Project xCloud E3 Demo – First Impressions and New Details

We got a chance to go hands-on with Xbox’s upcoming game streaming service, Project xCloud, at the Xbox booth at E3. We were also able to ask a few questions to one of the developers on the project.

Here are our impressions:

The games we demoed were Gears of War and Resident Evil 7 on an Android smartphone tethered to an Xbox One controller.

While playing Resident Evil 7, the game was very responsive. I always do the “menu-test” while judging latency, and the menu selection seemed instant as I moved the d-pad between selections. Gears of War controlled nicely too, though I could judge a small amount of latency when moving the camera around. It remained very playable, though, and was impressive being on WiFi.

As for quality, the visual quality looked great. The video was very clear and had no visible artifacts. I was told it was running at 720p.

When asked if 4K will come down the road for bigger screens besides mobile devices, he said, “Eventually we will get there. 720p doesn’t look good blown up on bigger screens, so when we launch on bigger screens we will get there.”

When I asked if the hardware being used is comparable to an Xbox One S or X console, I was told that it isn’t comparable to either. The service is using a custom hardware in Azure data centers that isn’t directly comparable. It sounds like it can be upgraded as time goes on to fulfill higher resolutions and more powerful hardware.

As for the gameplay experience, it was smooth enough to be playable. However, there was some noticable stuttering throughout my demo. But I can’t say it will be like this in the consumer version, because it could be the interference with many people in the Xbox booth interfering with the signal. Even so, it was a remarkably playable and nearly lag-free experience, and I came away impressed.

The demo ran on 5Ghz WiFi at their E3 booth. When asked if the 5Ghz made a difference compared to the 2.4Ghz band, I was told it will run well on 2.4G WiFi too. According to the developer, in their solution, the difference between 2.4G WiFi and 5G WiFi is the least important factor in the latency equation for xCloud.

The app we used was a custom app built just for the E3 demo, but when asked, the developer said they don’t yet know what format they will end up packaging xCloud in when it launches and that’s something they still need to figure out. It could be in the Xbox app or have its own standalone app.

Some other details I was told:

The service will launch on mobile first in October, and needs around 10-15mb download speed to run well.

While playing, the phone sees it as just a streaming video, so as long as it the phone can stream video, it will work well.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it appears it is still early days for xCloud, as some of the details have yet to be fleshed out, and it will launch as a mobile experience first. At launch, it has a very different target from other streaming services like Google Stadia.

But what I played at E3 was very promising, and with the fact that the service will be leveraged by potentially thousands of games, and be upgraded down the line to be playable on more devices with higher resolutions, it could end up being the top dog of game streaming in the future. It’s too early to tell at the moment, as all of the tech is still being developed, but I can say with confidence that game streaming services like xCloud will certainly become a viable way to play games in the future.

For more exclusive gaming news, stay tuned to the site and follow Gamer Splash on Twitter:

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order E3 Game Preview – New Details

EA and Respawn held an extended gameplay demo for Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Wednesday at the Xbox E3 stage. A producer on the game was there to share a 45 min gameplay demo and discussion on the game, where we learned new details.

The demo starts about 10 mins before the 15-min demo shown off on the EA Play livestream, and explains more about how the game’s main protagonist, Cal, finds himself in the land of Kasshyk. He starts off in a forest-like area and we get to see more interactions with the different characters, an epic sequence where Cal takes control of (and then crashes) an AT-AT, and see a brief glimpse of force freeze powers and how skill trees will work in the game. For a detailed write-up on the demo, visit Eurogamer’s story.

In addition to the demo, a short Q&A session was held by the producer after the gameplay session.

Some other details shared with us by the producer follow:

First off, the E3 demo starts approximately 3 hours into the game.

He elaborates that this demo shows off a side mission, not core to the main story of the game, because the team didn’t want to spoil the story so far before release. Because the game is still in alpha development stage, he stated that there is still a lot of work left to do before the game releases.

