Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gaming Year In Review: 2016

It's hard for me to come up with a review of the year 2016 when it comes to gaming because, quite frankly, I have felt like more often than not I have been out of the loop. Regarding the trending news on gaming and the hot topics that drove the Gaming Industry in 2016, I felt like I got lost in the shuffle by leaps and bounds as a consumer. I didn't at all feel like I was a part of anything aside from one important project, which the above picture is a hint of. Aside from finally getting Punchy Business off the ground and swinging punches at the development stages of its demo, I don't feel like I have accomplished a lot in gaming circles.

Yes, I got to go to GDEX (formerly OGDE) in Columbus again, and that was obviously fun since it's not everyday I do something like that, but really when it comes to getting down and making something in gaming, I felt like I missed some opportunities. It wasn't until midway through 2016 when I got the help I needed. After initially writing the manuscript for Punchy Business way back in 2008, it took 8 years for me to finally see something that I had envisioned come to life. I'm hoping that this alone illustrates a problem in the Gaming Industry when it comes to folks and their willingness to reach out and help those who want to start making something in gaming circles. When people ask for help, they should receive it as soon as they can without so much hesitation.

Nintend-Ho-Hum! Blah's the Way We Go!

Now when it comes to mainstream gaming, I have to say that 2016 was a pretty "blah" year when it came to surprising developments. I mean "blah" as in it was just there, not that the developments we got were bad. Nintendo announcing that they start publishing their games on Apple devices like the iPhone? Okay. Fine. That's good, but it's nothing super groundbreaking, if you know what I mean. That kind of news isn't compelling enough for me to quickly report about.

Now regarding the Nintendo Switch, formerly named the Nintendo NX, that was something VERY significant because this marks yet another change in course for the Gaming Industry. Yet again we're getting a new console that we'll have to start wondering about. Discussion about new gaming stuff is always interesting. The introduction to the Switch basically means that Nintendo has abandoned its support for the Wii U, which, let's face it folks, was a bit of a letdown in comparison to the original Wii. Was the Wii U a bad console? No. Not necessarily. However, it could have been something more and it ended up being something "blah", just there.

YouTube, We Still Don't Like You

In other news YouTube is continuing to ruin general experiences for gamers as they are putting the kibosh on monetizing methods through their established programs. Of course, gamers who post their "Let's Play" content on YouTube will still get to monetize in general (barring obvious copyright issues), but the amount of money that they make for their videos has significantly gone down. What's worse is that reports are surfacing that YouTube is intentionally finding ways to take down the view count of gaming videos so that those videos won't be recommended when you first log on to the site. What in the world is this crap about?

As I have mentioned in posts of yesteryear, I don't see the harm in gamers putting out the content they want to share with others. It's free advertising for the game dev companies whenever one of their games is featured in a Let's Play. What's it to them if a Let's Play personality makes a few bucks off video production? All this talk about gray areas and whatnot (legal mumbo jumbo) needs to stop because quite frankly the legal experts on this issue don't know what they are talking about. They don't understand the language of a gamer, and more importantly, the under-privileged poor person, so what right do they have to defend YouTube?

Ultimately if you get rid of any and all economic incentives for the Let's Players to make their video content on YouTube, then guess what? You won't be getting your free advertising for your game, which will make it HARDER (not easier) for you to sell your game in the first place. Understand now?

Virtual Reality Gaming: Neutral Stance

Again, as I've said before on this blog, virtual reality gaming is fine to implement. Nothing wrong with VR in theory. My neutral stance on VR is what it is, though. I don't believe it's wise to put all your eggs in the VR gaming basket because I don't see this type of gaming overtaking the main way we've been gaming for decades now. I just don't see that happening. Realistically speaking you have to develop the VR games in moderation, and you have to play them in moderation. I consider VR gaming to be a big fad right now, but a fad that doesn't have staying power. There have been multiple attempts at VR gaming in years past, and look how those attempts turned out.

I do believe interesting gaming concepts can be found in the way that we create VR games. I do believe you can dig up a new mechanic through VR game development, and then turn around and implement that in a typical console/mobile gaming experience. I do believe that VR gaming is a valuable learning experience in itself.

Looking Ahead: Punchy Business

I am legitimately excited for the finishing touches to be put on my custom project called Punchy Business, a game concept about a boxing kangaroo who is trying to become the World Heavyweight Champion of a fictional world, but along the way he goes on a platforming adventure to save his big brother from the snares of rotten cheetahs and their wild cat peers. If you go up on the Sketchy Games website you will see the progress we have made so far. In January 2017 we are looking to finish this demo version off and then showcase it to gaming audiences. I want to get Punchy Business out there. I want to share what I know and what I see in Punchy Business with others. I want to share my views on gaming and game development with those who want to play this demo. That is what I find very important looking ahead to 2017.

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