All Geek to Me: Myriad of updates from all corners of geekdom

In All Geek to Me, Columns, Columns, Opinion


Well, it has been a while!

I’m sorry to those readers—both of you—who might have missed my handsome picture and sharp wordsmithing during the break, but you’ll be happy to know we’re back to explore some more nerdisms. Since there were quite a few updates in geekdom during the interim, let’s take a look at some of those.

J.J. Abrams is going to make a Half-Life movie or a Valve game. No one seems clear on it.

Famous Hollywood director J.J. Abrams and Valve Corporation co-founder Gabe Newell were on-stage at D.I.C.E., a video game industry event, to talk about how they’re super happy to be working together. On what?

Well, I don’t know, maybe a Half-Life movie, or a game. You guys like Portal, right? Maybe another one of those?

As we’ve seen in the past, with partnerships like that of Steven Spielberg with EA, games and Hollywood don’t seem to mix. Not that the results were as bad as any of the movies based on games, it’s just that nothing really came of those collaborations.

Abrams, director of such hits as the new Star Trek franchise, Cloverfield and the upcoming Star Wars sequels, claimed he was really looking forward to adapting some of his favorite games into movies, and Newell seemed equally enthusiastic. I’m not saying that those guys can’t produce good stuff, but it just doesn’t seem likely that anything will really come of this. Both of those men are extremely busy and already have about a dozen other projects they’re working on or are committed to.

I’d love to see some good movie adaptations of video games, maybe with the game creators a little more involved in the process. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Sony to sell high-end PC, calling it “PS4” or some such thing.

Unsurprisingly, the PlayStation 4 was announced by Sony a few weeks ago. Jumping ahead of Microsoft—who will no doubt be announcing its own new console soon—the electronics giant decided to start building up hype early. It did so by showing off hardware specs and bragging about some of the features the console could potentially have.

Potentially. Maybe. Possibly. Um … We’ll see?

All cynicism aside, some of those features do look pretty interesting. Livestreaming is a rising gaming trend, so a partnership with Ustream could work out well for them, even if most of the kids these days are on that site. The idea of being able to share your game footage with friends was interesting. Even cooler was the idea that a friend could literally jump into your game and take control, possibly helping you get past a difficult part, but more likely simply throwing your character off a cliff or into a pit of spikes.

Another smartly implemented idea was the new(ish) concept of streaming games via Sony’s recently purchased Gaikai program. Demos, older games from the previous PlayStations and smaller games could work over such a system, and the possibilities are many.  Additionally, Sony teased a function that would allow you to start playing a game even while it was still downloading, great for getting players into the games faster.

However, there weren’t many actual games shown off at the press event. Sony no doubt is waiting for E3 later in June to show those goodies off. The box itself and price weren’t announced either, but anyone expecting those was kidding themselves.

The ideas look promising, but—as always—the system will need good games to be worth buying.

Just ask the PlayStation Vita.

Sim City, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the DRM

Finally there’s Maxis and EA’s latest release, Sim City. It came out Tuesday and I purchased it. The game contains an always-online DRM (which is nerdy talk for saying you have to be connected to the Internet if you want to interact with the game in any way).

And if you can’t connect to EA’s servers, then you can’t play.

For an ostensibly single-player game this is fairly ridiculous, intrusive and unfair; so to counter those aspects, multiplayer mechanics have been added. These allow other players to take control of other cities in the same region as yours, allowing you to share resources along with other things.

It’s fine, but it’s not worth having to wait 30 minutes for my game to start—the one I paid $60 for.

The general consensus on DRM is that if you don’t agree with these policies, then you shouldn’t buy the game. Gamers have a nasty habit of throwing fits about things like this, but still buy the product anyway. I’m just as guilty.

All I can really say on the matter is this: For this particular game I don’t care. It’s so much fun when it’s online and working that I seem to pretty much forget all of the philosophical reasons I have for disliking this product.

I certainly am a hypocrite, but on the plus side, I was voted Mayor of the Year!

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