• Management

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    Gaming

    🎮 💻 On Xbox closing down several studios

    This week’s decision by Xbox to close entire studios stunned me. The nightmare of widespread layoffs in the industry doesn’t seem to seize. I’m disappointed of this particular piece of news for several reasons.

    I genuinely root for Xbox’s vision of play anywhere. Game Pass and demolishing platform exclusives are pro-gamer pillars in their strategy. That said, Game Pass is not all good news for game developers. It can give critical exposure, especially to smaller titles, but in other cases it can also erode sales and thus commercial success. In my region Game Pass for PC goes for 10 euros/month. Considering the library and how often it’s updated it’s an extremely good value - but does it work?

    Closing entire studios wipes out whole work cultures. This is substantially different to e.g. canceling a project, partially reducing workforce or pivoting to a new direction. In these examples, the intangibles of what makes a great team can be largely retained. Closing an entire studio extinguishes something invisible in addition to the business itself.

    A sound business decision for Xbox is beyond the scope of a single studio. This is not a rant against capitalism, it’s not the point. I am disappointed because the studio closures show the worst of having a multi-studio corporate owner, VC or the like. Xbox itself is not Microsoft - citing Microsoft’s overall profit is almost irrelevant. Xbox may derive more value by closing a studio than selling it, e.g because of IP ownership and competition considerations. What hurts is that had the studios been viewed in isolation and with a more fully vested owner they might have been considered viable.

    Ultimately, I believe Xbox made the decisions that support its long-term goals best. Their operating profit based on FTC leaks from last year is in the 10% ballpark. Revenue for Xbox grew only by virtue of the Activition Blizzard acquisition. The gaming industry hasn’t meaningfully grown in the past year and feels very saturated. Clearly, both Arkane Austin, following the Redfall flop, and Tango Gameworks, following Shinji Mikami’s departure, would have a challenging road ahead. I don’t believe the studios were judged only on the basis of their most recent performance. It’s about future outlook and profit appetite.

    Taking all into account, I’m still left wondering if the corporations consolidating the gaming industry at the moment are truly building the world game developers and gamers want to see. This is why I’m having such a hard time reconciling this particular blow from Xbox.

    Friday May 10, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 First day of the season at our (rural) cottage. Trying to figure out if Geforce Now will surprise me even at low bandwidth with low expectations. Using the free tier for testing: “Gamers ahead of you: 186”. 🧘 Meanwhile my Steam Deck OLED fever is raging but I’m resisting (so far) 😅

    Saturday March 30, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 Massive list of fixes with Starfield’s March update. Almost too long, makes me wonder why they didn’t release at least part of them in February. At least one bug I was suffering from frequently is gone. Good stuff.

    Tuesday March 19, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 Giving Starfield another go and it’s been growing on me. There is something about letting me ease in all its systems at my own pace. It has issues but at this point I can’t accept blatant thrashing of the game or Bethesda. Starfield gives you space to get into it and enjoy it. Pun intended. 🚀

    Tuesday March 12, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 Finished Disco Elysium as a confused superstar cop 😎 and a true blue moralist 🤷🏻‍♂️ Happy to have taken a bit different path as it was the second time I picked up the game. Surprisingly, the ZA/UM legal mess bugs me enough to affect how I feel about the game. Some sort of irrational guilt.

    Thursday February 8, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 When I left the Xbox behind in favor of PC, I also lost a couple of games (and saves). Just had the urge to jump into Disco Elysium again but turns out I don’t have it in my PC library. I find this particularly frustrating with the Xbox/MS store as it’s supposed to be an ecosystem.

    Saturday January 27, 2024
  • Gaming

    🎮 I am on a trip for 10 days which means I left my PC behind. Figured I’d try GeForce Now on a Samsung TV. It’s running Alan Wake II better than my home setup. 😐 Sure, the underlying cloud rig is better than what I have, 4080 vs 4070, but the quality still leaves me stunned.

    Monday December 18, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Finished Alan Wake II last night 🔦 This is not a game, it’s a work of art. Last month my partner had to do a photo assignment for uni and I got an Alan Wake inspired portrait 📷 on the side. I’ve been waiting to celebrate beating the game by publishing it on the blog. ❤️🖤

    Saturday December 2, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Bought Hogwarts Legacy on sale. Only after that read reviews and remembered the controversy around the game. On one side people (and media) boycotting it due to J. K. Rowling’s bigoted views, on the other - criticisms of the game being too woke. I’m left… just deeply sad thinking about it all. 😞

    Monday November 27, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 BG3 patch notes read like Federal Bureau of Control documents. You wouldn’t like to know that ◼️happened to ◼️ as an unexpected spoiler. In other news progressing with Alan Wake II 🔦

    Sunday November 5, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Good morning, 2023-10-27! Alan Wake II downloading…

    Friday October 27, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 The plot lines in Baldur’s Gate 3 are so good! I’m genuinely curious what is going to happen and how it could have played out had I chosen differently. It’s so hard to discuss anything without risking spoilers - this says a lot!

    Monday September 25, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 I’ve been wondering if I could let go of my Xbox Series S in favor of my PC. It’s a tough call. PCs just tend to not just work. Currently, it seems I have an unstable bluetooth connection. ”Mostly works” is the worst! The Xbox is seamless.

    Sunday September 10, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Remote downloading Baldur’s Gate 3 on my way home 🧝‍♀️

    Friday September 1, 2023
  • Casual

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    Gaming

    📓🎮 Last day of summer vacation. The highlight that will stick with me is a visit to Tampere. Really liked the vibe of the city. Throwback to some retro gaming and a Stimpak cocktail at the Lategame bar and cafe.

