Do you hear that? That’s the sound of childhood calling. Please be good.
Apparently a new Prince of Persia game leaked on YouTube eight years ago and it only got picked up today. Cool story that a leak like this slipped through the cracks. I’ve never played a Prince of Persia game, but this leak footage strikes me as God of War-inspired. I actually started reading The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993 this week due to some buzz surrounding its most recent release. Seems like a rare insight into the development of a game from start to finish that ended up turning into a big franchise.
I took the liberty of brightening up the image to see if I could discern any difference in the DS hardware, but nothing stands out except that Woozle may be using an Electric Blue DS.
Woozle says that this first iteration will be compatible with the original DS only, but future versions could work with the DS Lite and other console revisions. There will also be multiple options for displaying both DS screens on one TV. This is super promising for the DS, since there are very few ways to get the console onto a television.
I was listening to “Episode 281: ‘A Kryptonian Baby’, With Rene Ritchie” of The Talk Show with John Gruber this past week and John shared his opinion on film and how it culminates the arts. You can click the link in the episode title to be taken right to the chunk of the episode I am referring to, if you’d like. John says he considers movies to be the meta form of art because movies contain all other art.
Those forms of art are:
- The writing of fiction
- Acting and the actor’s ability to own a character and bring them to life
- The art/language of cinema
During this quarantine, it seems to have idly occurred to John why credits are so long (he said this with a chuckle, I’m sure John knew beforehand why credits are so long). John’s opinion got me thinking: Video games can have all of that plus interactivity and the design challenges that come with it.
I’m not writing this to argue with John or try to change his mind. That would be pointless, rude, and silly. I just want to talk about video games and John has given me something to chew on.
The interactivity in games thrives at creating empathy between the player and the game character. There is just something about putting people in control of a character that can make the player feel a sense of ownership. But with this new category of interactivity, the bar to entry goes up. There is an inherent skill level to playing a game. That bar is getting lower every year with developers making games more accessible than ever. The Xbox Adaptive controller is a feat unto itself and opens the doors on millions of games for millions of people. It is wonderful to see games becoming more approachable than ever.
It helps when nearly everyone has a gaming device in their pocket. Whether it is playing a quick round of Threes or watching a person stream a round of Fortnite on Twitch, more eyes are on gaming than ever before. It certainly helps explain why the video game industry has the highest revenue in entertainment. In 2019 alone, video games generated $120 billion! Mobile gaming alone made over $64 billion.
When think about interactivity as art, my brain immediately goes to Naughty Dog, because they have been on my mind quite a bit lately. So to avoid running the well dry, let’s turn to Nintendo and Xbox.
I recently replayed half of the Halo games with some friends. During the high-action opening of Halo 5: Guardians, I couldn’t help but feel that it would have been much cooler to play it instead of watch it. Nearly all the moves that the characters perform in the cinematic are actions you can implement in play, with a chunk of them being brand new to the Halo series. Especially with a new group of characters (except for Buck), I feel like playing through this rush down a mountain would have amped fans up while showcasing just what these new Spartans are capable of, while teaching the new mechanics for a nearly 15-year-old series at the time.
On the other end of the scale, Nintendo gives players the keys to the kingdom in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo teaches you the new mechanics in the game’s opening area: Players learn about the new physics, tools, and environments all through interaction. It eases you into this new version of Hyrule with engagement rather than show and tell.
Not all games have “main characters” or even stories to follow. Just look at mega popular games such as Tetris or Candy Crush. Despite what the Tetris company would like you to believe, those Tetrominoes are not characters. So not every game will get players to engage on an emotional or critical level, but movies don’t either. If it all did, I think it’d be exhausting. Sometimes you need just the bombast of a Halo game or an Avengers movie. Other times you want to engage with the art like with Journey or Parasite. Sometimes you just want to be stressed out to the max like when playing Resident Evil 7 in VR or when watching Uncut Gems. It’s that added edge of interactivity that I think can elevate video games to the top. Maybe next time you’ll stick around for the credits in a video game too.
