How Many Buttons Can You Handle?

First of all I am sorry for not posting anything for a while. I haven’t had time, effort and, or, motivation to write here. So it’s been three weeks since I last posted here. But, now it’s time for me to write something for you guys. As you may have noticed I have added some advertisements to this blog. Maybe I get something out of this. I don’t know and we’ll figure out as I keep writing these stories here. I am trying to write something at least once in two weeks or so.

So, I decided to make a bit of a comparison between game controllers. In that featured image we have a NES controller. Now that’s about as old of a game pad as can be. Or do you remember something more older or simpler? Now, it has only buttons A and B, select, start and the directional control. There are older controllers but basically it doesn’t come much simpler than this. And look at the shape of that thing. It’s actually a piece of block with all those sharp edges.

To make this comparison as concrete as can be I chose the other game pad to be the standard Xbox Series S/X controller that I got shipped with my Xbox Series S. This controller has Y, A, X and B buttons, two thumb sticks, a button to control directions, four shoulder buttons and four more buttons. As you can notice I have acquired a cable for my controller so I don’t need to keep changing batteries all the time. This game pad is also very neat, good looking and fits in the players hand smoothly.

It is definitely simpler to play NES games. While playing Xbox Series S or X games you have lots of going on. Your ways to interact in the game is more diverse. As you might have or might have not heard there is actually a limit for things that a human being can handle at a time. That’s why all the menus in the user interface usually have limited amount of choices that the user has to make. This isn’t directly what is happening here but this gives us a view to what’s really going on as you are playing a game.

Remember those annoying selections you have to make when you make a phone call. You are given maybe three or four choices and you have to press a number corresponding to the selection. The user is unable to see the options that he or she has. So that’s an example of bad user interface design. I know this isn’t exactly what is going on but this is just an example of these psychological rules that our brains use to work.

So we have a more advanced controller here. As you can see the shape has been developed to be more friendly for the user. You have more options but also more responsibility. You have the ability to move accurately the cursor. So the thumb stick can actually replace the control of computers mouse. There has been almost thirty years and you can clearly see that things have in this matter progressed. I probably have to say that this controller is also if used so completely wireless.

One important thing I have to mention while we’re on this subject. It is important that the user can get out of the game and exit from it and maybe even pause the game for a while. Both of these controllers have this option. While using NES you can hit the right button to pause the game. When using Xbox Series S you have the option to pause and exit the game mode and kind of return to the operating system mode. You can also think about how this works with virtual reality. You definitely need a way to pause the game at any time you have to.

Do you necessarily need Windows to play PC games?

Linux as an operating system of personal computers has been competing to this day against Microsoft’s Windows. Linux has advantages. First of all it’s free and mostly open source. So anyone with a decent knowledge about programming and computers and operating systems has an opportunity to learn and even modify this system. But is Linux capable of running the latest games? To this question I am trying to answer in this blog post.

Windows has a large support as an operating system that delivers reliability. It can run latest PC games and it is an answer to many electronic music producers as Linux currently doesn’t fully support VST instruments or many sequencer applications like, for example, FL Studio. Linux has some free music production apps. like Ardour, but to get your software and hardware to run decently is to my own experience a bit difficult.

Windows is not free. Windows still supports many hardware drivers that are important when running newest PC games. Take graphics processing units for example. Most of the GPU´s are supported. You have to pay for Windows. Usually you get the new Windows with a computer that you purchase. Usually you also get the update to a newer version when it is released. Still sometimes you might have an old computer and you don’t want to spend about 150 euros for only getting the newest operating system. Then Linux definitely is a good choice.

There is a war going on between Linux and Windows. It has been this way for decades. While Linux is supported by heavy users, technology nerds and programmers Windows is still holding on to it’s position as the default personal computer operating system. Of course there are also Mac users. So this also messes up the picture a bit. I definitely like to use Linux for programming if I can make a free choice. This is because it is more secure and it doesn’t need necessarily a virus protection application. It also has more opportunities to get deeper into technology of computer. You get to work with command line and the apps are mainly free and open source. You also get more updates and get to tweak your system a bit more.

You can get Windows games working with Linux. Older games certainly can be run through DOSBox, if they are DOS games, and through Wine, if they are Windows games. There has been a discussion goin on how clearly are Steam games running on Linux. There seems to be a certain distinction between Windows and Linux games that I am not so clear about. The software seems to be in question. I cannot reply to this question fully and I admit that. But it is an interesting point.

