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Google+ Stories And Movies Offer More Reasons To House Your Media With Google

Gorawyn:

This article is pretty nifty for those of us who use cloud storage with Google. My concern is if stories are created from photos automatically, what about those really bad pictures I don’t particularly like? Will they also end up part of a story I would not want anyone to see? And Privacy. In a world where everything finds its way onto the internet, do we want it auto categorizing our lives and publishing them?

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Google has been doing some impressive things with the personal media of its users – it introduced its Auto Awesome features last year at Google I/O to bring some instant editing magic to user photo collections, for instance. Auto Awesome could tweak stuff like contrast and color on images to make pictures pop in a way similar to what pros might do when making light edits in programs like Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture, but without any intervention required so anyone could use it. Today, it continues that trend with Stories.

The new Stories feature builds on that progress, adding a way to cohesively build a narrative out of your images, which otherwise can appear just sort of hastily thrown together or dumped off of a storage card. Google will automatically find your best shots, factor in location data and stitch them together into travelogue collections. It’s already available…

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Games with Gold coming to Xbox One in June

According to Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, Xbox is dedicated to giving more choices to the fans. This includes adding Games with Gold to the XBox One in June. This is definitely something to look forward to as currently the available games on Xbox One are limited. New content is sorely desired in the gaming community for the Xbox One.

Next, we’re bringing more value to Xbox Live Gold members and offering all Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners access to entertainment apps whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership.  In early June, here is what you can expect from the new generation of Xbox Live:

  • Free games with Games with Gold**. Since Games with Gold launched on Xbox 360 a year ago, over 12 million people have enjoyed great free games, resulting in nearly 200 million hours of free fun playing Games with Gold titles. We’ve been learning from your feedback and have focused on making improvements each month to the selection of titles. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Games with Gold for Xbox 360 and as a thank you for helping shape this program, members will receive an additional free Xbox 360 game in June. The Games with Gold titles for Xbox 360 in June are “Dark Souls,” “Charlie Murder” and a bonus game of “Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.” We’re pleased to bring Games with Gold to Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One in June. Members will have subscription-based access to free games ranging from top hits to breaking indie stars. The program will launch on Xbox One with “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” and “Halo: Spartan Assault.” A single Gold membership will get you access to the free games for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.
  • Exclusive Discounts. Deals with Gold will also launch for Xbox One in June, delivering discounts for great games each month, with significant savings for Xbox Live Gold members. The first titles offered in June will include “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Ryse: Son of Rome,” and a few other surprises. In the coming months, we will offer significant savings of up to 50 – 75 percent off certain titles. This program will continue to be available for Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox 360. And new on Xbox One, we will launch a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members where we will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.
  • Popular entertainment apps will be available for all Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners. Xbox 360 has been a leader in delivering entertainment experiences for years, with over 170 global entertainment apps and experiences available today. We’re constantly adding new partners and experiences to the growing catalog on Xbox One. Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences – whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership. This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more.*** Microsoft experiences including Internet Explorer, Skype, OneDrive and OneGuide will also be available to all Xbox customers.**** You can find a full list of apps and features that will be available below.

XBox Live

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+1 Life

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(images created by mylifearegames.tumblr.com)

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The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile Review

WARNING: Minor spoilers follow concerning the finale of the first Episode of The Wolf Among Us

 

Photo credit to vg247.com

Photo credit to vg247.com

 

It’s official. The newest chapter in Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us has elevated the series from “fantastic” to “better than the first season The Walking Dead.” This new chapter takes the narrative, which has been slowly building in the previous two episodes, kicks it into high gear and left me staring at my monitor with my jaw nearly hitting the floor. By the time the episode came to a close I was completely speechless and unable to move from my chair. Episode 3: A Crooked Mile is by far the best chapter that has been released so far and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

A Crooked Mile picks up right where the previous chapter left us. Bigby has identified the supposed killer that has been terrorizing Fabletown and now he must work with Snow White to hunt the killer down before he is able to escape the city and disappear. Unfortunately for Bigby he has to pursue the killer while working with the fables who, up to this point, very nearly hate and despise him. Once again the story provides a few important choices that serve to progress the narrative, as well as flesh out the character of Bigby, and some actually caught me off guard.

By far the best aspect of this new episode is the interactions with Bigby and the other fables of Fabletown. The conversations with other characters, like Grendel and the Woodsman, really help to define the character of Bigby as the player sees him. You can either play Bigby as a sympathetic hero who’s just trying to help a town full of people who hate his guts, or as a renegade sheriff who will stop at nothing to find who he’s after no matter the cost. The interactions were so brilliant that I was left wanting to play the chapter again immediately after my first playthrough just to see how things would change.

The gameplay itself is the standard fare that we’ve all gotten used to with these Telltale games. Combat is still mostly comprised of quick time events with different clickable objects to decide how and where you attack your opponent. While I’m not the biggest fan of QTE’s as a whole, the ones in The Wolf Among Us as well as The Walking Dead have never bugged me, however if you’ve never been a fan of the Telltale QTE, this chapter doesn’t mix things up and won’t change your mind.

