Episode 46: “Retro”actively Speaking

We welcome Daniel Kayser back to Brookago this week to tell us about his new position as Editor-in-Chief and Director of Content of RETRO Magazine. We dig into Microsoft’s new holographic space helmet called HoloLens and talk about whether it’s the future of gaming. Chat about what Xbox One to PC game streaming might mean to consumers and try to figure out if all MMO’s should just go free-to-play after Elder Scrolls decides to drop subscriptions. Before we boogie out of episode 46 we ask the age old question “Are videogames too long?”

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Spawn On Me Episode 30: You Are My Destiny

D is for the Delight of playing. E is for the eternal gratitude that it’s finally here. S is for the….just kidding! We talk all things Destiny with the Brookago residents, Shareef Jackson and Daniel Moore! What do we think about the biggest game to be released so far this year? What did Bungie do correctly and what didn’t they do correctly?  Also, Microsoft is trying to buy Minecraft?  Check it out!

 Watch Our Epic Destiny Battle

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GTA V Next Gen drops on November 18th!

Rockstar finally shares when we will get to play its massive hit on our current gen platform of choice. I’m super excited to jump back into this world again and explore all the things I hadn’t before. The game looks amazing! Check out the press release below.

New York, NY, September 12, 2014 – Rockstar Games® is proud to announce that Grand Theft Auto V® will arrive on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft on November 18, 2014, with the PC version to follow on January 27, 2015. Visit <gp_link type=”http” loc=”//”> to see the all-new trailer today from 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC will feature a range of major visual and technical upgrades to make Los Santos and Blaine County more immersive than ever. In addition to increased draw distances and higher resolution, players can expect a range of additions and improvements including:

–       New activities;
–       New weapons;
–       New vehicles;
–       Additional wildlife;
–       Denser traffic;
–       New foliage system;
–       Enhanced damage and weather effects, and much more.

Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC will also feature enhanced radio selections, with over 100 additional new songs and new DJ mixes from returning DJs across the game’s 17 radio stations.

All players who pre-order the game will receive $1,000,000 in-game cash to spend across Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online.

A host of new, exclusive content also awaits for players returning from the PlayStation®3  and Xbox 360 versions including rare versions of classic vehicles to collect from across the Grand Theft Auto series such as the Dukes, the Dodo Seaplane and a faster, more maneuverable Blimp; activities, including wildlife photography; and new shooting range challenges, new weapons and more.

Enhancements to Grand Theft Auto Online include an increased player count, with online play now for up to 30 players on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One. All existing gameplay upgrades and Rockstar-created content released since the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online will also be available for the PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC with much more to come.

Existing players on PlayStation®3 or Xbox 360 will be able to transfer their current Grand Theft Auto Online characters and progression to their choice of PlayStation®4, Xbox One or PC. For more information about Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online for PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC, including a gallery of new screenshots, please visit <gp_link type=”http” loc=”//”>


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Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox One Timed Exclusive

Gamescom 2014 has been chock full of news announcements for Microsoft’s newest console. Their latest coup is the news that the sequel to developer Crystal Dynamics‘ 2013 hit Tomb Raider, will be Rise of the Tomb Raider and it will launch first on Xbox One during “holiday 2015″.  Just to clarify, the game will still be coming to the PS4 and PC but at a later, undetermined date. Don’t believe me? Listen to what Darrell Gallagher, Crystal Dynamics Head of Studio has to say:

Dear Tomb Raider Community,

As you may have seen, we’ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox. We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I’d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we’re creating at the studio.

Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past – we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.

We know that there are probably many more questions and concerns. Please do send them to us, and we’ll answer to the best of our ability. Meanwhile we’re going all out to try and make something truly special – the most ambitious Tomb Raider game ever built.


Darrell Gallagher

Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios

Microsoft is really banking on exclusives being the way to gain ground in this newest generation.  Will it work? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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8 Minutes of Quantum Break Gameplay…But Will You Want to Play It?