So if you plan to play the newest games my answer to you is – get a computer that runs Windows. That is to make sure that you have the latest drivers and have yourself the full support from hardware manufacturers and game developers. Since we are moving more and more towards digital markets when purchasing games it is also important that you have Steam or GOG.com or some other place to buy yourself games for your PC. This is how the situation seems to be. Linux has it’s own supporters and you have to keep in mind that Linux has it’s native games that run only on Linux. So to conclude – Linux is developing and it might be possible that it makes a takeover in the future but currently you will have to use Windows.

Importance of Nintendo to Console Gaming

Nintendo was founded in 1889. It was originally named as Nintendo Karuta. As you can probably conclude – the end of 1800s wasn’t yet the time for this company to develop a gaming console to be played at thousands of living rooms worldwide. But it was the same company that brought NES or Nintendo Entertainment System to markets in 1983.

NES wasn’t the first video game console that was introduced to consumers. Atari brought their very popular console to the markets at the end of 1970s. It was very popular device but it got into real problems as the quality of games that were released did drop. These games included a game that was well-known and often named as the worst game ever made. It was a game based on Steven Spielbergs movie “E.T.” . This and many other games were buried to wasteland. And this is a true story. When Nintendo released NES the industry started to get over this crisis of games that didn’t have a good quality. Nintendo was making sure that only good and playable games would be released to the system.

If you have to name one game console you probably get your mind to NES. I remember clearly that it also was the first gaming device that I remember seeing ever. In the 1980s we had Commodore 64 but what Nintendo offered was something that revolutionized gaming.

Nintendo had to compete with Sega and later with such big names like Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has been in gaming industry for a long time. Somehow Nintendo kind of missed mobile gaming and approached handheld gaming by bringing new handheld consoles to the market. Lately there was introduced a new handheld device and this device is the one I acquired very recently – Nintendo Switch Lite. Thinking about this makes me puzzled. I bought this for about 220 euros. A new smart phones price is from about 150 to 400 euros. Would you buy a handheld device for gaming if you have your smart phone already? This is something to think about. Although I have been very satisfied with my purchase this far.

So Nintendo was the company that brought 8-bit gaming to our living rooms. It might not have been the first but in my opinion it had the strongest impact on this culture that was already starting to rise it’s head. This brings out the question – Why are games so popular? I think Nintendo has come up with the answer and they are, after all these years, still coming up with new innovative devices and games to gamers worldwide. So the impact to the whole industry is undisputed.

 

Sega vs Nintendo – What was it all about?

Nintendo released a maximum mega hit gaming console back in the 80’s. It was called NES or Nintendo Entertainment System. Atari had released gaming consoles targeted to use inside customers living rooms. It was about the time when arcades were quickly challenged by these kinds of devices you could easily set up inside your own home. The trend was there. Personal computers, PCs, were becoming more and more popular also.

While Sega Master System wasn’t a very bad console it couldn’t fully challenge NES. Sega knew they had to release a better, more powerful, gaming console to compete with Nintendo. Mega Drive, or Genesis as it was called in the USA, was released at the end of 1980’s and in Europe right at the beginning of 90’s.

I remember clearly the commercial of Mega Drive. It was a promise to bring arcades to homes. It delivered graphics and sound at 16-bit quality instead of earlier gaming consoles 8-bits. If Master System didn’t have so many hit games Sega promised also to bring good quality software in the form of great games. Sonic The Hedgehog and Golden Axe II were some of the most popular titles back then with not forgetting some greatness that was brought to paying customers by games like Splatterhouse, Streets Of Rage and for example Kid Chameleon.

Nintendo had Super Mario. Can someone say seriously that Super Mario wasn’t a great game? I think no one would say or think that way. So he was the mascot of the whole NES and also Nintendo. The battle for the gamers hearts (and money) was ultimately bloody and sweaty. You can have, if you wish, a great debate about which console had better games then the other.

As the battle continued Nintendo seemed to take in consideration how violent some games were. They started to deliver fighting games with no blood, hockey games without fights and cute characters that might seem to appeal to younger audience. Sega instead was reaching for customers that wanted this kind of rawness in their games. They didn’t remove the blood or the violence. You have to remember that things were a bit different back then since games in general weren’t so realistic. Sega was also paying more attention to the packaging of their games since Master Systems games were catching critic on that issue.

So who won the battle? You can definitely say that both consoles and companies were doing great. Sega was successful and so was Nintendo. Later, Sega made some bad decisions and started to be in trouble. The last console that was released was Dreamcast. Nintendo instead has been bringing gaming consoles up to this day as Switch is their latest console. Dreamcast was released in the end of 90’s and Switch was released 2017.

