MLB The Show 16’s beginner mode is a tad too easy…

MLB The Show 16 too easy

I’ve been playing MLB The Show 16 on the PS4 Pro I picked up this weekend, and it’s felt great to be able to play baseball again (after too many years of hoping for an MLB game to return to Xbox). That said, I think I need to step it up from the beginner difficulty setting. I won my first game of the season 17-0 (with a little help from two created players with uber stats), and I hit six consecutive home runs in a single inning! Regardless I’ve been playing a blast, and just wanted to share! I hope to share my first impressions of the PS4 Pro after I spend some more time with it. Until then, enjoy the hilarity:

 

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Halo Wars 2 first impressions

Yesterday I excitedly fired up Halo Wars 2 on PC, and from its first moments it was impressive.┬áThere is one problem I’m having with it, however, and that’s the way it controls on PC. It doesn’t control like an RTS at all, which I assume is because the game was designed with console gamers in mind (it is a Play Anywhere title). I had to dig into the key bindings menu a lot, even after finishing the tutorials, just to figure out how to do things that should be common sense. I’m incredibly puzzled by some of the control decisions they’ve made on PC. For example, to rotate or zoom the camera you must first hold down the ALT key. It just doesn’t feel right. The worst problem of all, however, came when I tried to figure out how to bring up the pause menu. The ESC key did nothing, and I tried just about every key I could think of, but nothing happened. Eventually I turned on my Xbox controller and took control that way just to get into the key bindings menu to find out that F10 is the pause / menu key, not ESC. What the heck?

I haven’t tried to play Halo Wars 2 with a controller yet, so maybe that will end up being the way to play it, but I’m a little disappointed that it doesn’t control as smoothly as I expected it to on PC. Other than that it runs great, and I’ve had a fun time with it despite the control hiccups.

Dreaming of a future in which A.I. designs video games

image via ThinkStock

image via ThinkStock

I’ve been thinking lately about an interesting possibility for the future of game development. It may not be a realistic idea, but it’s one I figured I’d share anyway. I was imagining a day when artificial intelligence is advanced to the point where anyone in the world can ask in simple language for an A.I. assistant to complete a complicated task. If these A.I. assistants were capable of taking simple human input (no programming required) and learning the skills necessary to complete the requested task, so much would be possible. Just imagine if you could explain to an A.I. your dream video game idea, and then the A.I. would start toiling away, day and night working on creating a video game for you. Obviously game development is a complicated task, as proven by the fact that many talented programmers and designers often start with ambitions ideas and fail to create an enjoyable end product (cough: No Man’s Sky). But if A.I. got to the point where it could learn and work rapidly, I want to believe that it would be able to churn out “perfect” video games with regularity.

I should mention, that I have very little understanding of how artificial intelligence or machine learning currently works, but I don’t think that it’s entirely impossible for machines to someday outperform humans at any and all tasks. When this day comes I could imagine a person sitting down at a terminal and brainstorming video game ideas with an A.I. The A.I. would ask questions to help guide it along the creative process, but it could take care of most of the more intricate work (art design, programming) without much input. It would of course have studied everything there is to know about game design, and already know, for example, the general rules that apply to most genres. The A.I. would have the opportunity to observe you play other video games and have an understanding of the things that you enjoy and those that frustrate you.

It’s difficult to imagine a future where machines become excellent story tellers (though I doubt it’s impossible), so I think A.I. game designers would best be suited to craft sandbox games, or games that tend to follow widely accepted rules (such as sports or driving games). Still, it would be incredibly empowering to have an A.I. that could take my simple gaming desires and translate them into effective code and artwork, and ultimately a fully functional video game built just for me.

I’m sure there are many more practical and important tasks that A.I. will help us accomplish in the coming years, but I’m still going to keep dreaming about the possibility of having a personal video game development team in the cloud, even if it’s not likely to happen in my lifetime.

 

What I’ve been playing

Again, I have to apologize for not posting much lately as I’ve been busy, and the crappy weather hasn’t helped to motivate me.

Recently I’ve still been playing a lot of Battlefield 1 and enjoying the heck out of it. Other than that, I started Oxenfree and was impressed with the opening moments. I’m looking forward to digging more into Oxenfree this weekend if I have a chance. I progressed a little more in Firewatch and have to say that game has me on edge. I can’t wait to finish it out and try to figure out what the heck is going on. Lastly, I played a few hours of Watch Dogs 2 and enjoyed it much more than the first game. It has a fun, goofy style to it that just makes me smile. The post mission graphics and sound effects are just dumb in such a good way, in a way that reminds me of Amped 3. The gameplay has been enjoyable, although I’ve been frustrated with the combat a few times already.

It’ll be kind of a short weekend for me as I’m working late tonight (like getting home at 4 or 5 Saturday morning late) and then switching to day shift Monday, but if I have time I’d like to write something more significant. Until then, thanks again for not forgetting about me.

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy new year, and let you know that I’ll be publishing some sort of “game of the year” list later today. I haven’t spent as much time playing video games in 2016 as I would have liked (or it might be more accurate to say that I started a lot of games and finished very few, going back to 2015). I’ve started Final Fantasy XV, Watch Dogs 2, Dead Rising 4, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and so on, and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of any of them. I have some serious gaming ADD. I put about four hours into Final Fantasy, and would like to play more, but I keep getting distracted. Speaking of Final Fantasy, I was ecstatic to learn that World of Final Fantasy was out for the Vita, but only put about two hours into it before never touching it again. I played the opening of Watch Dogs 2 and it seems to be an interesting game, but I need to get back to it. With all this said, my game of the year list will prove incredibly difficult to craft. This year will probably be my sloppiest list to date, and I’m sure that once I sink more time into some of 2016’s games my list will look entirely different. Maybe I can come back and revise the list in a month or two, but for now I’d like to at least post the games I’ve enjoyed most in 2016.

For now, I’m off to the gym for my first workout of 2017 (let it be known I’ve been going to the gym for months, I’m not one for resolutions) so I hope you all have a good morning and a great start to 2017!

Been a busy November

I’ve been neglecting my blog again, but November was a busy month and December hasn’t been much slower so far. I got married last month, which was a pretty awesome time!

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Also around the same time I started a new position at work and then sewed on my new rank, so that’s all been exciting and terrifying at the same time. I’ve been working longer than usual hours and have spent less time playing video games and even less time writing about them.

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I’m trying to catch up on a back log of video games, and hopefully I’ll finally start getting some stuff done. I’ve played a few hours of Final Fantasy XV and still haven’t decided if it’s something I’m going to be into or not. It just feels weird, and somewhat thrown together in a way that’s just not doing much for me right now. Also I want to check out Dead Rising 4, but I still need to finish Titanfall 2’s campaign. So much to do, so little time, so for now I’m going to head off to the gym and then hopefully have something worth writing about later tonight.

About to go live for Extra Life

Hey just wanted to pop in and say I’m about to go live with an Extra Life stream, as a member of team Giant Bomb. The link for my Extra Life profile is http://extra-life.org/participant/AVGL, and the link to the Twitch stream is http://twitch.tv/jdh5153.

I encourage you to stop by if you can! I’ll be starting off by working through some games in my Steam backlog such as Bastion, Transistor, Gone Home and Stardew Valley and moving on from there. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to make it through the 24 hours in one shot, or divide it up into two legs. We’ll see how it goes!

Thanks again!

-Jonathan