Backlog of XBLA games

I bought several popular Xbox Live Arcade games either when they came out, or after they received great critical acclaim. And then I never got around to playing them.

Whether it was Max and the Magic Marker on Windows Phone, or Bastion on Xbox Live Arcade, I’ve got some catching up to do! Even Retro City Rampage is waiting for me to give it a little more attention! Not to mention I bought the original Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy and never made much progress in those games. Or how about some of the fighting games I bought just for the sake of owning them, like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Mortal Kombat Arcade, or Marvel vs. Capcom 2! I’ve just got so many games I’ve added to my digital collection over the years that I forget about. Maybe it’s time to spend a nice weekend going through “the collection.” And maybe next weekend I should go through my Steam or GoG account and see what I’m missing out on!?

One dollar deals? It's gotta be Atari!

I walked in to a gamestore a few weeks ago, spent about $7, and walked out with a bag full of games. I still don’t even know for sure if they work, but I think this weekend will be a good one to escape from a few things and play some vintage games. I can’t wait to find out if my “new” copies of Demons to Diamonds, Yar’s Revenge, and Pitfall actually work!

You’re probably familiar with at least two of those, but I’m very excited for Demons to Diamonds because it’s a game that I’ve actually never played before, but I’ve heard good things in the past. I have a few other games I’ve been wanting to play around with, or even just see if my new game cartridges work. This should be a good weekend for an escape from the connected world. Are you planning anything fun?

Is the second Wii U update really only 30 MB?

Okay, sure, I’m a bit of a Wii U nerd. I think the technology is fascinating, but the games are lacking. I haven’t been playing mine for a little while. Then I heard there was a new update available for the console’s firmware, itself. I put the GamePad controller on its display stand and it has sit there long enough to completely drain of life. I didn’t want to power on my console for fear that the update would take ages, much like the update that was available at launch, which I suggested you install early if giving the Wii U as a gift.

Just the other day I decided I would brave the waters and go download the update. To my surprise, I thought that Nintendo may have modularized their updates, as this one was only 30 MB! It downloaded and installed in the matter of a few minutes then I was on my way to playing games. The improvements are supposed to include faster load times when dropping back to the main OS and so far that is all that has been highlighted. I didn’t notice any dramatic difference, though I didn’t time it with a stopwatch, and thought the size might be too small to be true, and as it turns out that may have only been an update to Miiverse. I guess I’ll wait a few more weeks to see if another, larger update comes out. But if this so-called system update that I saw really was the big-deal firmware update, then I’m actually pretty impressed. This is a much better way to do it than making users re-download the whole thing every time there is an update (ARE YOU LISTENING, SONY?).

Muliple Control Schemes in today's games

I’ve talked about Hydro Thunder a few times. But today it’s being used as yet another example of how developers really need to think beyond their current comfort zones when developing today’s games. With companies like Microsoft and others adopting a “pay once, use anywhere” model, you need to be prepared for whatever platform your game is going to appear on.

Although the first thing that may come to mind is being prepared for processing power limitations, what I find an interesting thought is supporting multiple control schemes. Much more care and consideration needs to going in being prepared for any platform. For instance, my Surface RT device acts as multiple platforms. In the game Hydro Thunder alone I can use all 3 primary control models, and even expand upon those.

Games could offer you the option to play with a mouse and a keyboard. Or just a keyboard. Or a USB controller that you’ve plugged in. Or using touchscreen controls. Perhaps even tilt controls. Or any combination of some or all of these, really! Okay, I admit, it might be hard to combine the keyboard and the tilt, but with something like the Surface, although it might be unwieldy, it wouldn’t be entirely impossible!

I find it fascinating that the system can automatically adapt depending on what devices are plugged in to it, and even more impressive that developers are considering these challenges as they release games. You don’t just make up your mind as to the best way to play your game anymore. You need to be more accommodating to the other players and allow them to choose a play-style that fits their needs at the time. I think it is an exciting challenge to have, but a challenge none the less, that adds additional demands and considerations to the game development process. It is undoubtedly an interesting era for gaming.