 

What in the world was (or is) DOS?

DOS stands for “Disk Operating System”. It has to be mentioned also that it was developed by Microsoft. It was the most popular and most used operating system before Windows, and even Linux, started to dominate. Windows brought graphics to user interfaces of operating systems. MS-DOS required users to type commands to for example list files in a folder, move from one folder to another and to start a program or launch a game.

It has to be mentioned that while DOS was the most popular main stream operating system it wasn’t the only one. In academic world there existed an operating system called UNIX. I have stumbled on UNIX as I have studied computer science. In UNIX you have to write commands also.

This article deals more with the use of DOS and games that you could play on it. I am not going to explain more about technological views of DOS. I remember playing many games. Some games were clearly made for children to learn new skills. My dad even programmed a tool for me to learn multiplication table.

I remember times when I tried to program a simple game with QBasic. This is crazy. I remember the kinds of floppy disks that were used back in the day. I can hardly translate the names in Finnish that these were called. If you want to know the bigger and flat one that had less space on it was called “lerppu” and the newer, smaller and one that had more capacity was called “korppu”. So remember this words if you ever have a chat with a Finnish nerd.

I have written earlier another post about this topic. You can read it here.

Saying goodbye to PS4

So there’s PS5 to be released at the end of the year. You may have been thinking that PS4 is totally over. Should you just remove it from your setup? You may change your mind because there’s going to be released some very big titles. One of them has already been mentioned in this blog. It is the remake collection of two games – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2. The other one is Dirt 5. It’s going to be released on October of 2020. We have already seen some big game releases like The Last Of Us 2 and Final Fantasy VII Remake.

How long exactly is PS4 going to be around? That is a good question. If you think about PS3, the predecessor of PS4, you can find out that the newest games haven’t been released to it. But still some hardcore players are playing it. At the beginning of this year I found out that there was PS3 emulator for PC released. It made possible to play a copy of your favorite PS3 game on PC. Though one game could take a lot of space. Some games require 50 GBs of space. Considering this and the issue of high system requirements it would be awkward to actually use this emulator as we have seen PS3 prices dropping from the price tag of brand new gaming console.

PS3 is still around and that’s not going to change for a long time. PS4 is going to lose its title as the most powerful PlayStation gaming console very soon. You can also consider some of the last games that were made for example for PS1 in early 2000s. Game companies could actually make some never before seen games because they had so much experience about developing games for exactly that system. We saw then games like Final Fantasy IX and Vagrant Story. And remember how good Silent Hill was compared to for example the first Resident Evil. There are some mistakes that can be corrected and there definitely is advantage in being some of the last games on any gaming console.

What will be the first game you buy for your new gaming system? PS5 already has some games to choose from that will be released at he release or shortly after. I am waiting to see Gran Turismo 7 for example. There is always going to be some time until new good games are starting to be released on a new gaming system. In the case of PS4 the consumers had to wait for a long time waiting for good quality games. And this also started the trend of HDs and remakes. This makes sense as you think for example how many games were released on PS1 and PS2. Why would you have to reinvent the wheel every time? There is going to be some advancements in technology. This will eventually bring some new kinds of games to us players.

I will have to say this. I am not going to buy PS5. Even if there actually is going to be a new Diablo game released on it. I am aiming for a gaming PC as my next platform for latest games. I am also going to wait two or three years to buy it. This decision is not written in stone. My mind can change. I was a bit disappointed to PS4. This is only my decision and you should definitely make yours after you have given this idea some thought. It has been some years since PS4 was released.

Service Games – The Rise and Fall Of SEGA (Book review)

Sam Pettus wrote a book about “the rise and fall” of Sega. This book was published in 2013. Sega has been releasing some games but the latest console was DreamCast. And it was released in 1998. So the book is some years old but if you think of this subject, how Sega conquered and commanded the markets first with Mega Drive and later with other consoles, you find out that this content is not outdated. It might be currently relevant as being part of console gaming history. And in my opinion – this is something that every gamer should know about. So what was and is Sega and what kind of an impact it made on gaming and how it can be seen even today?

This book begins the journey to Segas history from the beginning to the fall. The first console released was SG-1000. I have never seen this console. The breakthrough for Sega came as Master System, a well-known gaming system, was released. This was the beginning of console war between mainly Sega and Nintendo. This happened in 80s as there first appeared to be two greatly popular gaming consoles on the same market. Atari 2600 was already considered older console and it was replaced with these newer consoles. Atari had its consoles but they couldn’t compete with Sega and Nintendo.

