Versus Mode: Stereoscopic 3D, Fat Avatars, and More

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Topics in gaming news debated by GameCola writers and industry professionals.The Jaws 19 scene from Back to the Future Part 2

In this edition of  “Versus Mode” we have:

NewbieMania II logo

NewbieMania II!

Matt Jonas vs. Jeff Day vs. David Donovan vs. Mark Freedman vs. Christian Porter vs. Justin Luschinski!

GameCola’s brand-new, as well as returning, writers are duking it out in “Versus Mode” to give you a taste of their individual writing styles, discussing the future of 3D gaming technology, whether Sony could get away with charging for its online services, obese avatars, and more.


1. The future of gaming is in stereoscopic 3D.

Jeff Day: If I want to see 3D while I’m watching a movie, I’ll just turn to my left and…BAM! Lamp. Turn to my right and…ZOWIE! …Another lamp. What a cramped basement. But considering I’m not much of a movie watcher—except for my 4-DVD set of Rocket Robin Hood episodes—I don’t think this interests me one bit, unless they decide to make a porno Blu-ray movie with this technology. I still wouldn’t buy 3D glasses, but the mere thought would get me through any rough work days I may experience.

Matt Jonas: The future of gaming is in stereoscopic 3D? It’s no “future”; many games have already tried thisMetal Gear Ac!d 2‘s stereoscopic 3D was just an excuse to add a pervert mode to the game—the actual gameplay within the 3D mode was confined to half of the PSP’s screen space, making it hardly possible to see more than three feet ahead of you.

A pair of 3D glasses

Admittedly, it would kick so much arse to have a decent first-person shooter, such as The Darkness, updated into stereoscopic 3D, with all the tentacles of the darkness creatures wrapping around the top of your peripheral vision—but isn’t this really just a stupid gimmick? Hell, I remember when Miis were just a gimmick…

Justin Luschinski: Before we start, Paul didn’t specify whom I would be facing here in “Versus Mode,” so instead of shouting to the immense void of stupidity that is the Internet, I will instead give my invisible opponent a name. Let’s call you Bob.

Bob, listen. I realize that living in a box in some eastern European slum doesn’t really put you in the position to know much about videogames, but let’s be realistic here. Although technological advancement has sped up greatly in recent years, it doesn’t mean that new technology is always instantly accepted by the general public. That’s why we aren’t flying around in hydrogen-fueled hovercars, and our military isn’t running around with SPARTAN armor and looking at their crotches to see what time it is (yes, that is in development). I do believe that the future in gaming does lie in 3D, where we can don a helmet and jump headfirst into a mystical fantasy realm, when we aren’t toiling away on an off-world slave colony at the mercy of our Japanese overlords, but 2014 is too soon a timeframe, I think. With a combination of those 3D glasses and the motion sickness some people complain about, it may become too gimmicky to have any real value and go the way the Nintendo Wii has.

Mark Freedman: 3D games have been around for a long time.  Remember 3D World Runner and Rad Racer (but not Rad Racer 2, for some reason) for the NES?  They came with the glasses, and all I had to do was hit the Select button. I didn’t have to buy a new controller or anything, and now they want me to buy a whole new TV?  I saw Up in 3D, and it wasn’t worth the money.

I don’t get all the hub-bub over 3D.  2D is more than enough for my enjoyment.  And what about Wolfenstein 3D? What the crap? You’re telling me it’s a 3D rendering in a 2D screen?  So will you make a real Wolfenstein 3D and call it Wolfensteien 4D? And will it be banned in Germany?

The Jaws 19 scene from Back to the Future Part 2Back to the Future Part II posits one theory on the future of 3D technology.

Christian Porter: I remember about 15 years ago similar things were being said about virtual reality. Is it the future? Will it replace videogames, TV and human-on-human intercourse?  The answer, of course, was “no,” and all we got out of it were a few vomit-inducing ride-games at upscale arcades (I’m looking at you, Disneyquest) and a shitty Jeff Fahey/Pierce Brosnan movie.

Though 3D looks like it’s getting more of a foothold as of late, it could very easily just be another short-lived revival like it’s had every 20 years since the ‘50s.  It could be neat for some games, but the novelty will die and we’ll go back to the tried and true non-3D gaming.

Though, if you asked me six years ago if the future of gaming was going to be flailing around in front of cameras, standing on balance boards, and making flapping motions with plastic remote controls, I probably would have said you’re crazy, too, so what do I know.

David Donovan: I’ll skip the obvious Virtual Boy jokes and just say: I am deeply concerned that stereoscopic 3D will put us one step closer to virtual reality. This absolutely terrifies me. Not because it will desensitize us into berserk killing machines, or cause people to abandon their real lives to live in the virtual world, or bring about some sort of machine-dominated dystopia starring Keanu Reeves. No, I fear something far darker: that every god-damned game that comes out after the dawn of virtual reality will be an FPS.