On the story, he explains that the team crafted the story hand in hand with LucasFilm, and the story will be part of the main canon.

He also said there will be no “BioWare-style” story progression, meaning your actions won’t change the story too much. Therefore, there will not be any “dark side vs light side” choices to affect the story, and no cliffhanger ending.

On the main character, Cal, his story goes like this:

He has just survived the purge of order 66, and goes through what it means to trust again throughout the game.

He is a padawan in training with lots of learning to do, and throughout the game, he learns on the job. The producer explains that Cal takes on a hero’s journey to become a Jedi knight, restore Jedi order

As for the actor who plays Cal, the team wanted someone who was like a young Clint Eastwood. Cameron (the actor) ended up in the “other” folder in their auditions folder, but the lead writer went through and picked him back up from the pile.

As for the gameplay difficulty seen in the demo, the lead producer, Blair, played on 200th plus his playthrough, and the settings were tuned to show off gameplay. However, besides the tweaks, the host told us that the game was set to about normal difficulty.

The control scheme is designed so that the player decides how they want to play. The game is designed so that as the player levels up, you as a player level up at same time by getting better with the game.

On the subject of how long the game will be, the producer told us that the game takes on a metroidvania style design, where if you want to 100% the game, you will need to retraverse previously visited areas.

You will also have many upgrades throughout the game. For example, You can upgrade your Droid, BD1, with a new capacitor to short circuit construction panlea, and throughout the game, you will unlock new abilities to interact with the world.

As another example. Abilities like force push can knock over obstacles to unlock previously unreachable areas.

The game will have at least 7 planets.

Lastly, as for what the demo is running on, we were told the gameplay demo is being played on a development PC with an Xbox controller plugged in.

The team is still exploring PC features like raytracing and optimizing, but he said it should support 4K on Xbox One X.

That’s all the details we have for now.

Stay tuned to Gamer Splash for further coverage on Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order and more exclusive gaming news.

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https://twitter.com/gamersplashtv

Nintendo, You’re Doing Cloud Saves Wrong

Ever since the Nintendo Switch came out in March 2017, despite having many modern and lauded features, many have been quick to point out some of its flaws. From launch until today, there has been no cloud save feature for games on the system.

Whereas Xbox and PlayStation have had cloud saves since last generation, 2017’s Nintendo Switch had no such feature. When Nintendo finally announced that the paid Nintendo Switch Online subscription service would offer cloud saves, many gamers rejoiced. No more, many thought, would a gamer who lost his Nintendo Switch have to restart his 300-hour Breath of the Wild game save, from scratch. He would no longer have to grind his way back up to the top in Splatoon 2.

But today’s news that certain games would not support cloud saves came as a surprise. Whereas a rival system like the Xbox One saves every single game to the cloud universally, it appears Nintendo is allowing each developer to “opt-in” to whether they want to use cloud saves or not.

Here is the current list of games that do not support cloud saves:

Splatoon 2

Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu

FIFA 19

NBA 2K19

Dark Souls Remastered

Dead Cells

It’s worth noting that all of the multiplatform games on this list support cloud saves on Xbox and PlayStation. And this list is likely to grow.

Worse yet, Nintendo’s official reasoning behind the change is maddening and confusing, to say the least.

Per Game Informer, here is Nintendo’s response to the issue:

The vast majority of Nintendo Switch games will support Save Data Cloud backup. However, in certain games this feature would make it possible to, for example, regain items that had been traded to other players, or revert to a higher online multiplayer ranking that had been lost. To ensure fair play, Save Data Cloud backup may not be enabled for such games. To ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings, the feature will not be enabled in Splatoon 2.

Breaking this down, this response indicates a very important distinction in the way Nintendo is conceptualizing its cloud saving feature. Besides not being available at a system level for each game, Nintendo’s response makes it clear that players’ cloud saves will not be automatically synced to the cloud, like Xbox One’s system enforces. Per Nintendo’s words, this looks more and more like Nintendo will be instead implementing cloud saves with the same thought process as how it implements them on the NES Classic Edition; That is, Nintendo will give gamers different cloud saving “slots,” the same way as it does with offline single player games such as Breath of the Wild. Players can then choose to load up one of, potentially many, “cloud saves” from a cloud save list, the same way players can load up any normal offline save from their offline save list.