Gamescom 2014 is here and Microsoft opened the world’s largest games expo with their Xbox press conference. A metric ton of games were shown and discussed during the 90 minute conference. While there were some new game announcements, most of the games were shown previously at June’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The game that was previously announced but not shown was Remedy Games‘ Quantum Break. Well the wait for gameplay footage for this Xbox One exclusive is finally over with the 8 minute gameplay demo shown below:

[y=nlxIj6sT4uA height=400]

As you can see, graphically, the game looks absolutely stunning. Particle effects and dynamic lighting are thrown front and center to amaze and titillate. The footage shows the main game mechanic, the protagonist’s ability to manipulate time. As the main character, combat is completely changed by your ability to freeze time on enemies or small portions of the environment. Freezing time around an enemy, shooting at them, and then allowing the time to unfreeze and get bullets hailed at said baddies seems to be the way this mechanic is most utilized. The question I had after watching this video is: “Why do I want to do any of this?”.

The game seems beautiful, yes, but I don’t know if spamming a ‘gimmick’ button is the way to make a compelling game. While I walked away less than impressed with the footage shown, I’m willing to give the makers of the excellent Alan Wake the benefit of the doubt. Be sure to check back with us as we learn more about this game in the months leading up to its 2015 release.

What are your thoughts on the video and the game?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Xbox One July Update Preview Details

The newest monthly update for the Xbox One has been pushed down to preview beta members.  The update, scheduled for a July release, isn’t as substantial as June’s release but what lacks in bullet points it makes up for in quality features.   The  improvements for which you can look forward are as follows:

Snap-able Achievements

As if the team at Microsoft has been listening in on my XBL chat conversations and have finally added the ability to snap the achievement list for your current game or app.  A growing trend with Xbox One gamers is their apathy towards achievements. It’s my belief that it’s not because achievements are passe but because viewing them on the console is such a hassle. Viewing the achievement that you just unlocked became so unruly that most people would have to wait until their gaming session had ended, or forego it completely. The ability to snap the achievements completely alleviates this issue.   Additionally, the new achievement list will put the toughest achievements at the top of the list. Pressing the A button will give you the option to favorite an achievement, moving it to the top of your list, or search the internet for help on said achievement. Time will tell if this rekindles user’s interest in getting 1000 points per game.

 Double Tap To Snap

Another move to dis-Kinect the console (couldn’t resist the pun), snapping apps is as easy as pushing the controller’s Xbox button twice. This will bring up the Snap Center apps list. This option is perhaps not as quick as saying “Xbox snap —-” but is much easier than some of the other controller based operating alternatives so far.

 Like Video Clips

In an effort to make user created video clips more social, users will be able to like clips using the Smartglass app (currently only available using the Smartglass beta app).  As of right now, the only place  to see the likes is via the Smartglass app. Perhaps a big screen addition will be made in a future update. 

 New Language Settings

Now Kiwis, the Irish and Austrians will be able to control their Xbox Ones using their native dialects.  Austrian German, New Zealand  and Irish English are now selectable language choices. You do not have to live in those areas to choose those languages either. How do you say “Xbox, Record That” in German? Somebody please tell me!

So there you have it.  These are the new additions that Xbox One users can look forward to next month. No official release date has been given but we’ll be sure to update you if and when we do find out. Do these additions make you a happy owner? Do you feel like Microsoft isn’t doing enough?  Let us know in the comments below.



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Spawn On Me Episode 17: 666% of E3 Predictions

When Shareef Jackson comes to hang out in Brookago we can’t put the podcast in the corner!  We go longform again as we talk Watch_Dogs extended review, Mario Kart 8 review and E3 previews and predictions for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Stubby Stan gets a little delirious & demonstrates why you should never ask him for a shout out.  Plus, the internet’s street was talking about it so it has been done: Agent Jackson vs. Stubby Stan – Mic Check as DMX number 1! Dope music by Sammus and much, much more!

Music Break Artist – Sammus

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Forza Horizon 2 is Today’s Intentional E3 Leak from Microsoft

Playground Studios, maker of the surprisingly fun Forza Horizon, announced today, via IGN that the rumored sequel is indeed a reality and will be shown at next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Forza Horizon 2 will be a joint venture with Playground Studios and the Forza Motorsports series maker Turn 10 Studios and will have a version of its big brother’s Drivatar feature-set.




The game will feature hundreds of vehicles headlined by the 2015 Lamborghini Huracan. Like its predecessor, the centerpiece is the Horizon Music festival so expect to hear lots of great tracks as you drive around the vistas of southern Europe. A weather system is also scheduled to make its debut; a first for a Forza game. Forza Horizon 2  is scheduled to be released on the Xbox One and the Xbox 360 this fall. Sumo Digital will be making the 360 version while the folks at Playground run lead development for the Xbox One.


