouya is not a phone. It’s a stable Android platform which game makers can target like a console. This is something that has dogged the Android development environment for years because of the rapid and large scale changes to the Android SDK after every major version and the hardware offerings themselves. It’s hard work to ensure your latest Android game runs flawlessly on the numerous bits of Android jetsome floating about in the market, and wouldn’t it be easier if the hardware platform didn’t change on a weekly basis? The Ouya tries to solve this problem as well as giving Android gamers a better gaming environment than a phone, which I am sure is something you think is pretty special, but it does lack a bit of flexibility in the input and output arena. It’s also a beautiful platform for Indie developers looking to release cool software for your living room; I am sure there are lots of opportunities just waiting there for creative programmers looking to take a slice of the Android pie. Think about it, what other options were there for you to release software on a computing device in the living room? The Xbox 360, the PS3, the Wii U? These are great platforms but I would hardly call them accessible to very small development companies. Not to mention, these platforms are only interested in releasing games for the most part. There is the odd piece of software like Netflix, but the bulk of 3rd party offerings is in the entertainment market.