    Person in a white t-shirt sitting on a couch with two small dogs at a game bar.
    Tuesday August 15, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 The Best Games from GMTK Game Jam 2023 video is out! Mind-blown by the creativity of game devs under severe time pressure 🤯

    Saturday July 22, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Been playing TotK for about a week. Only now something in the back of my mind clicked. The construction mechanic reminds me of The Incredible Machine games of the past - the freedom, clunkiness and surprising effectiveness of weird contraptions 🤓

    Thursday July 20, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 🍿 I’ve been playing Cyberpunk 2077 recently and decided to give the Edgerunners anime a go. Super impressed, not only with the plot but how it represents the game world.

    Thursday June 22, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Finally getting a grip of Warhammer 40k: Mechanicus on the iPad so that Necrons don’t mop the floor with me on the easy missions… But damn does it crash, 20 min lost just before clearing a tomb 😖

    Tuesday May 23, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Battleheart Legacy (2014)

    Darn where did the last couple of hours vanish just now! Available on Apple Arcade, and to my surprise I could play it with the touchpad of my iPad’s Brydge.

    Wednesday February 8, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

    Finally picked this one up on sale. Seems I prefer only occasional gun fights to everything else. Especially enjoy riding and bonding with my horse 🐴

    Sunday January 22, 2023
  • Gaming

    🎮 The Callisto Protocol - better than the reviews, but still…

    I had been eagerly waiting for the release of The Callisto Protocol in the end of 2022. From the minds of Dead Space creators, Callisto is a spiritual successor to this survival horror classic. I have to be honest - maybe too much so. After the first couple of hours, I felt that there wasn’t enough of a novelty to have justified my pre-order. Nor to back up claims such as bringing survival horror to the 2020s. This remains a fair warning.

    That said, Callisto is an extremely well crafted and high quality cinematic experience. As I kept immersing myself in the world of the game, my initial sense of disappointment diminished. Still, I feel the development team overestimated the novelty of the close combat system. It is, however, really satisfying once you embrace its way of creating flow. If this was paired with a more captivating story, it would have taken the game to the next level. Alas, it is what it is.

    Gameplay won’t appeal to many, but chances are if you are Dead Space fan - you’d be fulfilled. Progression is linear, encounters scripted with little left to chance. This is perfectly fine, I enjoyed pre-planning and experimenting with difficult encounters, alongside improving my command of controls. Speaking of controls, there are a few rough edges around weapon swapping but it really forces you to remain composed and intentional under pressure.

    In the end, I’m very happy with The Callisto Protocol and can absolutely recommend it. Seeing the level of polish of its visuals and fusion of cinematics with combat, it’s frustrating the whole package has some flaws that keep the game in the “Great” and not “Hall of Fame” category.

    The Callisto Protocol poster

    Sunday January 15, 2023
  • Casual

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    Gaming

    🎮 Signalis - survival horror excellence (I didn't expect)

    Had someone asked me 10 minutes in, I wouldn’t have thought Signalis would have grasped me the way it did. Some of my favorite games of my childhood are of the likes of Resident Evil 3 and Silent Hill. Signalis inescapably reminds me of the retro survival horror classics. The game is true to its inspirations down to the sometimes clumsy mechanics and restrictions, such as no autosaves.

    The magnetic draw of the game, however, is far deeper than its aesthetics. The whole narrative design in my opinion is outstanding. Signalis is a true tribute to indie craftsmanship. The core game team of the rose-engine is 2 people and the care put into the game seeps through its every pore.

    Writing this as I just finished my run, I feel deeply satisfied with my experience. The puzzles were generally simple, yet not insultingly so. There is, of course, action in the game but far from the spotlight. The limited inventory, enforces resource scarcity even when things are good. Everything just works together, as you get sucked in the tense mystic atmosphere. And at least I feel fully rewarded for my time and attention.

    Signalis poster

    Saturday November 12, 2022
  • Casual

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    Gaming

    🎮 Woah, The Return to Monkey Island popped up on Game Pass! I hold the first two games so dear, and the new one hits me right in the feels. Pity I won’t remember all the references!

    Saturday November 12, 2022
  • Casual

    ,

    Gaming

    🎮 The Ascent: only short of a masterpiece

    I’ve been playing The Ascent recently and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It’s a memorable, satisfying twin-stick shooter - RPG cross. I highly recommend it! Still, it’s not a hall-of-fame masterpiece and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I have nothing but admiration for the small (10 people or so) development team that managed to pull off this fantastic production!

    The game world is beautifully crafted! This GDC talk by Tor Frick, was a pleasure to watch! Neon Giant took a disciplined approach to simplicity, powered by practical specialized tools to ensure consistency with the art direction at all times. The end result of the team’s effort is a stunning neon-colored sci-fi haven. I felt as if I’m in the world of the Neuromancer. The action is satisfying, the items, enemies and quests - plentiful.

    So what’s missing… Ten hours in, which is reasonably much for me, I still don’t feel hooked to the main story and this is unlikely to change. What brings me back is the world aesthetic as a whole.

    While there is an impressive amount of weapons and items, I feel I’ve quickly converged on a build and skill leveling strategy. I may be wrong, but I don’t get the feeling I can play the game in a substantially different way. That said I’ve watched some streamers with distinct styles of their own.

    The Ascent is a bit glitchy on my Xbox Series S - I don’t think I’ve had any other game on this console crash on me as often. But it’s nothing that ruins my gaming experience. This is one area, perhaps, where it shows it wasn’t the biggest team making the game. Overall performance is quite good.

    I’m looking forward to future productions by Neon Giant. The Ascent is an amazing, if not outstanding, gaming experience. I haven’t tried its multiplayer, but if this is your cup of tea - I imagine it delivers. I feel the game’s elusive shortcomings won’t see me complete the main story… and this is weirdly disappointing already.

    Friday September 16, 2022