Performance wise The Wolf Among Us still runs pretty well. Every so often a loading screen would run a little long, or the screen would freeze up when the location changed. Luckily this didn’t ruin the experience and the game never crashed for me, like it had in the previous chapter. The only real criticism I have is that, at points, the characters can be stiff and I’ve caught some animations repeat themselves multiple times in the same conversation.

My other issue, and this is just a personal gripe, is with the title screen and opening sequence. I’m not sure why Telltale insists on inserting the same title sequence with Bigby ominously walking through the streets smoking a cigarette while the credits pass and the theme plays. It’s not terrible I just feel like it breaks the flow of the narrative, especially after they left us with a massive cliffhanger from the last episode. However, like I said, this is just a gripe and doesn’t make me think any less of the experience.

 

Final Verdict: This new chapter of The Wolf Among Us is absolutely fantastic. If you have been pondering picking the game up I suggest that you do so. The setting is fantastic, the characters are wonderful, and the story is intense. Check it out!

 

PS: (Spoilerish)  Just for the record. When Bigby finally turns into the Big Bad Wolf and throws down…it’s awesome in every meaning of the word.

 

Have you played The Wolf Among Us up to this point, or have you been on the fence on whether you should buy it? What do you think of it? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

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Gaming Funny of the Week

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I do believe we are missing 1st edition here…

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Bad News for Gamers – Facebook Purchased the VR System Oculus Rift

Photo Credit from Kotaku.com

Photo Credit from Kotaku.com

 

You may remember not to long ago we did a piece on a company called Super Tea Studios. These guys and gals had created a phenomenal game that was to be released on the system Oculus. Read that article here. The Oculus Rift is a technology that allows the user to experience the game they play in genuine 360 degree virtual reality. The headset tracks your head movement and gives you an immersion not before achieved in gaming.

The following is an excerpt from the About Us section on the Oculus Rift website.

“Oculus VR® was founded by Palmer Luckey, self-described virtual reality enthusiast and hardware geek. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development of their first product, the Oculus Rift, a ground-breaking virtual reality headset for immersive gaming. With the support of top video game companies including Valve, Epic Games and Unity, the Kickstarter was an enormous success, raising over $2.4 million in funding from project backers and supporters around the world.”

Now the question every gamer and game development company is asking themselves is “Why sell out to facebook?” Are all those Kickstarter backers going to see any return on their investment into the future of gaming? What of developers like Super Tea Studio? Indie Developers don’t want to see what Kyle Durkee so aptly said amusingly enough in response to a Facebook post by Lieryn Hlaalu-Falzoni the co-founder and level designer at Super Tea Studios, “I can see Facebook Voidwalker now “Pay a dollar to cast the fire spell… Or get 10 of your friends to help you learn the spell” They did not spend time, money, and effort, to build a social platform in the guise of gaming; they developed for “a ground-breaking virtual reality headset for immersive gaming.””

Virtual reality is the next big thing in gaming and entertainment. Not in social media. Sure you can add those things in to the equation, but do we really need to see our Facebook posts in 3D?

Markus “Notch” Persson the creator of top selling Indie game “Minecraft” and founder of company Mojang, pulled out of preliminary talks after Facebook bought the Oculus Rift system. This would have been a spectacular game for the system. The graphics are not intense but the game is completely immersive. Imagine how it would feel walking around in those castles or dungeons or tree houses you have built. Imagine the feeling of running from a Creeper in 3D. Not going to happen on Oculus now.

Notch had a lot to say about his decision to pull out on his blog on notch.net.

Of course, they wanted Minecraft. I said that it doesn’t really fit the platform, since it’s very motion based, runs on java (that has a hard time delivering rock solid 90 fps, especially since the players build their own potentially hugely complex levels), and relies a lot on GUI. But perhaps it would be cool to do a slimmed down version of Minecraft for the Oculus. Something free, similar to the Minecraft PI Edition, perhaps? So I suggested that, and our people started talking to their people to see if something could be done.

And then, not two weeks later, Facebook buys them.

Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.

Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away?

But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.

Fortunately, the rise of Oculus coincided with competitors emerging. None of them are perfect, but competition is a very good thing. If this means there will be more competition, and VR keeps getting better, I am going to be a very happy boy. I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.

And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Now here is my question to Oculus Rift and one I think the entire gaming community will back me on. What the hell were you thinking? Oh wait, I know. Money. Your grassroots development and the gaming community that backed you on Kickstarter did not chip in even one dollar to see Facebook take over the next generation of gaming. They paid to invest in the future of gaming.

So here is what I say to Notch, as well as to Lieryn and the peeps over at Super Tea Studios. Keep developing. We need you and developers like you, to change the face of gaming. Thank you for not selling out to social media. Keep working with games.

Related Links

http://www.reddit.com/user/palmerluckey – Luckey answers questions about the acquisition.

http://notch.net/2014/03/virtual-reality-is-going-to-change-the-world/ -Full article on Notch.net

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2014/03/25/minecraft-creator-kills-oculus-rift-plans-because-facebook-creeps-him-out/ -Forbes article.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/superteastudios/voidwalker – Super Tea Studios Kickstarter

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Gaming Funny of the Week

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