Upcoming: Bubba in 7h 23m
Upcoming: The Roundup in 12h 23m
Upcoming: Wolfpack Tuesday in 1d 11h
Varyar1G's articles
Article
Operation Supply Drop Summer Siege Event!
Jul 4th 2015
For those of you who have been around since the beginning, you may recall that I wrote a brief article about an organization called Operation Supply Drop almost two years ago. The original article can be found at http://www.rivalcastmedia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=943 but, for those who need a brief refresher, they're a charity that sends care packages full of gaming goodness to U.S. and NATO troops stationed overseas.
Upon leaving the military, Captain Stephen Machuga realized that civilians wanted to show their support for the troops overseas, but that their care packages, while well meaning, showed a total lack of understanding regarding what the troops would actually appreciate. Capt. Machuga decided that he could do better, and armed with that confidence, approached various industry organizations, from developers to publishers, and began sending 'supply drops', inspired by the care packages in Call of Duty, loaded with games, consoles, and peripherals to troops that were down range.
Article
Bethesda's First Ever E3 Conference!
Feb 16th 2015
Bethesda Softworks has announced that they will be holding their first ever E3 Showcase on Sunday, June 14th, 2015. For those of us who won't be attending live, they will be broadcasting the showcase live on their twitch stream at http://www.twitch.tv/bethesda. The question becomes why is this news? Is it the rumors of a Fallout 4 announcement waiting in the wings? Well, anyone who knows me or has listened to any of my shows will be certain that a Fallout 4 confirmation would be reason enough for me to do just about anything, but I believe that this is much more significant than that.
For some time now, many have been speculating that E3 is on the wane, and that the tradeshow is obsolete in the face of new media such as Twitch, Twitter, and other online media outlets. However, E3 still retains a certain cachet amongst gamers, and while companies like Nintendo and Activision are bailing on E3, scaling back on what were traditionally massive PR campaigns and events, it is still an epicenter of gaming news and announcements. Sony and Microsoft both still do multihour showcases at E3, and companies like Ubisoft and EA also host their own dedicated events, featuring never before seen footage, surprise announcements, and big reveals. At last year's E3, EA surprised the public by opening up the Battlefield: Hardline beta live during their own showcase, surprising gamers and causing an immediate rush to grab the limited codes. This proves that despite the doomsayers, a well done E3 event can still generate huge amounts of buzz for a company and its products.
However, not content with having a showcase, Bethesda will be going FIRST. That's right, they don't want to be a part of the pack, instead Bethesda is lacing up their biggest, baddest shit kickers and taking a swing for the fences. A Fallout 4 reveal would be just the thing to (hopefully, please god let it be good!) wow audiences and really build the online/E3 hype for their first ever solo conference. Showing off footage, setting a release date, hell, even just telling us that they have a team thinking about working on Fallout 4 would be enough to get the internet all lathered up at this point considering how tight lipped they've been.
Article
Starpoint Gemini 2 - I'm a God Damned Starship Captain
Jan 3rd 2015
Starpoint Gemini 2 is not a brand new game, it's been out for a few months now. I picked it up with high hopes during the Steam winter sale, having long been searching for the spiritual successor to Freelancer, and I have not been disappointed. There is a certain patient majesty to sailing the stars, master of my own destiny, a captain beholden to no one but the bottom line, which has always brought me back to the space sim genre. A few of the community members recommended this game to me during one of our late night TeamSpeak sessions, and I can only say that I am glad that they did.
I never played the first Starpoint Gemini game, so I must admit that I came in to the universe cold. However, it doesn't seem to have detracted any from the experience so far. This game, like most space sims, is all about exploring, trading, fighting, and upgrading as you cruise around an extremely large universe created by the developer, Little Green Men Games. Despite a somewhat steep learning curve, and a sometimes confusing text heavy tutorial, this has already turned in to one of those games that causes me to lose track of time.
