Bridging a Gap

It’s a very exciting time in the gaming industry. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have been around long enough that we are getting some truly great experiences out of them. Nintendo is getting ready to unveil the NX console this summer. And everything that is old is new again with Backwards Compatibility and PlayStation Now. And to top it all off Microsoft has offered an olive branch to make it so Xbox and PlayStation players could play each other.

Now let’s give credit where credit is due, both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 had limited forms of cross-platform play. The Xbox 360 had Shadowrun, and while it wasn’t the kind of Shadowrun game I was after, it did allow for 360 players to play with PC players. The Playstation 3 had similar success with Portal 2 where you could play co-operatively with a PC player. It was all well done, seamless, and well-received.

Now though, The Xbox One gets more press time for it’s handling of PC to console gaming mainly on the backbone of Xbox’s infrastructure between the two. But some individual developers like Psyonix have made both Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 play with other PC players in Rocket League. But recently Psyonix announced that they figured out how to get the Xbox One and Playstation 4 to play with each other.

Now there’s still the concern of some political or business dealings that may block the idea from happening completely. But I sure hope it doesn’t. For a developer like Psyonix it means that what used to be a fractured set of three populations of players could all play together. For a developer that is incredible. What happens when you get a game and you can’t find a connection or enough players? If you’re anything like me you put the game away and rarely think of pulling it out afterwards. It’s in every developer’s best interest to want to pull the populations together. It will lead to a longer multiplayer shelf life of the game.

Aside from that it opens up new possibilities of match variants and competitions. Xbox vs. Playstation could be huge in titles like Battlefield or Mortal Kombat. Or for a game like The Division, I could see a PC player guiding the console gamers with an isometric view of the action and trying to better coordinate attacks. There’s a lot of possibility out there and I hope it gets fleshed out.

It’s my suspicion though that we won’t hear about what happens (good or bad) until E3. E3 is short for the Electronics Entertainment Expo held in Los Angeles in June. It’s where all the game companies come together and show what they are working on and plan to release typically over the next year. It’s also the time all forms of press converge and so it’s the perfect opportunity to make an announcement about something like Rocket League becoming cross-network playable.

Crazy how what is mostly a war waged on the forum battlegrounds might actually be raised by the talent of your gameplay. It makes for very exciting stuff. At least to me.

A New Way of Doing Things

Recently, I crossed into six years of having an Xbox console. Over those six years, I’ve managed to play about 244 games across the 360 and the One. It might seem like a big number, but that also includes games I haven’t touched but still have a copy of or games where I earned an achievement at any time. But pretty early on in my playing I got addicted to the achievement system.

For the uninitiated, achievements started with the launch of the Xbox 360, and are included in every Xbox-platform title. You can earn them for doing something as little as simply turning the machine on, or as difficult as earning every possible medal in the online portion of a game. Each of said achievements gives you gamerscore, a number that is used to boast about your completions to other players. Usually, the more difficult the achievement, the higher number it awards.

cheevosAt this moment, according to TrueAchievements.com (a fantastic site by the way which is useful for news, community, and of course, for completing games or the achievements), my gamerscore is sitting at 96,107, with a completion percentage of 52.24. It’s to the point with the massive number of games and achievements I could earn, that to earn a single percentage point I would need to earn roughly 86 achievements. That’s typically the allotment from a game and a half… and let me tell you, that can be maddening. Especially with some of the achievements taking a large amount of time to complete. It can only lead to me having some games sit on a physical or digital shelf and simply be unplayed. How bad is it? In the last months I have played through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the first time. Or how among the titles that I have yet to play or complete include Half-Life 2, Blue Dragon, Resident Evil 4, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and I could truly go on. But the point is, I feel like I need to re-evaluate how I play games. There are still some that I will want to find all the collectibles in (Alan Wake in particular stands out, since most collectibles have a narrative purpose), but for the most part I believe I will just play what I want to.

As such, even if I am streaming, I believe I will be changing how I prioritize what I want to play. It’ll follow a very simple principle of what do I WANT to play over  what do I want to complete? I thin this will lead to more of a “thinning of the herd” so to speak. It’s already reflected in my stream as I have recently begun playthroughs of both Ultimate DOOM and Shadow of Mordor. You can look at those streams here at YouTube Gaming.

Do you feel any kind of similar tug-of-war over how you play? Le the know in the comments and let’s talk it out!