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PixelJunk’s awesome 4A.M. contest is underway

I rolled on to my Facebook feed yesterday and to my surprise saw that PixelJunk was promoting a really cool contest for their game 4 A.M. If you haven’t heard of it, I posted a overview of the game some time back that had a great interview with Rowan Parker the lead designer of the game. Honestly I think this game’s existence is still the only reason to own a PS Move controller and is one of the best motion/music mash-ups games you can have with that peripheral. It is truly a one of a kind experience that you shouldn’t miss.

They are giving away a PixelJunk customized Sony Pulse Elite Headset and a Move controller signed by the whole 4 A. M. team!

Check their Facebook page for details: 

After seeing this sweet swag I have to get my skills back on point. If you would like to see me perform check out and follow me on PSN under the name KAHJAH1

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!

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The Good, Bad & Ugly of Sony’s PS4 Conference

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The Sony PS4 hypemobile officially revved its engine yesterday and started the next generation of console gaming. A two-week period of hype that began with a forty-five second trailer ended with a date. It looks like after a two-hour, TED-talk-esque performance they should have used the date for their E3 conference. I walked away more underwhelmed than anything, and Sony left me with more questions than answers.

I know it’s too early to see the console, I know it’s too early for a price. Sony needed tangible things to lay its hat on tonight and they were so abstract that it made me wonder if they can actually pull off what they are hoping to do.

Let’s break down the important takeaways from last night’s conference.

 THE GOOD

THE CONTROLLER – All the rumors and leaked dev kit pictures were true. A sleeker design, touch pad, new triggers and analog sticks. The infamous “share” button and light bar were there too. What I found interesting was how the new dualshock was constructed. It looks like the bottom part of the controller looks to be of a different material than the top. Maybe it’s just cosmetic or it could be functional. (Maybe less slippery?)

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THE CAMERA – The new Playstation Camera looks more like a Kinect than its predecessor but smaller in form factor and possibly a little more advanced. This looks to be what the light bar on the controllers will interact with.

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SOCIAL INTERACTIVITY – The “Share” button honestly is a damn cool idea. If Sony did learn something from its competition last generation it was to take some of the cool stuff the other guys have and put it into your tech. The On-Live platform’s community spectator feature is making the jump to the PS4. As a sports gamer, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS. This will be the ultimate trash talk button — no longer will people be able to run away from those $5 “oh so I didn’t beat you the other day in NBA2k right?” bets. Let me put this video up on my Facebook page for everyone to see.

The ability for people to also help you in games is a welcome addition; I know damn well I need a Dark Souls chaperone.

GAIKAI – This can’t be understated, if Sony can get this right it will be a game changer. From downloadable games being playable while still being downloaded, realistic backwards compatibility across multiple consoles, and giving the PS VITA a brand new life via real remote play. Gaikai will be the most talked about part of this new console if they can pull it off. With the US’s current internet infrastructure I honestly worry about this being as smooth as they think it should be. Early adopters will take the brunt of this hit for sure.

THE BAD

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT– When Gueriilla Games got on stage, I hoped they wouldn’t show another Killzone game, but they did and it looked pretty and I didn’t care. I already know I will get pretty with a new console, show me something different. Same thing with Infamous and Diablo, these are established IP’s but that’s not what I came here for. Destiny would have wowed me if it wasn’t announced a couple days earlier.

HEY YOU FORGOT SOMETHING – If you aren’t going to show the console, talk about things you are going to put in the box, like the mic you said you are going to include. Instead of hearing this in the conference we learn this in a Press Release on the Playstation Blog. I don’t remember hearing anything about it during the conference and that is a mistake.  I add this to the list because I honestly believe it’s a big deal. We know just how many people didn’t use their mics on the PS3 and how that doesn’t foster community. Telling people that a mic comes in the box just makes the deal sweeter and lets consumers know that this time you want people to play together and interact.

 THE UGLY

TOO LONG, TOO AKWARD – Last gen, one of the biggest knocks against Sony was that they didn’t know how to engage with the public, through PR or in the way that you interacted with their systems. This two hour dog and pony show totally could have been cut down to forty-five minutes or an hour. Front man after front man trying to conceptualize things that most gamers didn’t really care about did not help their cause.  The lasting image of the four Bungie guys on stage at the end of the conference looking like an awkward boy band with synchronized robot arms will never leave me. Sony needed more Jack Trenton and less Jack from Lost. They need a “face” for the company — they still need their J. Allard.

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NOT ENOUGH NEW GAMES – You have a dedicated event with the whole world watching and you kinda stiff people on the new stuff. Two new games, with only one being partially demoed. This is not the way to make people want your system especially if you are going to wait to pull anything else out until E3. This gives your competition time to figure out a plan of attack and focus on things you left out of your own showcase. I bet Microsoft will show all of the goods when and if they pull anything out before E3 and they will take the spotlight and momentum Sony should have had.

