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Why Global Launches Don’t Always Work

UPDATE: The Pokémon Bank has re-appeared on the eShop globally, with a release date of TBD. It is unknown at this time as to actually when it will go live, however the Nintendo Network and eShop are back online.

 

UPDATE 2: Nintendo has publicly apologized for the server outages, and had reassured the Pokémon Bank is still forthcoming, with ‘letting us know as soon as they know more’.

 

Nintendo had a great idea, launching Pokémon X and Y globally on the same day, instead of their tried and true staggered release by region. It put up some great numbers worldwide, but now that the hype has died down, and the Poke Bank poised to come out, Nintendo has had issues with their server infrastructure since Christmas Day. This is most likely due to all the new Wii U’s and 3DS’s powering on and trying to sync up for the first time. Nintendo’s plan for the Pokémon Bank (a 3DS app that allows you to store up to 3000 Pokémon in the cloud, as well as transfer Pokémon from the previous generation games) was a staggered release, First Japan on Christmas, then globally on the 27th. However, with all the traffic of registering new Nintendo Network ID’s, and the Japanese 3DS’s attempting to download the Pokémon Bank, this has caused a major system crash on Nintendo’s back-end. It has been a little over 24 hours, and most services have already been restored, with major outlets still reporting outages for the Miiverse and eShop. Furthermore, Nintendo has removed the Pokémon Bank from the Japanese eShop, and disabled it’s functionality, citing the application as one of the causes of the system crash. I believe this comes form a lack of a proper public stress test, like most MMO’s (and some online ARPG’s) do. A public stress test, in simple terms, is releasing your beta client publicly, and asking the broader internet community to come try your game for a short period of time, typically 2-3 days. This kind of test shows you how well your servers handle multiple logins from multiple regions, how many it can handle at once, and can also show you if you need more server power or bandwidth to host your service or game. If your servers handle the strain well, you can fine tune them before rolling out the full version of your service or game. Looking how this was situation was handled, a proper public stress test has never been done on Nintendo’s eShop and Miiverse services, and the lack of this knowledge on how to handle this new influx of traffic further cements this.

In short, Nintendo launched a new app for the 3DS that showed them a weakness in their server infrastructure. Hopefully they can get this fixed and stay on schedule for the Pokémon Bank to release in North America and the rest of the world on the 27th.

Game Dev Spotlight: Teroh’s RPG Hangout

Teroh’s RPG Hangout is a game developers blog about my buddy Teroh’s game project that he’s been working on for a few years now. If this game is the one I’m thinking of (thinking waaaay back to our high school years) Lets take a look at what he’s working on. Teroh, take it away!

Embark on a quest to save the land from the New Age of Darkness!

The land has fallen on dark times. The Cult of Darkenss seeks to open a gateway to summon their demonic master!

Take the role of Ryan, descendant of the powerful Geomancers, masters of elemental magic. Steel your nerves, and prepare yourself for a journey like never before!

Scour the land in search of allies. Every ally you find will add their own powerful abilities to aid in your quest. Crawl through unique dungeons, filled with horrible monsters and valuable treasures!

Be careful, as the Cult’s greatest general, Zelf, will try to stop you at every turn. Stop him and the Cult of Darkness, and destroy their demonic master once and for all!

Over 40 classes and hundreds of spells and skills to try. Make each character your own! Craft unique items that can change how your skills work. Add powerful fire damage, or a chance to freeze your foes in ice!

Embrace your past, master your destiny, and save the land from eternal darkness!

If you wish to learn more, head on over to http://gamemakere.wordpress.com/ and take a look around! He’s always looking for new alpha/beta players and feedback!

With Christmas coming up, I will be taking a sabbatical from writing while I travel home to my mother’s. That being said, I wanted to show off a friend of mines blog to keep everyone entertained while I’m gone. I will be resuming (hopefully!) a weekly blog post with the new year.

Laptops Vs. Desktops: The Pros and Cons

I’ve heard a lot of chatter at college lately about wether your better off with a desktop computer or a laptop in certain situations, most notably for gaming. Personally, im all for having a desktop; it’s easy to upgrade (if you know how to upgrade it), come with extra slots on the motherboard for expansion, and are generally less expensive than a equivalent laptop. However, laptops are more portable, fairly light, and generally have larger single screen displays than a desktop. It all really depends on what you want to get out of your machine. For example, if you want:

  • portability
  • wireless keyboard (technically) and mouse
  • small form factor

Then you would want a  laptop. That being said, if you want:

  • are sitting at a desk most of your day
  • have a separate computer for work
  • don’t want to have a computer on you all the time

Save yourself the trouble and just get a desktop.