2. Microsoft should be allowed to ban users from Xbox Live if they’re using modified consoles, regardless of whether they’re using them to play pirated games or not.

Jeff Day: Look, folks: there is plenty of legal software to play on your Xbox 360. People need to stop modifying their consoles and start supporting what few JRPGs there are for the system. THAT should be our goal: to reduce modding and to increase JRPG circulation. Besides, who really plays Xbox anymore?

Matt Jonas: The purpose of the original Xbox Live bannings was to stop people from gaining an unfair advantage in online gaming. Now, Microsoft is banning consoles and corrupting save data. This technique means that you cannot, under any circumstances, restore corrupted profiles or save data, unless you physically alter the user profile by modifying its hash. What Microsoft have done is employ the use of too much power to stop pirates—and because their technique monitors disc-read speeds, it’s easy for innocent users to get caught up in the crossfire, especially if they’ve ever had a disc read error. I’d argue that Microsoft has gone too far, as this particular method of banning cannot be reversed under any circumstances.

“…modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs, violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live.” Awfully crystal clear, but corrupting profiles and save data is a bit too far, don’t you think?

Cartoon pirate

Justin Luschinski: I can’t seem to remember the name I gave my fantasy opponent last time, so I’m going to call you Thomas this time. Thomas, I never liked you Ivy League types; you snarky buggers think that everything is a subject to debate. Well, this is no such thing. If you modify your Xbox, you’re breaking the law, simple as that. It doesn’t matter if you were doing it for a nefarious reason or not—just don’t do it. Piracy takes advantage of a developer’s hard work, and although you might not necessarily be a pirate, there really is no way to tell the difference, so just don’t do it. I’m sorry if that wasn’t a very funny response, Thomas, but I’m not here to please you, you smug bastard.

Mark Freedman: In my day, we used consoles as-is, and we were proud of it.They have warranties for a reason. Sure, I can modify my dishwasher to scrub my ass cheeks, but I can’t get technical support anymore afterwards.  I don’t think Microsoft should ban people just for playing Pirates of the Caribbean games, though, no matter how much the movies sucked.

Christian Porter: Now this is an issue I’ve been dealing a lot with lately, because my own Xbox is among the legions of those that felt the business end of Microsoft’s banhammer Mjollnir last month.  However, despite that, I still partially disagree with the lawsuit.

I do agree that the Xbox 360, and any game console that one owns, is essentially just another computer that you should be allowed to open, tinker with, and do with whatever you want.  However, I also believe that since Xbox Live belongs to Microsoft, they should be able to set the rules on who can access it, no matter how shitty those rules may be.  I may not be behind Microsoft when they ban people who only opened the box to upgrade a fan that MS fucked up in the first place, but it’s their choice if they want to shit on customers.

On the other hand, I do completely agree that there should be a class action lawsuit against Microsoft for including a special gift for those who got banned—a bit of code in the Xbox that corrupts all future save games, meaning that anything I save from now on will be corrupt if I try to bring it to a different machine. Crippling my system is far outside of Microsoft’s legal boundaries.

David Donovan: Even pirates still have to pay for a Live account, right?  No, really, I’m seriously asking: I don’t have a 360 and have no idea how this all works. (Is the Red Ring of Death some sort of exclusive in-game preorder bonus weapon?) Anyway, my point is that I don’t quite see the business sense in all of this, but I guess MS feels that the deterrent effect on would-be pirates outweighs the revenue lost from would-have-been online gamers. Look, they can do whatever the hell they want, because the only online gaming I’m going to be doing is on my new PS3, and I get to do it for free.


3. It would be a bad move for Sony to start charging for its online services.

Jeff Day: As a PS3 owner who rarely uses it for online purposes, lest another Mega Man title grace its services, I must say…I don’t really care one way or the other. They wouldn’t be charging to USE the PlayStation Network, only to make use of specific game-related content, like playing online or downloading extra skins for your board in Tony Hawk’s Underground 16: Revenge of the Axle Grease Bandit. Now if I were a dedicated online player, I might be a little perturbed. But honestly, who cares? Plus if you pay…you get extra stuff that goons with piggy banks can’t access, and that makes you cool by default. Viva la Visa!

Coverart for the movie FanboysMatt Jonas: The problem with this point is that the evidence is awfully suspect, but I’ll give it a shot. A free online service is Sony’s one saving point amongst my allies who consider themselves fanboys (or fangirls). Whenever I mention that I have had better service on Xbox Live, they spout out about how Sony’s service is free. So if Sony started charging people forMetal Gear Online or Killzone 2 multiplayer, 3/4 of the under 16s or so would no longer be able to play online (result!)—and, of course, it would be a blow to Sony’s own fans, most of whom are children under 16 years old (or people who have the mental capacity of such).

As for subscription content, if we’re talking magazines or the such, yeah, I don’t see a problem with that. I honestly thought that EA was going to go that way with its EA Connect thing that it used in the two Skate games. Subscriptions doesn’t bother me; I just won’t subscribe. Case in point—I get my Xbox Live from redeem codes, not straight out of my direct debit.