This announcement pushes yet another game out of the rumor category and into the confirmed column for E3 which begs the question: “What’s left for Microsoft at E3?”.  Quantum Break has been pushed to 2015 and is rumored to not have a big presence, if any, at E3. Sunset Overdrive released several gameplay videos in advance of their press conference demo. Now Forza Horizon 2 is being announced early? How many other exclusive titles can we expect to see from Redmond come their June 9th press conference? It’s been confirmed that there will be a 2014 release within the Halo series but whether it’s the suspected Halo 2 Anniversary or the rumored Halo:The Master Chief Collection is anyone’s guess. Is this really enough to garner the mindshare of the gamers and other onlookers for arguably the biggest gaming news day of the year? I don’t think so.



It’s already known that the Sony first-party title, The Order:1886,  has been delayed to 2015, leaving the one exclusive title that we know about from the Japanese game maker being the already delayed Drive Club. The news of the Sony delays put Microsoft in a very good position, seemingly desperate for positive momentum, going into E3 but it looks like they’re unnecessarily deflating their own hype balloon by announcing so many things early.  Are you still excited for the E3 console press conferences?  What games would you like to see that haven’t been announced/confirmed as of yet? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Xbox, New Xbox Experience

The Xbox One update 1406 has just been released to beta previewers and it looks to be one of the more significant, outward facing updates yet.

 What’s in a Name?

In another move that shows that Sony’s Playstation 4 is heading in the right direction, one of the first inclusions in the update is the ability for users to use their real names online.  Soon the days of wondering who RighteousBong69 is will soon be over. That is, if he chooses. Users will have the option of providing their real name to all of their friends, none of their friends, or any combination therein. No, you cannot choose just your Favorites as of yet but it’s already been suggested to Microsoft so it may make it’s way into the update by the time it’s released to the public. Additionally, the user will have the option to allow friends of friends to see your real name in the hopes that friends once-removed will see it and add you.


All the Space You Need

FINALLY…external storage has come to the Xbox One! External storage support, promised before launch, has finally made it to the console. External hard drives must be USB 3.0 or higher and must have a capacity of 256 GB or higher. No word on if there is a maximum storage threshold. Also note that there is only one USB 3.0 port on the current Xbox One (the one on the left hand side of the console, next to the optical drive) so there won’t be an option to attach multiple HDDs simultaneously.


 We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Kinect 

There will also be some changes that clearly had the new Kinect-less Xbox One in mind.  Now in the settings is an option to instantly sign one of the local users by default, similar to the Xbox 360.  This replaces the bio-metric sign in functionality provided via Kinect. Additionally, the Pins section has received a modest tweak, limiting the number of tiles from infinite to 24 tiles, or a screen’s worth. Two rows of 8 tiles, set as you choose. The third row has 7 apps/games with the last tile being a helpful reminder that your additional tiels have not disappeared but can be accessed and/or added to the screen’s worth of pins using the Xbox One’s Smartglass app. Games and apps can still be accessed using the My Games & Apps tile at the home screen.


But Wait, There’s More!

The other noteworthy feature is the to determine how the Xbox handles your A/V components when turning the Xbox off and on. This option existed previous to this update but the user is a given a little more control in the form of individual options for turning each component off or on independent of each other. This move seems to have been made with the understanding that users may not be using the Xbox One as the living room entertainment hub that Microsoft had forecasted it to be.

There you have it. New update. New Xbox experience. Expect to this update to roll out to all users sometime on or around June 9th to take advantage of the new $399 Xbox One going on sale that day.

Are you excited for the changes? Are you a beta preview tester & have an experience that you’d like to share?  Please let us know in the comments below.



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180 degrees

Microsoft Puts Their Feet On Eddie Murphy’s Couch

What is 51 weeks?

That’s the question in our game of Jeopardy. The answer: This is how long it took for Microsoft to confirm that they have no marketing strategy for the Xbox One and concede defeat in the next-gen console war. May 21, 2013, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One to the world. The console announced that day had already morphed from the always online device it was rumored to be prior to its announcement.  Two weeks later, at E3 2013, the messaging out of Redmond changed some more; users will be able to play preowned games and the packed-in Kinect will not be mandatory to use the console but will be included in every box. While it was not going to be mandatory it was strongly hinted that Kinect is fundamental to the Xbox One experience thus justifying it’s $499 price point, 100 dollars more than Playstation 4.