Right before Super Bowl LIV, our living room TV died. Just bit the dust out of nowhere. Abby and I were rocking a 2007 JVC LT-46AM73 that we were graciously given for free. The only investment was a $50 stand to put it on our entertainment center. It served us well, but I always had nitpicks with it. It cropped off the image on all sides with no scaling options, had no modern audio out options, and only two HDMI ports that were accessible. It was chunkier than most HD TVs I’ve used before, but at 46” it was a significant upgrade over the 32” we owned before.
While I always wanted to upgrade the TV, we couldn’t argue with the low, low price of free. The TV worked well enough to serve both our watching and playing purposes. I was in no rush to upgrade.
One night, as I turned it on for some regular TV watching, the thing just went kaput. I asked Abby to turn on the Apple TV and the JVC TV just died. I tried unplugging it and plugging it back in: No dice. I turned to Google and found out it was not uncommon for this model. One fix I found involved taking off the back of the TV and heating up a specific capacitor with a hair dryer until the unit powered on. That sealed the deal for me. It was time for a new TV.
I could not hide my excitement at the idea of buying a new TV. I have wanted to make the 4K leap for years. Encouraged by mid-generation console upgrades, a steadily growing 4K movie collection, and seeing my friends make the upgrade, I talked a lot about investing in my own 4K future. We own both a PS4 Pro and an Apple TV 4K, but were never getting the full power out of either of them.
After sifting through the options and ultra convenient Super Bowl deals, I landed on two options:
The key trade offs were the price difference/deals, the 10” size difference, LED or OLED, and future proofing features (like HDMI 2.1).To spare you all the details of the of my comparison and discussions Abby and I had, we ended up going with the LG C9 55” OLED, which is the one I really wanted.
We picked it up on a Friday night, so I spent most of that evening just rewiring our entertainment center and putting everything in its place. The first thing we watched was Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse in 4K HDR before I calibrated the TV. My eyeballs couldn’t handle all the colors.
I spent a decent chunk of time Saturday calibrating the TV itself; and I learned a lot. My buddy Logan told me that there was a bunch of settings to tweak when he bought his 4K a couple years ago. I had a hard time picturing that much tedium. Boy, was I wrong.
Breaking news: TVs are like full blown computers nowadays! The LG C9 can remember the settings you select for each HDMI port, which was a totally foreign concept to me. I started with RTINGS calibration guide and began applying their recommended settings to each port. By HDMI 3, I realized that RTINGS suggested settings were more optimized for movies and TV shows than they were for video game play.
I turned to My Life In Gaming and their 4K setup episode. I fused the two sources of information to make each port exactly what I want. I’ve got three game consoles hooked up (for the first time ever!) and our Apple TV 4K. If I watch a Blu Ray disc (or a 4K Blu Ray when I upgrade to the PS5 and Xbox Series X), I will have to adjust the settings to get the video quality I’d prefer for video. That is not something I’m super looking forward too. It would be nice if there were profiles or toggles to switch between custom preset settings made by the user.
I never knew how much visual information I was missing. More so than raw graphical detail, the colors and lighting that are capable with HDR is astounding. It reminds me of when I put on glasses for the first time; I was miss out on a whole world of detail.
Beyond the present with only my PS4 Pro, the next generation of consoles is looming on the horizon. The known specs at the time of this writing claim the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be capable of 8K at the max, including 4K 120Hz. While my TV can’t handle 8K, it can handle 4K 120Hz thanks to having the HDMI 2.1 standard. If both the input and output devices are HDMI 2.1 and you use a cable that can handle the bandwidth, you are golden. Being able to handle the upcoming generation was imperative in my research for the TV.
I remember offhandedly saying to one of my friends “I will have a 4K TV by the time The Last Of Us Part II release.” As that time came closer, I knew that was not an active goal I was pursuing. There were simply more important things to save up for that impact far more than my entertainment system. Despite the TV not being a planned purchase this soon, it has amped my hype for the PS5 and Xbox Series X much higher than it was with my standard HD TV. Having this new 4K HDR TV has kicked me back to my PS4 library to check out what the Pro has to offer. Even impending titles like The Last Of Us Part II have had their hype levels dramatically increased.
My new TV is probably the raddest purchase I’ve ever made. It is such a multipurpose device; from the people that use it to the content it can present. I am extremely happy with it and cannot wait to see what the next generation of video games will bring to the screen.