 

 

 

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Hardware Review: Nintendo 3DS XL

353704-nintendo-3ds-xlNow that I have finally had a chance to get my hands on a Nintendo 3DS,  I can finally get off the fence about whether it’s worth picking one up, or, if your more financially savvy, settling for the 2DS. Nintendo originally released the 3DS in the United States in March of 2011, originally priced at $249.  Four months later, the price was cut to $169 to help bolster sales. They also offered early adopters who paid the original price ten NES Virtual Console games and ten Game Boy Advance games able to be downloaded to their 3DS, at no extra charge, as part of their new 3DS Ambassador program, on top of releasing the 3DS XL. Fast forward to October 2013, and Nintendo released the 2DS, a redesign of a 3DS, capable of playing 3DS games, without the 3-D technology in the screens.

The 3DS XL has a 5″ widescreen display, while the bottom screen is a 4.1″ touchscreen. It weighs about 12 ounces, and lasts about 6 hours on its battery playing a 3DS game. Having eyesight issues myself, the 3-D is lost on me, however the larger screens over the base model really help visibility. Imagine you have a regular 3DS. You almost need to have a magnifying glass to see writing on the screen. This can be especially difficult to read, especially with playing role-playing games (RPG). One of the biggest games to come out thus far is Pokémon X and Pokémon Y versions, the first entries into the 6th generation of the gaming franchise.

Overall, my experience with the 3DS XL has been spectacular. It has undergone the rigors of being owned by a college student, being toted back and forth in my backpack. My girlfriend actually dropped in on the ground taking it out of my bag, scuffing up the shoulder buttons, but everything is still functional. My particular 3DS has also spent several hours in my pocket, as it doubles as a pedometer, and a fairly accurate one at that.

Once you get used to the new controls over the previous DS model, the DSi, it really is a machine worth picking up.

 

Video Games and Their Benefits

Ah, video games. One of my first true hobbies, I’ve been playing video games since I was still in diapers. Games such as Super Mario Bros. and Pac-Man were some of the very first games I played, and still play to this day on occasion. I usually stuck to playing platforming games, until Christmas Day, 1999. It was on that day I received my copy of Pokémon Blue. As I got older, my gaming preferences changed. It has gotten me thinking: How different would I be if I HADN’T been introduced to video games?

It’s generally accepted that video games help improve hand eye coordination. The first time I ever picked up an Xbox 360 controller, when I wanted to do something, I would have to look down at my hands to find the button on the controller, watch myself press the button, and look up to the screen again only to find out I pressed the button too late, and now my character on-screen is dead. Over time, I slowly learned the layout of the controller, and was relying on sight of the controller less and less, until i could find the right button on touch alone. The same is true even with a computer. The more you use something, the more familiar you become with how to use it, and you can apply this type of hand eye coordination to other things, like playing tennis or writing notes without looking at your paper.

Video games also improve your ability to multitask. For example, play a game of Pac-Man. In Pac-Man, you must navigate our hero along his path, while avoiding the paths of four ghosts, clearing out little dots and keeping track of how many big dots are left, and picking up the fruit that appears in the middle of the maze. You need to be able to make split-second decisions to keep Pac-Man from dying, all while micromanaging his path through the maze. This is like driving on the highway. On the highway, you have your path, other drivers are following their path, while trying not to crash into others, all while all sorts of distractions both inside and outside your vehicle.

Playing video games has its benefits and drawbacks. Most people tend to focus on its drawbacks, completely ignoring the benefits that can be gained. Many times I’ve built on the critical thinking and motor skills I gained from playing games at an early age.

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Building a Gaming Computer on a Budget

Now that you know some dos and don’ts of buying a computer, let’s talk about building one from scratch! If you have never built your own desktop computer from scratch,  never looked at the inside of your computer tower, or have always bought a pre-built machine from a store, this guide should be a good starting point. Now, our budget for this computer is $500, and does not include a monitor, mouse, or keyboard.

When buying computer parts on your own, make sure to shop around, especially online. Online stores like TigerDirect and NewEgg have many options and bundles for you to choose from, all of which are competitively priced. One of these bundles actually caught my eye while I was there:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Quad-Core Processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 1 GB Graphics card
  • DVD-ROM/Burner Drive
  • 600 Watt Power Supply Unit
  • Black Computer Case

This particular bundle is about $460, after tax and shipping the total was $486. This computer can play newer video games on medium-high graphical settings. I wouldn’t recommend trying to play Skyrim or Crysis on max settings with this computer though, you might overheat the graphics card. This build also relies on the buyer having a monitor, mouse, and keyboard already on hand. If you do not, add about $200 more to this build’s price.