Before we get to the meat of this review, I want to emphasize that this game is not Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous. I look forward to both of those titles, but they will be online, centered upon persistent universes populated by hundreds and thousands of other human players. Starpoint Gemini 2 is a one man sandbox. Both of those games have emphasized piloting your own ship, whereas SP2 is in no way a space flight sim. There is no first person/cockpit view. In fact, SP2 is more a tactical space sim than a flight sim, and oftentimes I leave the computer to do the shooting for me a la EVE Online rather than take direct manual control. Trust me, as Captain you'll have better things to do than try and land every shot yourself.
Article
Rumors of Fallout 4 Multiplayer
Dec 27th 2014
The fact that I love Fallout will come as no surprise to our long time listeners. I enjoy the stories, the game play, the universe, the lore, the guns, the mutants, the mutants exploding as I shoot them with the guns...you get the point. I would love to see another Fallout game. I yearn to wander the wasteland once more, and supposedly, I may get the chance to do so again soon.
Rumors of a Fallout 4 set in Boston have been out on the net for quite some time now. It all started with a post on Bethesda's Blog (http://www.bethblog.com/2013/04/15/moving-to-our-next-adventure/) where they mention a new game that the studio was devoting its full attention too. Many began to speculate that this game was Fallout 4. Bethesda has always been adamant about their determination to continue exploring the Fallout universe. Their VP of Communications, Pete Hines, said in 2008: "This is not something we're going to do once and then go away and never do it again. When that will be or how long that will be god only knows, but we acquired it specifically because we wanted to own it and develop it and work on it like we do with The Elder Scrolls."
That quote was prior to the release of New Vegas, but it sounds as if Bethesda has always planned to make Fallout a multi game franchise a la Elder Scrolls. More hope struck the webs when Erik Todd Dellums, voice of the infamous Three Dog, tweeted to the world that Three Dog may return to the wastelands. Shortly after that tweet, he spoke with Agent C of Nukapedia (fallout.wikia.com) and said that he had been in contact with Bethesda and that they had invited him to share with his followers that his character may return to the airwaves once more. This, of course, ignited a firestorm of speculation. However, with no more news for months, interest returned to the back burner of gamers' consciousness.
Article
Is Another Crash Inevitable? Hardly.
Mar 20th 2014
We've talked a lot here at RCM about the current state of the gaming industry, especially concerning the balance between art and business and whether or not the console industry is on the verge of another 80s style crash. The PC indie market seems to be in the ascendant, while the AAA publishers and developers that depend on yearly console releases appear to be struggling in terms of their quality control and creativity. It seems that every other month we talk about a bungled launch, a buggy patch, or the latest outrage du jour amongst the gaming public. With few exceptions, major developers seem hesitant to take chances or try to build groundbreaking new IPs. Instead, the industry is afflicted by sequelitis, with a new Call of Duty almost every year, a new Battlefield, a new Assassin's Creed. The newest consoles are selling well, with the PS4 being one of the fastest selling launches of all time, but the launch titles, while also profitable, didn't take any chances. While the indie community takes risks and has become a hotbed of innovation, the mainstream studios continue to fall back on the tried and true formulas that have sold games in the past.
For a few years now, people have been comparing the current situation to the 80's, claiming that a new video game crash is imminent. Some writers and journalists even claim that a new crash would be good for the console industry, a necessary destruction of the current chaotic yet stagnant system that would make way for new ideas and new companies that would pay more attention to the needs and wants of the consumer. This speculation began heating up again in 2013, and those predicting a new crash aren't just whistling in the dark, they have some very compelling arguments. Game budgets are bloated, the industry itself has a reputation for horrible working conditions, and consumer confidence in major gaming companies is at an all-time low due to a perceived disconnect between publishers and consumers. The point has been repeatedly made that major publishers and developers are using a flawed business model, with Fortune 500 CEOs and marketing gurus telling developers how to make their games. Games, once made by teams with a dozen people, are now created using a cast of hundreds. In addition, these major publishers are competing in an industry more cutthroat than almost any other, where many developers are almost constantly just one flop away from bankruptcy. This trend is unsustainable and is driving the impetus that creates a new Call of Duty or other big name title every year. In an industry with all of that going for it, what could possibly go wrong, right? It's very easy to paint a picture of an industry teetering on the brink, reaching a point of market saturation with more and more companies fighting for their slice of a market that is more jaded and distrustful than ever before.