I think for all the hype and set up for this “game changing” announcement we really didn’t get lots of meat on the bone. Sony still has a way to go before they convince me and many other gamers that the PS4 is a necessity and a must have.

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IndieCade East Spotlight – Rainbow Bacon Interview

So I walk across the conference floor and see a tall, young man with a crowd around him. I also see a blinking ball of light that resembles a Playstation Move controller. Anytime I see a Move controller it automatically gets me excited and upset at the lack of cool games or ways to interact with one. I move a little closer to the crowd right in time to hear Shawn Pierre say, “Does anyone want to play my game, Rainbow Bacon?”

First of all, I love bacon. And to see how excited the folks in the crowd were upped my interest level tenfold.

Six people emerge from the crowd and split into two teams of three. Pierre plays the role of both ringmaster and participant while he puts the Move controller in the middle of the teams and belts out instructions on how to play the game. “Now remember your color, and remember: two-hand touch is what counts.”

The game starts and the Move controller shines orange. A player from each team runs into the middle and circles the opponent before one of them tries to “steal the bacon” and bring it back to their side without being tagged. Watching grown men and women play this classic schoolyard game brought back so many of my own childhood memories. I had to go and find out what and where the inspiration for this new twist on this old school game came from.

Shawn Pierre, creator of Rainbow Bacon, tells us a little more about it:

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It’s 4AM, Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

We want to give a  huge thanks to Rowan Parker, Lead Designer of 4AM. He was super awesome and took some time out to give us an interview about the game. Check it out below and then take a peek at our review.

Our Review

Over the years I’ve collected numerous games, spent hours traversing levels and killing bosses. Many of those games have gone by the wayside and into either the trade pile or the digital scrap heap. The few games I have kept are there because they are either artistically compelling, socially interactive or sensory feasts. 4AM from Pixeljunk hits all these notes beautifully. Powered by DJ Baiyon’s eclectic mix of trance and house music, the game puts you in the seat of virtual DJ. Using the Playstation Move as your only tool, you are able to mix and remix the tracks in the game with both precision and style.

4AM is both music creation tool and audio visualizer. You can play tracks from your PS3’s hard drive and delight in the gorgeous art the team put together, or you can go into the creator and get down to the nitty gritty. The aforementioned gritty takes place on what Lead Designer Rowan Parker calls the “Virtual Audio Canvas”. This canvas is represented on screen by different “tapestries” that move in sync with both the music and your motions. Each of the move’s four buttons correspond with each instrument of the different tracks. The square button might be a baseline while the circle might be a synth. Adding in solos and loops by holding a button or dragging in a instrument from the corners of your virtual space adds to the complexity or simplicity of the song you are performing.

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Everytime you launch into the create space your routine is being broadcast live to anyone who might be using the live viewer at that time. This is one of the reasons why I like this game so much: the ability to have what you are doing be heard by others in real-time adds a level of both excitement and a small bit of anxiety to the mix. People can follow you and also give you feedback in the form of “Kudos”. If viewers are digging what you are doing a set of equalizer type bars will rise from the bottom of the screen. The instant feedback gave me an idea if a specific drum loop or one-hit loop was connecting with the crowd. I think I would have made Girl Talk or Tiesto proud.

You can download the free viewer if you are curious or just want to be a voyeur, but if you want to gain international fame a price of $10 USD will get you a lot for your money: 10 tracks that you can manipulate, Twitter and Facebook integration so you can promote your performances, and a really sweet interactive audio visualizer that is way better than the vanilla one pre-installed with the PS3. I believe this should be a pack-in game with every PS Move. It showcases the precision you can get with the device, has lots of physical and visual feedback and great music. Let’s hope that Pixeljunk continues to support games like this via DLC and other extensions of the social media hooks that work so well within the game.

4AM is a game that hits all the right beats and is something that any music lover should own. Bravo, Pixeljunk, bravo.

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4 AM Is When Everything Gets Interesting.

Have you ever wanted to orchestrate music real time with thousands or even millions of people as your audience? Have you ever dreamed of being one of those DJ’s in a rave party with music at your fingertips? If so, I think I might have found the game for you. The wonderful folks at Pixeljunk have come up with a really cool game called 4 A.M.

The game is equal parts music manipulator and music visualizer. You control everything with the Playstation Move controller. Bouncing from four tracks, looping in samples, waggling in drums and other sounds was easy and intuitive. The trance-like music I played with in the demo fit along with the “Rez-like” visuals on screen. Tutorials were easy to understand and taught on the fly while composing my performances and anytime you start a performance it’s broadcast to anyone who is playing the game at the time. You get feedback on how much people like what you are doing via a “Kudos” system that shows rising bars on the bottom of your screen. It’s actually pretty awesome trying something during a track and seeing whoever is watching react to it in real-time.

For now here is a video that shows you better than I can tell you. Look out for a review coming shortly.

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