You don’t need a lot of money to experience games looking their best, nor do you need the most expensive setup to do so either.

Buying a Computer: Dos and Don’ts

The video game industry brings in about $25 billion a year. Modern personal computers owe many advancements and innovations to the game industry: sound cards, graphics cards and 3D graphic accelerators, faster CPUs, and dedicated co-processors like Physx are a few of the more notable improvements. If you are a gamer, and I mean more than playing Candy Crush on Facebook, here are some tips to show you how to buy yourself your dream gaming computer, all while keeping within your personal budget.

Determine your budget. This seems like an obvious first step, but one that is all too often overlooked. For example, I built my desktop in 2008. I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $350, and it, to this day, still runs games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Star Wars: The Old Republic on medium-high graphical settings, with a constant 45-60 frames per second, or fps. However, that budget did not include a new monitor, mouse, or keyboard, just the components in the tower. You may want to include an extra $200 for these items.

Don’t buy a pre-built machine. Companies like Alienware and Razer build very nice and fancy machines. However, a majority of your cost in those machines comes from the branding. These are for dedicated gamers, who thrive on competitive gaming, like Dyrus from Team Solomid, a League of Legends professional team. The Alienware X51 starts with a price tag of $1,400, and that’s with just bare-bones options, not including a mouse, monitor, or keyboard.

Shop around for the best bargain. You never know where you’re gonna find the best price. This tip comes from personal experience. I was working on my previously mentioned desktop, when one of the RAM Memory sticks burned out. Thinking I could get a cheap replacement locally, I headed to my local computer parts store, a small place called Computer Reboot. When I arrived, I explained what I needed, and requested a replacement RAM stick, 2 gigabytes (GB) in size. I paid close to $60. Semi-content, I ventured to NewEgg to compare prices on RAM sticks. I was upset to see the very same RAM I had purchased in-store was available for $20, with free shipping. By attempting to support my local businesses, I ended up paying triple what I needed to. Now, this may not always be the case everywhere. Who knows? Maybe your local computer shop has huge discounts all the time!

So, if you’re looking to buy yourself a new gaming desktop computer, following these simple guideline can help you save time, money, and future headaches.

 

Cloud Storage and Everyday Use

The World Wide Web, more commonly called the Internet, has many features and usages available to its users, one of which is cloud storage. Cloud storage allows users to store files on various Web sites. Users typically opt to use this type of storage if they do not want to store data locally on a hard drive[1] or other type or portable media. When storing data using cloud storage, the user must find the proper Web site. Some sites support only certain file types, while others offer more than just storage.

Different Web sites provide different types of cloud storage. For example, Google’s e-mail program, Gmail, is an example of cloud storage that is specifically designed to store e-mail messages. YouTube also supports cloud storage. YouTube is different from Gmail because it only stores digital videos. Windows Live SkyDrive is a cloud storage provider that accepts any type of file. Sites such as SkyDrive can be used as backup or extra storage space.

According To Ford and Garland’s book, The Internet: Cloud Storage, some cloud storage sites also offer other services. Flickr, for example, provides cloud storage for digital photos and allows users to manage their photos and share them with others. Facebook provides cloud storage for multiple file types, including digital photos, digital videos, messages, and personal information. Facebook also provides a means of social networking. Google Docs not only stores documents, spreadsheets, and other files in the cloud, it also allows users to create and edit these documents[2].

With cloud storage, the possibilities are almost endless. Multiple Web sites offer different types of storage to fit anyone’s needs. Some even give users extra services. Cloud storage is useful when collaborating with others on projects, especially those who one can not meet in person.


[1] According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a hard drive is “a data-storage device consisting of a drive and one or more hard disks.”

[2] For more information, use the Web to search for Flickr, Facebook, and Google Docs.


Works Cited

Carter, Leona. “Cloud Storage and the Internet.” Internet Usage and Trends Mar. 2012: 23-37. Print.

Ford, Rebecca A., and Harry I. Garland. The Internet: Cloud Storage. 2 Jan. 2012. Web. Course Technology. 7 Mar. 2012.

Gaff, Robert M. Working with the Internet: Cloud Storage. New York: Jane Lewis Press, 2012. Print.

Hard Drive – Definition and More. n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.