There are many reasons having multiple save files are beneficial for offline play in single-player games. Say you got stuck in a tough boss battle with low health and few items, making it near-impossible to get through it. What do you do? Bingo: fire up a previous save and stock up on items before you face that bad boy again. Or say you were near the end of a game and your character suddenly died, the game then forcing you to restart from far back. A save file closer to where you were before is helpful in this situation, as well.

However, there is a good reason online games, such as Splatoon, Halo, and Gran Turismo, don’t give you save slots (at least in the online portions). The reason is because all of the online data is stored in the cloud.

Now, from a certain perspective, Nintendo’s logic in their response is sound. If it is indeed possible to revert saves to alter online play, then it is a good call for Nintendo to not allow cloud saves on Switch.

The issue is that this situation is only possible in the first place, because Nintendo implemented an inferior cloud save model, where it gives players the option to revert players’ local saves to previous cloud saves created at an earlier time. In this case, as unfortunate as it is, Nintendo is making the right decision to thwart cheaters.

But why isn’t this an issue on Xbox One and PlayStation, and how are these platforms able to have cloud saves on each and every game without the same concerns Nintendo has? This is because these systems do not allow for reverting a current offline or online game save to a previous, specifically Online version. The only way Nintendo’s concern makes sense is if it is allowing players to revert their game saves to previous online game saves. So, it’s rather obvious this is the kind of system Nintendo intends to implement here.

This approach to cloud saves makes sense for single-player games such as Super Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild. However, it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach, because games that dare to have online components like Splatoon 2 and FIFA 19 become a victim to that decision, Nintendo putting online gaming fairness en masse over individual save data security.

It is also puzzling to me why, if Nintendo does want to stick with its cloud save data reversion feature, Nintendo can’t achieve the technical issue of allowing single-player save data in a game like Splatoon 2 to be reverted without affecting a player’s online rankings. This suggests that a player’s online data is tied to the offline game save data, when it should have been saved in the cloud all along. Now that we know this is the case, it’s another reason Nintendo has done things wrong here and is having to make this decision.

This situation also makes me wonder why Nintendo can’t just make sure that once a console is connected to the internet, it adopts a system like Xbox One’s, where instead of giving the player the option to revert to a previous online save, the system automatically synchronizes the player’s latest game save, whether offline or online, and overwrites the older one.

Nintendo could simply choose to implement this auto-synchronization function for online games and preserve the cloud save function, and if it wants, it can use revertable cloud saves for games such as Breath of the Wild. There’s no reason why the Switch cannot use two different cloud save systems for two very different kind of games, when that framework can allow the benefit of cloud saves to games such as Splatoon 2. Implementing this approach would work, and gamers would benefit.

Not implementing this approach signals to me that Nintendo’s current game save system is out of date, and thus incompatible with this set-up, or Nintendo wants to keep everything simple for gamers and would rather have the same exact cloud save functions across every game. However, the victims of this decision, then, are online multiplayer games.

Nintendo has dug themselves into a pretty large hole here. But they can solve this.

If they simply adopt a universal auto-synchronization system like Xbox One’s, or even do this for only games with online multiplayer, then precious save data for games like Splatoon 2 would be able to be safely backed up to the cloud, and gamers could finally rejoice at the feeling that their save data will be safe, no matter what happens to their Switch.

As it stands now, though, it looks like cloud saves will be a neat feature to have for offline Nintendo Switch games, but a gamer who happens to lose or damage his Nintendo Switch will still have to start from scratch for a game like Splatoon 2.

Nintendo still has time to fix this. If not when the service launches, then any time after. But as of now, fans of online games on Nintendo’s system will still have to be subject to uncertainty regarding their save data. And in 2018, that is not acceptable.