Yesterday, all of that changed…again. Yesterday, Xbox head Phil Spencer, announced that the Kinect, deemed to be an integral part of the Xbox One experience, the same Kinect that was going to completely change your experience both as a gamer and as a purveyor of living room entertainment, will be an optional peripheral starting in June. The benefit to removing the piece of tech will be a $100 decrease in the price of the console to $399. This move makes it the same price as the more technically capable PS4. In concert with this announcement was the news that the Games with Gold program will also be making the move to Microsoft’s premier console starting with Halo:Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood. Like the Playstation Plus model that it’s duplicating, games will be available to you as long as your Xbox Live Gold subscription is valid (Currently users own their GwG downloads). Additionally, non-gaming/entertainment apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, do not require an XBL Gold subscription to use. When these announcements were made, many people across the internet rejoiced. The push for making gamers play poorly made motion controlled games is finally over.  I am not one of those people.

Yes, I realize that price is an important factor for many consumers and for many I think this pricing will make the Xbox One more attractive. One of the myriad problems I have with this move is, “What about the 5 million gamers worldwide that were excited for what a future full of voice controls could mean?”. You read that correctly, in the 5 months of recordable data, almost 5 million Xbox Ones have been sold. This is roughly 60% better than the Xbox 360, year-to-date and by far Microsoft’s most successful console launch. While  the subtraction of Kinect isn’t necessarily the death-nail for the peripheral, the fact that they haven’t announced pricing for the console bundle with it, or the price of the Kinect sold separately, doesn’t bode well.

We’re just six months into the life cycle of the console and the console is doing exceedingly well, in a vacuum. Why did Microsoft feel the need to concede failure so definitively…and so soon? What type of messaging are they sending out to the world? Can you really trust a company that succumbs to pressure from the community the way that Microsoft has so recently? What if the powers that be had been this quick to react when they released the original Xbox with only an ethernet port and not coupled with a 56K modem that was the dominant technology of the time? Multiplayer gaming would not be what it is today without Xbox Live and Xbox Live would not be what it was, and still is, without standardizing every Xbox console to work only with a broadband connection.  This provided the consumer with a quality expectation and guaranteed that developers could design an Xbox game with multiplayer in mind because every Xbox owner would have the ability to have the same high quality experience.

It’s Not All Bad….

I’m not completely negative here. There are still a few things that we don’t know. We don’t know how much the “bundled” Xbox One will cost, nor do we know the price of the Kinect sold separately. Say they release the bundled Xbox One for $449 with a digital copy of Titanfall or Forza Motorsports 5  while also moving apps to the front of the pay wall. Would that have been enough to make the Xbox One an appealing choice? Let’s also say that the Kinect sold separately is $79, does that make a bundled Xbox One at $450 with a game, more attractive than Kinect-less one at $400? Personally, I think the console priced this aggressively coupled with the Games with Gold program and the destruction of the pay wall would have been all that was needed to achieve the desire results.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery Sony must be absolutely blushing this week! Virtually everything that Microsoft is doing they “borrowed” from Sony. Xbox’s used game policy? Sony did it first. Xbox’s handling of app services? Sony’s. X1’s free and discounted games program? You guessed it; directly from Sony. Xbox’s new price point? Ibid. Recently it was noted that the controller light bar that has caused much consternation for Playstation 4 users was added to work with the recently announced Project Morpheus. Often were there cries to have the light toggled off or have the controller redesigned to omit them. Instead, Sony remained steadfast, and silent. They had a plan and they stuck to it. They had conviction and a vision. They’ve only recently decided to share it with us. Why couldn’t Microsoft do the same? Why couldn’t the Microsoft of today be the same company that had the foresight and fortitude to weather the storm during the launch of their initial console?

What does the exclusion of Kinect mean for developers? Will we see the game that expertly marries motion and conventional control schemes? That prospect seems less likely now. How do we differentiate these current consoles from each other? More importantly, how do we differentiate them from last gen? Yes, they’re both technically more powerful than its respective counterpart but that’s it. To me, the Kinect was the most next-gen(y) thing about this new generation.  Its applications, from a gaming and a casual prospective was the one place where you could easily see innovations taking place. Now that’s gone and all we’ve got is stuff that’s pretty but stagnant.

Microsoft’s marketing messaging has been more temperamental than the internet critics they’re trying to placate. Will there be a tangible message that consumers and early adopters can understand? I guess we’ll find out at E3.

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