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super mario underwater

Last week I went over the five features that I think every game should have. You can see it over there, at the top of the Most Popular bar (take that, Miklos) *brushes shoulders off*.

This week I’m doing the Ying to that Yang with five “features” that every developer needs to cast aside immediately, locked away in the Jumanji box forever. With that obscure reference out of the way, let’s get to the list.

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Google Chromebook header

Google Chrome is known for being one of the faster and more fluid browsers out there, regularly showing up the more established competition like Microsoft and Mozilla. However this speed comes at a price and it’s been known for a while that Chrome is a system resource hog – it regularly chews up gigabytes of RAM on my system and it uses the GPU as much as possible to accelerate the UI and certain content shown in the web page. But according to Forbes, Chrome has long been a hog for a different reason altogether – they pin is as the source of a lot of unnecessary battery drain. Hit the jump to find out more.

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the forest cannibal

Games are unique, beautiful snowflakes. Or, sometimes, horrible, misshapen snowflakes that make grown men cry.

That being said, just like every meal can be improved with bacon, there are certain things that every game should have. These are those things.

Disclaimer: Yes, I do realise that not every single thing can be unilaterally applied to every game – Tetris doesn’t really need a storyline and Super Meat Boy wouldn’t benefit from a quicksave feature. So, you know, adjust accordingly.

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Microsoft Surface 2 running Windows 8.1

Earlier today I reported that Microsoft would be stemming Windows 7 development from 13 January 2015, putting the ageing, but still ever-popular OS into extended support, with Windows 8 mainstream support not far behind. Given that many consider Windows 8 to be the Modern equivalent of Vista and although it hasn’t failed in the same way Vista did, it didn’t make nearly the impact that Microsoft had hoped for in the consumer space. Windows 9 promises to fix up many of the issues that users have taken with the OS and I was really looking forward to it.

That is, of course, until I read rumors from a reliable leaker about the new activation system said to come in Windows 9.

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You may have gathered from some of my previous columns that Ubisoft isn’t exactly my favourite company.

It’s not because I don’t like their games (which, generally, I don’t), but more because of the way they treat the people who do.

I plan on never buying a Ubisoft title. Here’s why.

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There is a man who makes $10,000 a day because 27 million people want to watch him play video games. That man is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie. The majority of the YouTube videos he creates see him alternating between screaming, spouting stream-of-consciousness musings and delivering bad puns (but hey, who am I to judge?). In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, PewDiePie revealed he makes $4 million annually from his YouTube channel, and is (to his credit) keenly aware of his influence.

The story came at the same time Gamasutra’s Mike Rose wrote an article titled “Is YouTube killing the traditional games press?“. Rose interviewed developers who stated that, while traditional games press may provide exposure, it was getting covered by popular “YouTubers” that resulted in notable sale spikes. Elsewhere, Anita Sarkeesian released her latest Tropes vs. Women in Video Games episode, an excellent 30-minute breakdown of women as virtual background decoration and the systemised rewarding of deeply sexist and discomforting in-game actions. Polygon games journalist  Brian Crecente livestreamed his process for writing articles by… well, writing an article live.

“Everything is compelling when someone is streaming it live,” he wryly comments.

They and others like them represent the new emerging media surrounding coverage and critical analysis of video games. It’s often raw, but occasionally superbly produced. It’s personable and warm in the way that writing can never be. I’m all for it. I’m also wary of it; it has lessons for gamers and media alike, but I’m concerned about some of the conclusions being drawn from this growing movement.

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old lady gamer

It happens to all of us. We get old, we get cranky, we start playing Earthworm Jim again. At a certain point, as our life stress increases and our free time decreases, as our bones get denser, our asses fatter and our reflexes slower, we undergo certain… changes in how we play games. Are you worried you might be approaching the top of the hill? Check out this list, and then use the handy guide at the bottom to find out what kind of gamer you are.

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It almost feels like there needs to be an E3 controversy each year. This year Ubisoft has provided the vocal gaming public with something to critique. If you’ve been keeping up with the E3 news then I’m sure you’re aware of what I’m talking about: Ubisoft’s decision to cut female playable characters from the co-op portion of Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Now, however, in a perfect example of poor timing and developer stumbles, Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson has revealed that his game almost allowed for a choice between male or female co-op partner avatars as well.

So that’s two of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises at this year’s E3 admitting that they had thought about but later cancelled the option to play as a female character in co-op. For both games the developers claimed that this was all down to limited resources and timing. Is that a good excuse or is it just another endemic phenomenon of the corporate status of AAA gaming titles?

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Head in Hands

E3 is underway, and every day we’re treated to exciting announcements; mostly new game announcements and fresh looks at games we’re looking forward to.

I think, however, it could be MORE exciting. A lot more. In that spirit, I’ve compiled my own list of announcements I’d like to see this week, but very likely won’t.

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While Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs goes on to achieve some very interesting sales numbers and garners a lot of interest from retarded politicians in the US-of-A claiming that the game teaches children how to hack into phones, I feel that what’s going in between the lines that the game wants to convey is a message far more important and – indeed for cities who already are moving into a ctOS-like environment connected to the internet – a lesson in how consumers, governments and companies SHOULD view and protect Big Data and the Internet of Things.

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