Mega Man 30th Anniversary Panel at Comic Con 2018 – Exclusive

The producers of the Mega Man series hosted a panel on all things Mega Man at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend. Get an exclusive look at concept art, new gameplay, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2, as well as Mega Man 11.

 

For more on Mega Man, Comic-Con, and everything gaming, be sure to follow Gamer Splash.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Resident Evil 2 Panel Recording – Comic Con 2018 Exclusive

Gamer Splash was on hand to record a large portion of the Resident Evil 2 panel at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Check out a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Resident Evil 2 remake, including never-before-seen concept art.

Check out the full clip below:

Follow Gamer Splash for more exclusives from Comic-Con and future gaming events.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Spyro Reignited Trilogy – Exclusive New Details, Footage, and Concept Art

This past weekend at Comic-Con 2018, the developers of the original Spyro game, Insomniac Games, Toys For Bob, the developers of the Reignited Trilogy, Tom Kenny, the voice of Spyro, and Stewart Copeland, Spyro’s original composer, held a panel to discuss the development of the original Spyro and how it was redesigned for modern audiences.

Several interesting details, photos, and video clips were shared showing a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the original games and the changes made for the Reignited Trilogy.

Check out the details below:

Here is a look behind the scenes at how the levels and art were designed for the original game and re-designed for the Reignited Trilogy:

Check out some of the concept art behind the original game and Spyro’s design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short clip of Spyro’s animation:

Tom Kenny re-enacting some lines from the game:

A cutscene from the original Spyro game showing Tom Kenny’s performance as Spyro:

An exclusive look at a new cutscene from the game:

Last is a full discussion of the original music behind Spyro and how it was brought to life for the Reignited Trilogy, with original composer Stewart Copeland and music remixer Stephan Vankov:

Some photos of Stewart and Stephan meeting in Stewart’s studio:

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Members of the audience were also treated to a special poster:

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For a recap of more highlights and details from the panel, including changes in gameplay and menu design, check out VTNVIVI’s recap video:

Follow Gamer Splash for more exclusives from Comic-Con and future gaming events.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

thatgamecompany Panel at WonderCon 2018

I was excited to be able to attend a panel featuring one of the great developers that continues to inspires me and countless others with their beautiful games. This company brought games like Journey to life, which touched many people across the world. I knew this panel would be special, so I decided to record it.

You know them from Flow, Flower, and Journey. You saw their upcoming game, Sky, at Apple’s iPhone press conference 2017.

Now go behind the curtain and learn the inside stories on how thatgamecompany came to be and crafted some of your favorite indie games of the generation!

I also got to chat with the developers after, and learned that Sky may come to more platforms after iOS. They were also willing to give me career advice and share some of their own story, which was very helpful for me.

Watch their presentation below!

All in all, it was a great experience, and just a slice of my WonderCon experience. Stay tuned to the blog for more content coming soon!

EMX Brings Music and Gaming Together Under One Roof

Hey everyone!

This past Saturday, I got the opportunity to go to a very cool event called Food Fight. The event was organized by a group called eSports Music X (EMX), Dim Mak, and Foodbeast.  The event was hosted at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California. The event ran from 6pm all the way until 12am and it was free!

This event is interesting, because it is a fusion event, combining not just one, but three things people love: food and drink, music, and gaming.

I figure, if both mediums offer entertainment, especially with music being in games, and even gaming music being popular, there must be a big market crossover for people to come to an event like this. And I was right.

First off, the eSports Arena is a pretty chill venue. The venue regularly offers local competitions for gaming, and even held a large 250-person Super Smash Bros. tournament, drawing public and drawing some of the biggest competitive names to the scene.

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There was a pretty cool food truck outside offering tricked out burgers and tacos, but only one.

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Stepping into the event, we were greeted by an employee. You walk in, and the first thing you notice is a dark and clubby vibe. Right as you walk in, you feel the energy, with electronic music pounding, and people all around.

