5 Conclusions - 05/10/18

October 5, 2018

A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: You awake to find yourself in a browser — we suggest you grab a sword

The likes of Level-9 and Infocom may be long gone, but it seems someone at Google still has a soft spot for text adventures of old. A Redditor this week stumbled upon a hidden game buried in the development console of Google's Chrome browser. To access it, you simply type "text adventure" into Google and then right-click the search results page and choose "Inspect". In the bottom-right corner, you'll see the development console... except it now contains a game which will bring back fond memories for anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s.

As text adventures go, it's not really a match for the likes of Zork or even Colossal Cave Adventure. But it's nonetheless a neat little Easter Egg, and — we suspect — a recently added one, given how long it's taken for this to come to light.

Conclusion Two: Project Stream is the way the world ends

The world as we all know it, anyway. A while back Jump Dash Roll suggested that Google was trying to get into gaming. It seems this was true, and Google doesn’t do half measures. No, only full measures work for the technology behemoth. You see, Google will introduce itself to gaming by way of Project Stream, testing from October through to January by letting users play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in their Chrome browser. Wow.

So, if you are 17 or older and live in the USA, then you can apply to take part in Project Stream’s initial testing. You get to play the latest triple-A Assassin’s Creed, probably with a few wobblies along the way, but in doing so you’ll test whether Google can deliver the latency and stability needed to enjoy proper gaming streamed down your fat pipe. That is rather exciting. And quite possibly the way the world as we know it ends — and a new one begins, with Google leading the charge.

Conclusion Three: Ubisoft to create its own currency?

“A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a merkle tree root hash).”

So says Wikipedia. You may better recognise blockchain as various forms of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or Litecoin. Well, blockchain might be about to go mainstream in the gaming sector.

According to the blurb of the recently founded Blockchain Gaming Alliance it is “...a coalition of gaming and Blockchain companies committed to advocate for the democratisation of Blockchain within the gaming industry.” That’s delightful, but what does it mean?

Well, “Convinced that this breakthrough technology brings numerous new benefits to the whole ecosystem, from developers to players, we provide an open forum for all stakeholders to share knowledge and collaborate on research that foster new ways to create and play games. Our ultimate goal is to help spread the integration of Blockchain by developing common standards and best practices.”

Any wiser? Time will tell I guess what it really means. Interestingly though, Ubisoft is a part of this alliance. Ubisoft makes many big games as well you know, but also likes its own ecosystems. Uplay is still a thing, for example. On that basis, perhaps Ubisoft wants to lead the next big thing and be at the forefront of everything, not just gaming? That could mean hardware — although unlikely — but given this alliance, it probably does mean a Ubisoft cryptocurrency. Imagine mining blockchains as you progress through Assassin’s Creed 27 and using those to buy the sequel.

Maybe - or perhaps there will be some mechanism which affords Ubisoft a bigger margin. Either way, a Ubisoft currency seems likely in the near future.

Conclusion Four: Nintendo updating the Switch is NOT news

Nintendo does hardware revision as often as it provides us with a new game involving Mario in one way or another. The DS was released in 2004, the DS lite in 2006. The DSi came out in 2008 and in 2009 the DS XL was released.

Between 1989 and 2005 there were seven Game Boy variants. The 3DS has more versions than you’d care to remember. The point is, Nintendo always revises hardware. Of course it does. Why?

Well, cost, most likely. Supply chains will vary in cost and often there will always be a cheaper one, whilst at other times there will be issues meaning the existing supply is not good value. If you have plans to change supply chains, why not invest in the product development to deliver against something the consumer needs, too? You won’t know what that is in every case until you get the initial product out there and start to learn. In the case of the DS, Nintendo knew the execution was a bit clunky but the idea was so good it was worth getting it out there and THEN iterating.

Nintendo’s strategy is to launch, learn and develop. The Switch is really an updated Wii U with some pretty cool enhancements, no? So why would we not get a Switch update which brings some benefits to Nintendo and their production line as well as to us the consumers. Think of all the issues you have with your amazing console and perhaps, just maybe, Nintendo is already fixing them.

Conclusion Five: Nintendo love to plough the past

Speaking of Game Boys, it seems that Nintendo just can't get enough of digging up their history and repackaging it for the current market. The NES and SNES have already been repurposed into convenient all-in-one bundles for you to enjoy on your HDTV. While we wait for the inevitable appearance of the N64 Mini, there's another treat in store for fans of their older handheld devices. It appears that Nintendo have patented a smartphone case which not only looks like a Game Boy, but actually functions like one too.

Siliconera discovered this on Thursday, but it appears the patent was actually registered back in March. Of course, a patent doesn't mean that the case will ever get made, but there are plenty of emulated Game Boy games available on the 3DS which could easily run on today's phones. Smartphones are, after all, light years ahead of the technology used in Nintendo's old handheld. Could we soon see a run of expensive cases hitting the stores? Our guess: probably not, but a working Game Boy case would still look pretty damn cool.

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Outer Wilds is a meditative, slow, but ultimately rewarding sci-fi extravaganza that everyone looking for an adventure should play — but be prepared for some frustration and repetition.
Luciano Howard

I've been gaming for 30+ years on the Commodore VIC-20 to the Nintendo Switch and most things in-between. I enjoy all kinds of games but if I had to pick a couple right now, I'd say I adore Mario and love Dark Souls. I can talk about either ad infinitum...