Sega was active and brought many machines to use in arcades. As Mega Drive was released at the end of 80s Sega promised to bring, finally, arcade quality gaming to mainstream consumers homes. The war raged on and the battle continued. Nintendo brought SNES to markets a few years later. These systems all failed to compete with PlayStation that conquered home gaming console markets from the middle of nineties to the end of the decade. But that’s enough of 3D gaming and PlayStation. Let’s get back to what happened inside gaming world in late 80s and 90s.

So Sega had Mega Drive, that was called also Sega Genesis in some parts of the world, and Nintendo had to compete with its NES that was not as powerful as Mega Drive. NES challenged Sega by making some quality games as Super Mario was the main character to lead Nintendos effort to beat Sega. Sega later came up with Sonic that was the main character and represented Sega in this battle. Nintendo tried to make games that were more propriate for children. Their main focus was to bring high quality games and make them be as non-violent as can be. And in some way they succeeded in this. Sega released games also that had violence in them.

Sega had its success with Mega Drive. They had a bad strategy with pricey products that consumers weren’t so interested in. So there was SNES released by Nintendo. Sega released 32X and Sega CD that both failed to gain popularity. After that Sega came up with Saturn that had a tough job to compete with PlayStation. And after that Sega gave its very strong effort to bring to the markets potentially the best console ever made. And some definite fans of Sega are saying that they accomplished just that.

DreamCast did sell but it didn’t sell enough as Nintendo had released N64 and PlayStation 2 was on it’s way. DreamCast ended up selling “only” 9 million consoles worldwide. For a comparison I can tell that PS2 sold more than 100 million consoles. So PS2 sold more than ten times more. So it clearly was a failure for Sega. They ended manufacturing the console as it had only been in the market for just a few years. At the same time PS2 sold steadily and continued in producing. There are many reasons why Sega failed. And many of them were not that they made mistakes but in fact the case was that they had to compete with some very good console manufacturers like Sony and also Microsoft that released also their console at the beginning of the century.

This book is very good. I had fun reading it. It tells you the whole story of Sega as a company and opens up some ideas of how they succeeded and finally failed badly and left the gaming console industry. If you are a Sega fan this is an important piece of gaming history. I am myself a big Mega Drive fan beginning from games and music that was made with and for it. This is not, I repeat, a paid or other type of commercial but more like a recommendation for gaming and Sega fans around the world reading this blog. We will be back, soon, with the next article.

My history in gaming – How it all started

My father ifluenced me as his profession was engineer. I somehow remember as he brought an old personal computer to our home. My mom was a bit concerned but finally agreed that it would be good for me to learn some skills with this piece of technology. So I started with PC.

First games I remember playing were Bubble Bobble, Sierras adventure games and Prince of Persia. When I first started at school being seven years old NES wasn’t the most powerful gaming console anymore. So everybody had Segas Mega Drive and I wanted one also. I think it was 1993 when I finally had saved money to buy this thing. I played Mega Drive for several years. My favourite games were Sonic, Streets Of Rage and NHL 94. It was 1997 when I got myself Sony’s PlayStation.

During PlayStations era gaming was becoming more popular and young adults were getting in to gaming more than ever. Before this gaming was thought to be a bit childish and stereotype of a player was a young child. This changed and when PS2 came out gaming started to be a very common hobby for consumers at every age.

At about 2000 I played Diablo 2 with PC. I enjoyed 3D gaming. I was studying in high school then and a profession inside gaming became a dream job for me. After high school I was living with almost no touch to gaming for some reason or another. 2006 I got original Xbox as a gift from my mom. I started playing it. My girl friend, who is now my wife, also had PS3 back then so I got back to gaming. I missed PS2 and I’m little bit sad that it went like this with my dear hobby.

I played many years with PS3. I then got PS4 maybe in 2014. I bought many classic retro consoles and took my Mega Drive back from my parents house and after moving to another appartment in 2018 I got myself television lever from IKEA and placed 7 differnet consoles to our living room. That was awesome. This is the tip of my gaming hobby. I also worked for half a year in store that was dedicated to gaming.

I have understood that there are lots of games around there. It’s important that you experiment and find the ones you like because there isn’t enough time, in humans living span, to play all of them thoroughly. I find best games to be sometimes retro and sometimes newest ones. But now all games don’t get me excited anymore. I have bought games from game stores and from flee market. I have also a friend who sells used stuff like games so I sometimes buy them from him. I have a nice collection. Some PC games as Big Box. I currently have these consoles, I play all of them, PlayStation Classic, PS3, Super Retro Trio+ HD, PSOne, PS4 and Xbox 360 and of course my PC.

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