The first thing in front of you when you walk in is a bar. For some, catching a drink is the first thing they’d want to do to start enjoying the rest of what is on offer.

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The event was also being livestreamed on Twitch, so you could see fancy recording equipment stationed everywhere. I was told that the venue also had a fancy production studio on-site, where the livestream broadcast production and editing was being handled by the team involved.

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As you delve in further, you find videogame stations, designed for playing with two people at each station. There is an arcade machine setup on an Xbox One up front, where players can use real arcade sticks and buttons to play the hot new fighting game, Dragonball FighterZ. On the right, there was another gaming station for people to play Xbox games with normal controllers. This also suited two people and came pre-loaded with many games, such as Dragonball FighterZ and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. There was a also a Wii U station for people to play two-player matches in Smash Bros.

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Though the event was not full, it was decently populated. It was interesting seeing the younger demographic come in with their friends, watching them enjoy the bar and music, but then also going to have fun with some rounds of DragonBall with their friends.

Going around a curve, you come to the main stage of the venue. There is a DJ playing electronic music, and groups of people crowding in front to party and enjoy the music. The DJ’s were provided by Dim Mak, which is Steve Aoki’s record label. Pretty good music back there.

There was also an upstairs area, which you could view the party from above from. This area also hosted several small standing tables where people could play cards or board games at.

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There was also a lounge area with a large couch and a large screen TV, and Wii U, pre-loaded with a copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, for a group to play.

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Having arrived at around 9pm and attempting to go back up the stairs for more photos, I found the security had closed off the second floor. Must have not gotten too much traffic up there.

Overall, the event was fun, and it goes to show how just like with fusion food, fusion parties with gaming and music can be just as exciting. And just like music can be at events, gaming can be social as well. I believe combining two of entertainment’s most accessible and energetic mediums at an event like this is something truly unique. For me, as both an avid gamer and musician, it brings two of my biggest entertainment and creative passions into one event.

Some things that I would choose to improve about the event, are as follows:

First off, I believe the marketing for the event could be better. Even though I keep up with the latest news in gaming and music, I would not have known about this event if not for my friend telling me. More advertising and local marketing can definitely be done for future events.

Also, another thing to improve is to offer more gaming stations, more food options, and more activities to do around the area. I’d also recommend having a photo booth at the event for partygoers and their friends to come. Personally, I came around 9pm and was ready to leave at 11. I suppose staying for the DJ’s music is fine if you’re at a club, but for one-off events like this, most people aren’t enticed enough to stay the full six hours. After a while, people will get tired of playing games with pounding electronic music in the background, or they’ll likely be tired of listening to the DJ for six hours. However, for a short burst of a couple hours, this event is definitely something cool.

I’m looking forward to more events from EMX, and seeing their events continue to grow and get better. It’s definitely something unique, and for being in its first few rounds, it’s off to a great start. What they’re doing is cool, and I fully recommend everyone who’s interested in gaming or electronic music to check out one of their events.

For updates, check out EMX’s social media:

https://www.facebook.com/emxmusic/?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser

https://twitter.com/EMX_Music?s=09

Till next time,

Noah Sanchez

Redout ‘Taking Longer Than Expected,’ Still On Track for Nintendo Switch

When the Nintendo Switch was announced, gaming fans the world over were promised a great proposition, being able to take a home console anywhere, playing full-quality console games on the go. Developing games for the system has been tough for some third parties, however, with games like RiME, WWE 2K18, and Yooka-Laylee being delayed due to optimization issues, and some still suffering performance issues upon release.

Redout, a fast-paced futuristic racer inspired by F-Zero, was initially teased to appear on the Switch with a snazzy one-minute trailer back at Nintendo’s Switch Presentation in January 2017, with a release window of Spring 2017. However, the Spring window passed, and the game did not show up. It was moved to Summer, and then October. Now, Amazon lists the game as releasing March 30, 2018, a full year after the initially proposed timeframe. The publisher of the game for Switch, Nicalis, still has 2017 as the release date for the game. However, this prospect is becoming more and more unlikely by the day.