Justin Luschinski: Good God Lady Gaga, have you lost your mind?! Where in that cocaine-riddled pop star brain did you get the idea that Sony would actually charge for their online services? That would destroy the only advantage Sony has in the online market! While I do believe that throwing money at a problem will certainly make it go away, or at least make it more difficult to see under a pile of Washingtons, the changes that a subscription-based service would bring wouldn’t be seen until some time later, and in that time the people that liked free things would leave, thus leaving Sony with no money. The article mentions a few other subscription services that may be implemented on the PSN, such as renting games or subscribing to a gaming news service. Those do sound like interesting offers for anyone that doesn’t want to interact with the outside world, so it’s good that Sony is trying to reach out to the hermit demographic.

Mark Freedman: I really hope this doesn’t happen, as a PS3 user.  They’re already stiffing its users by not having any exclusive online content, but considering the fact that there are not many online players on PSN as it is, charging would not be good. They deffered this by charging companies to have demos and other crap available . Now their shitty avatar service makes you BUY avatar icons….great, just what I need. A 50-cent crappy jpg file.

Christian Porter: “Oh yeah, well at least our online service is free!” has become the battlecry of the PS3 fanboy when embroiled in forum combat with opposing fanboys. When you take that away, even the fanboys will start to see that all they have is an overpriced black box with the Spider-Man font on it.

David Donovan: GOD DAMMIT, when did they start talking about this!? OK, back to the PC for me.


4. If their Xbox Avatars were as overweight as they are, gamers would be motivated to get into better shape.

Jeff Day: My Avatar will look like a twig. That is, that’s what it would look like if I played Xbox 360, which I don’t, and which nobody does.

Matt Jonas: This, I can confirm, won’t work. With Wii Fit, when you input your height, and it monitors your weight, it does a calculation, and poof—your Mii is suddenly obese. I’m not obese, hell, not even “slightly obese.” It ain’t no surprise that Wii Fit got traded in, is it?

Anyway, I don’t like this idea of sourcing “trusted third-party healthcare information.” Isn’t this just Microsoft asking to be sued? “Yeah, I’m 6’5 and 76 kilos—and my Avatar is overweight,” says Gamer. “Our trusted healthcare information tells us that you are overweight,” says Microsoft.

Fat avatar

This gimmicky idea is a waste of time, just like the Avatar Marketplace! Health-generated Avatars—how are they going to calculate this, anyway? Will there be a user override setting somewhere? I don’t agree with the other information they’re after, either. Religion, political sway—even down to intelligence. Will our IQs be floating above our Avatars? It is supposed to make it easier for like-minded individuals to connect—but we’re after deathmatches, not Match.com!

Gah, Microsoft is just pissing me off so much right now.

Justin Luschinski: OK Queen Elizabeth, now you’ve gone too far. No doubt, having your populace in perfect shape will help you realize your evil scheme of invading the United States—well not this time! Our society is pressured into becomming fit enough. We don’t need our escapism-rich videogames reminding us how fat we are; we already know! I think the general gamimg populace knows that you can’t just spend most of your time playing videogames, and they especially don’t need their Avatars mirroring their excessive jelly rolls. It would be like forcing a diabetic to stand in a candy store for an hour. In fact, gaming has helped me greatly in getting fit! If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that you’ve always got to be ready for when a secret government organization wants to employ you to single-handedly accomplish black ops. Also, sending it to third parties sounds like a horrible idea, as that data will probably be used to make some sort of fitness program game. Frankly, I really don’t need anymore crappy plastic utility attachments gathering dust in my closet.

Mark FreedmanI don’t really want to know what the people I’m playing with look like, nor do I care about their religious beliefs. Still, I do sometimes wish that there was an available Ghostbuster with a turban or yarmulke.  What they should do is penalize you in-game.  Imagine if Mario kept getting fatter to the point where you had to go play outside a little so you could jump over a tall pipe.

Christian Porter: Putting a reminder to go exercise and stop being such a fat fuck on my Xbox, the reason I lead a sedentary lifestyle to begin with, seems like putting a reminder to not eat a bunch of potato chips at the bottom of the inside of a Pringles can. The warning comes entirely too late.  Besides, speaking as a fatty myself, I can personally assure you that we know we’re fat and we don’t continue to be fat because we haven’t been reminded of it enough.  We continue to be fat because we like pie.  Sweet, delicious pie.

David Donovan: Now this is actually an interesting concept. However, in my particular case, I’d have the opposite problem: the sensor would detect the magnificently waifish fellow holding the gamepad and accordingly assign me 1 HP in every game. I suppose I could try to bulk up to gain more HP, but I’d be more likely to just consider myself on permanent “Nightmare Mode” and hope that there’s a helluva lot of save points. There’s probably some sort of metaphor in here regarding the ineffectivness of my survival strategy in a real-life zombie apocalypse, but I prefer not to dwell on it.

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