Yet, despite all of this doom and gloom, the industry is bigger than ever, with more titles being released and more money being made each year. Gaming has gone from being stigmatized (to an extent) to something so mainstream that in many ways, it has eclipsed Hollywood. In the 90s, gamers were young and the stereotype held that the gaming nerd was oppressed by the popular jock. Now, the average gamer is in their 30s and Pro Athletes are tweeting about being in betas. The media waves their hands hysterically about violence in video games, but the hype is falling mostly upon deaf ears despite a certain amount of Washington saber rattling. The market for games isn't going anywhere. So, if the market isn't going anywhere, where is the crash going to come from? I suppose it depends on how you define a crash. If by crash you are talking about an 80s style destruction of the entire console industry, which led to a sharp decline in all gaming, then I just don't see it. Teenage girls play games on their smartphones, captains of industry play games on their laptops, athletes play games on their xbox, and yes, teenage boys are still talking about each other's mothers in CoD. If consoles die, it will only happen because they've been replaced by something better. The industry will survive, and even prosper.
Article
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - A Pirate's Life for me!
Nov 3rd 2013

Anyone that has listened to our shows or spoken to me during evening game sessions probably knows that I'm a big fan of this series. The combination of addictive gameplay and the historical settings has always made for a potent combination in my eyes, and the addition of a compelling storyline about secret societies and ancient wars was just icing on the cake. Unfortunately, in recent installments, most particularly AC III, the Desmond storyline had begun getting weighed down under the constant twists and complications. Black Flag corrects this. Playing as an Abstergo employee as opposed to Desmond lightens things up significantly, and some very cool tie-ins link it to the original, ongoing storyline without burying it under the weight of past games.
The thing about this new modern storyline is that while you can explore and hack and spy to your heart's content, you really don't have to. Aside from a few mandatory tasks that take about 3-5 minutes each, you don't have to spend any time outside the animus if you don't want to. Now I, as a completionist and someone who really enjoys the modern Templar vs. Assassin storyline, have hacked everything I can find, but that is due to my own preferences, not something the game has made me do.
Article
New Assassin's Creed IV video shows off open world
Jul 24th 2013
With October 29th and the release of Assassin's Creed IV fast approaching, developer Ubisoft has been slowly releasing details about their newest game in the immensely popular franchise. With sales of the last game topping 10 million worldwide, Ubisoft is understandably trying to build excitement for the next chapter in their story. So far, most of the details and, especially, videos released have dealt with the gameplay, focusing on the naval aspects of being a pirate in the Caribbean, notably the ship to ship combat.
However, earlier today Ubisoft posted a new video, one that shows just how big a world they've been crafting. Designed to allow the player to explore and play as they wish, the game appears to have done away with loading screens between the naval and shore based worlds. In this latest gameplay demo, we can see Edward sailing around the Caribbean, pulling up near land, and hopping over the railing in order to swim ashore and conduct whatever business he may have their. In fact, the beginning of this video focuses on an assassination contract that has our good Mr. Kenley trying to kill two brothers. After killing the first outside a tavern, the other runs and hops about his own ship in order to make his escape. Unfortunately for him, the player now has the ability to hop on his own ship, the Jackdaw, and make a seamless transition from land based action to piratical combat on the high seas. In the demo, we see the player take the wheel and the ship begin moving forward, before culminating in a naval battle where the player first batters the enemy ship with gunfire before boarding her and killing the target, taking the ship in the process.
I must say that the world design in this video is gorgeous. The game's director, Ashraf Ismail, narrates the video, and shows us everything from fishing villages to Mayan ruins. While no one can say how good or bad a game will be without actually playing it, the game looks excellent so far, and if things continue in this fashion, I may just have to block out some serious gaming time at the end of October.