When contacted by fans asking about the progress of the game, the studio stated that the Switch version is not cancelled, is taking longer than expected, but development is proceeding well. The company adds that it will post a release date once it has one for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Most recently, the developers said they were “trying” to release the game by Christmas. However, it is unlikely it will now hit that goal.

Additionally, the company clarified that another company is handling the Switch version, and a physical version is something it would like to pursue.

 

We asked representatives from Nicalis and 34BigThings why the game is not ready yet, and what is holding it back from release, and if we can have a more firm update on the current state of the game. However, we did not receive a response.

For now, we just have the responses above to analyze. If the developer is to be believed, we should get a release within the next few months.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Big Nintendo Announcement Coming Soon [Rumor]

Nintendo has had a big year so far. They launched the Nintendo Switch, the first home gaming system you can play anywhere. In a surprise announcement, they announced the New 2DS XL, coming alongside two new 3DS games. They wowed us at E3 with a big shocker: Metroid Prime 4, as well as showed other new games coming to the platform such as Kirby, Yoshi, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and Super Mario Odyssey. And most recently, they continued their coverage with more at Gamescom 2017. However, if you thought Nintendo was done this year, they’re not.

We all know Nintendo produces news throughout the year, with some of its biggest announcements at E3. But Nintendo likes to surprise us when we least expect it. Though this year’s E3 was great, there was something still amiss.

As Reggie Fils-Aime said in several interviews, Nintendo will bring all of its major franchises to each platform. So what haven’t we seen on Switch yet? We have not yet seen Animal Crossing, F-Zero, Donkey Kong, Star Fox (though we are getting Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic), Earthbound, and of course, Super Smash Bros. Additionally, we still have not seen Retro Studios’ new IP or anything from Next Level Games. So what’s coming next?

According to SupermetalDave64, a prominent Nintendo YouTuber with industry contacts, Nintendo is preparing a large announcement very soon.

He says the first announcement will not be from Nintendo, but it may be related. The second, he says, will be from Nintendo, and may come in the form of a mid-September Nintendo Direct.

Since the first announcement won’t be from Nintendo, we can only speculate it will be a big third party announcement for the Switch. Currently, it could be anyone’s guess, but if I were to bet on it, it would be a AAA third party game from 2K, Ubisoft, or Activision. Rumors have been pegging Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty WWII, and LA Noire for Switch, so we will find out.

PlayStation has a big press conference on September 19, so it may also be something announced here:

https://gematsu.com/2017/08/2017-playstation-press-conference-japan-set-september-19

As for Nintendo’s own announcement, it is also unknown at this point. However, it is slated to be coming soon after. Nintendo is holding a special panel on September 1 at PAX West to possibly talk about something that will be revealed just before it. It could potentially be about an already announced game such as Super Mario Odyssey or Metroid: Samus Returns. Or it could be about something brand new.

If we were to put any immediate bets on what would be unveiled next month, it would be Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch, or Retro Studios’ new IP. Or maybe even Metroid Prime 4? Virtual Console is also a good bet, with GameCube titles recently appearing on Nintendo’s websites.

What else could it be?

Additional speculation suggests Nintendo could be revealing a new console. Not only has SuperMetalDave hinted at this before, but our own independent developer source from previous interviews has stated that there were three parts to the NX: one portable, one docked, and… something else. And one has not been shown off yet.

We will see soon.

SuperMetalDave64, the rumor’s perpetuator, has been hinting at this for weeks, saying there are two parts to this, and plans to hold a livestream to discuss after each announcement. He also hints that Nintendo will hold a Direct or a special event in mid-September for the final announcement.

SuperMetalDave has gotten things correct before, such as two new Metroid games being announced at E3 2017. So there is reason to put faith into his presumptions.

He’s put together a rather interesting teaser trailer hinting at what is in store.

Stay tuned to Gamer Splash for the latest on this topic.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash