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Heading West with Red Dead Redemption

22 Feb

MarstonBy Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)

I don’t always get into shows and games while they’re current. A perfect example is how I’m finally watching HBO’s Westworld. I remember how the original trailer really caught my interest, but in the never-ending flood of media the modern world provides, I didn’t actually start watching until a few weeks ago. It’s FANTASTIC. No spoilers here. Just go see it if you have any interest in westerns and the nature of reality.

I would have been perfectly happy with how it ended, but there is a second season in the works, due to arrive April 22nd. In the meantime, however, it did leave me in the mood for more entertainment in a western setting. Then I remembered a game that, like Westworld, was extremely popular and while I enjoyed it for a few hours when it was new, never seriously sat down and gave it the attention it deserved.

Red Dead Redemption (available for purchase on Amazon) was created as a spiritual sequel to Red Dead Revolver (also on Amazon), a straightforward action game for the PlayStation 2, and was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. It was developed by the legendary Rockstar Games who created many other world-famous titles over the years from the addictive Lemmings to the industry changing Grand Theft Auto series. Not directly tied to its predecessor other than its name, Redemption took much more inspiration from the scale and open world of the Grand Theft Auto games and shares many of the same conventions.

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Debugging Lenovo + Disney’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges

25 Jan

by Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Lenovo + Disney’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is an imperfect augmented reality game. This product can be ordered direct from the manufacturer or online. Best Buy had this product as an exclusive before the movie The Last Jedi. Fans lucky enough to get this product as a gift were no doubt excited, and hopefully, they did not have to return it as not all smartphones work. This product supplies the hardware to play and the software needs to be downloaded. This game is definitely for the lightsaber enthusiast. Trials of Combat, provides one heck of a workout for the arms and the other two (Insight and Leadership), knowing some board game battle strategy helps.

However, one huge problem exists: The tracking beacon (aka the Holocron) is supposed to indicate where the “floor” is. When I held it in my hand, the software did not recognize how close it was to my face and the hologram being projected did not scale down like it is supposed to (as seen in the series). I was often staring at the lower part of the map or my opponent’s feet.

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Top Five Most Anticipated Nerdy Films for 2018 that are not Marvel or DC

17 Jan

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

With the month of January in full swing, this new year offers plenty of films to look forward to. Not all of the lists have to include that comic book film. Yes, I will go see it, but no, Infinity War is not in my top five of the must-see. The better story from the comic book world is Infinity Gauntlet. This tale is told through short moments in the various films and during the credits. While that cannot be stitched together coherently to its own product, I feel that’s a missed opportunity Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios did not want to get explored; the War movie is a two-parter which puts this film out of the running for being a truly 2018 product.

Other movies I’m excited to go see are:

Iron Sky: The Ark (Feb 15, Germany)

This movie is technically a comic book product, but it is one that is non-American. The first film had an amusing premise of Nazis living on the moon and they decide to invade the Earth in 2018.  This year is happening now and fortunately, we do not have to worry about any real-life invasions.

Honestly, we do not know as the year has just begun, but to see this series of films which seems to borrow on the crazy conspiracies conjectured by Ancient Aliens will have some curious in how much fiction is going to imply reality. In this film’s case, it’s with two university dropouts (from China) who set out to decode a strange message coming from the moon. Somehow, the Illuminati get involved!

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Re-imagining the Retro for VR gaming

7 Jan

doomvfrBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Videogamers can belong to one camp or many. I love the idea of what virtual reality can bring to the electronic world of gaming. I have played enough demos and product to know what I like. This medium is absolutely perfect for simulators and first person shooters.

At the same time, I miss the simplicity of the older games found at arcades from the late 70’s to 90’s. I played many translations of these games on the PC or gamer consoles. While the low resolution and technology from a decade ago were not able of making VR come alive, the devices we have now are more than capable! Not every game needs photo-realism. To play these products will offer some exercise to those rarely flexed biceps and triceps. Before chiropractors can cry foul, I suggest all games have a fixed time limit so physical injury can not result.

My imagination is running wild at the idea of fine-tuning fond retro classics for VR gamers to marvel at. A few titles have been redesigned and instead of paddles or trackballs, players can use either motion controllers (like Sony Playstation’s Move) or a traditional gamepad. I still wonder if the original mold can be used though.

Some of the titles I like to see get re-imagined are grouped together than given its own entry.  I offer my thoughts on how each of them can work with either Mobile VR or standalone (Oculus, PlayStation VR or HTV Vive). While the former can fully render the classics in their original form, the latter is more about redesigning the game for a modern gamer to enjoy.

Tempest (Atari 1981)

Instead of a PS4 style of controller, to have this game played with motion sensors tracking hand motions will definitely tire many players out. To play it on a traditional controller will be easier, and the main reason why I feel this game deserves this VR treatment is in the fact it was designed with 3D in mind. A modernized version is in the works. Sadly, no word is said if this update will be designed for VR.

In what makes the experience special is when the geometric play field zooms in carrying the player’s ship (named The Claw) to the next level! To watch this pull you in like the wormhole sequence in Stargate SG-1 (or film) will have me at least squealing in delight like Starbuck launching out of the Battlestar Galactica!

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