Article
Operation Supply Drop:Games for Troops
Jul 6th 2013
Seeing as it's Fourth of July weekend, I thought I could find something to write about that was both relevant to gaming and what this weekend is all about. I was successful. Operation Supply Drop is a charity, founded by Captain Stephen Machuga (ret.), that builds care packages for the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Cpt. Machuga was serving in Iraq when he received a care package containing used Harlequin romance novels. After his unit got done using them as targets on the range, Cpt. Machuga realized that, while they meant well, most civilians had no idea what the troops would actually like to see in care packages. After retiring, he started Operation Supply Drop, a fully registered 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, to create video game based care packages for those serving downrange, as well as the wounded warriors recovering in military hospitals back home. So far he has raised over $300,000, and shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, this week, he has gotten some very big names in the industry to contribute to his latest campaign, which he has dubbed PIXEL FIREWORKS. Both Valve and SEGA have made large contributions in games and paraphernalia to Operation Supply Drop, and other donations have poured in as well. In fact, PIXEL FIREWORKS, a campaign that started in May, has raised $25000 for this weeks care package deliveries, which will put a lot of games in a lot of hooches out there in Afghanistan.
Article
The Next Gen Console War: Amazon Preorders smash records
Jun 21st 2013
Amazon had its biggest preorder week ever, with early sales of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One leading the charge. At some points, over 2500 preorders for the next-gen consoles were being processed per minute, a 4000% increase over last year's E3 week console sales. In fact, taken together, Day One preorders smashed last year's Black Friday, with the Xbox One and PS4 combining to double not just console sales last year, but all video game related sales on what is traditionally the best sales day of the year. While the Playstation 4 took an early lead in the presale race, Microsoft has made a strong comeback. With their public reversal of their once a day connection requirement, as well as the lifting of the used game ban, the Xbox One has surged past the Playstation 4 to become the top selling item on Amazon.com.
With the fury of gamers everywhere descending upon the unveiling of the Xbox One, many had speculated whether or not Microsoft would be able to pull off a viable launch for their latest gaming centerpiece. However, these early indications seem to show that the gaming public has been mollified by Microsoft's willingness to change course. Some in the industry still harbor strong doubts regarding the Kinect and the ability of publishers to insert their own onerous DRM requirements, but this news from Amazon indicates that the public may be a little more willing to forgive. These preorder sale numbers have to be at least somewhat relieving to Don Mattrick and Co, although it is far too soon to tell how either console will do long term. As the launch of the Wii U illustrated, early numbers mean nothing if they can't be sustained, but if consumers are truly willing to give Microsoft another look, the Xbox One still has the potential to be a dominant force in the next-gen marketplace, with a wealth of exclusive titles and features.
Amazon has yet to release more specific sale numbers for either console, but rest assured that when they do, you'll read about it here on RivalCast Media.
Article
Microsoft Humbled: Used games are in and always on is out
Jun 20th 2013
Microsoft executives have done a horrific job so far with the launch of the Xbox One. I thought that the Playstation 3 was the worst modern launch I'd ever see, but I would have been wrong. I have to assume that the Microsoft board room has a giant flow chart showing the corporate bigwigs how to make exactly the wrong decision at exactly the right time to generate maximum gamer hate. However, it turns out that even Microsoft's Don Mattrick will get a clue if beaten hard enough about the head and shoulders.
Microsoft announced today that they would be removing the always on function and allowing used games to be played without any fees or restrictions. Don Mattrick posted an announcement on the Microsoft blog at http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update. In it, he attempts to placate the gaming community, stating that they believe that they have created a superior experience, but also stating that Microsoft has heard the gaming communities concerns and will be taking them in to account. The Microsoft exec takes an interesting position, stating "Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. " Obviously, he can't say, 'holy CRAP you guys were mad, please don't hurt us' but I still find it interesting that he takes the tone of a man finding a rare nugget of gold in the company suggestion box instead of a more conciliatory tone. I'm not sure which one would play better with gamers in general, but it seems a bit more of a mea culpa is in order.
Tone aside, what is ultimately important is the steps that Microsoft will be taking to address our concerns with the Xbox One. The meat of the press release reveals that Microsoft will be making two significant changes, hoping to dampen the criticism that has been leveled at them. First of all, an internet connection will no longer be required to play games offline. The Xbox One will require a connection once to register it online, but then you can play offline to your heart's content. Cloud based games and disc based games will both be available with no restrictions once they are on your console, with no need to check in and no more region locking. This move is sure to placate gamers that have been outraged by the idea that they had to get Microsoft's daily permission to play a game they bought.