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Nintendo NX and the Future of Gaming
posted on: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The recent report from Eurogamer about the next Nintendo console, the NX, has resulted in a lot of different opinions online. If you haven't heard the news already, the NX is expected to be a completely mobile console, more like a PS Vita than a 3DS, that has detachable controllers on either side of the screen. The reason for the detachable controllers is because the NX is also a 'home console', by docking the NX to your HDTV you can detach the controllers and play games from the couch just like you would with a PS4 or Xbox One.

In addition to the interesting form factor the NX also has another large break from conventional consoles, it is expected to run on a system on a chip build by Nvidia for tablets and smartphones. Specifically, the rumors are that the NX will run on the current Tegra X1 or an, as yet, unreleased successor the X2.

As you might expect, responses from the gaming public have been all over the map. I am very excited and intrigued by this, especially because it likely means that all Nintendo franchises will now be available for one device. Being able to play all of Nintendo's new releases on one device, either on the go or at home, is like a dream come true.

The Future of Gaming circa 2011

After reading the news I quickly remembered an article that I had written on the F5 Games blog years ago, and I actually had to go to the Internet Wayback machine to find it. At the time I was trying to decide what the 'future of gaming' would look like. Based on trends in mobile and console game as of 2011 I envisioned a future where mobile gaming would take over, even more than it actually has I'll admit, and that you would be able to use your phone as your on-the-go gaming device and dock it with your TV when you got home to get your high-def home console experience. While the NX isn't a smartphone, if the rumors are true, not only will it fit this usage style but it will also use the exact same chip family that I predicted would make all of this possible 5 years ago!

I'll post a link to the full article on the Wayback Machine at the end of this post but I want to quote a few sections below that are most relevant to the NX announcement.

On closing the hardware gap between mobile devices and consoles

The real reason that smartphones will quickly move up to fill the role of home gaming consoles is parallelization, or multi-core chips.

Recently, at Mobile World Congress 2011, Nvidia revealed their newest mobile chipset codenamed ‘Kal-El’. This mobile processor, designed for smartphones and tablets, is not only a technological monster, it’s a quad-core chip. This chip, which is planned to hit in products before the end of the year, enables not just 1080p video but 1440p, it has support for 3D video, and it has a 12 core Geforce GPU that will run circles around just about every existing mobile graphics chip on the market. Never content to rest on their heels, Nvidia also showed their roadmap for Tegra over the next few years which displays even larger performance enhancements coming on yearly cycles all the way through 2014.

The Nvidia Tegra X1 that is rumored to be in NX development kits has 8 CPU cores, 256 GPU cores, and can display 4K video at 60FPS. If Nintendo uses a newer version, the X2, it is possible that it could reach Xbox One levels of performance when the device is docked and not worried about draining a battery.

On the power of the dock

The second reason it’s hard to think of your smartphone as a home gaming console is precisely because we’re talking about a phone. A phone is something you take with you on the go, it’s something you keep in your pocket and a device that you have a very personal connection with. Game consoles, however, are something that you bring home from the store, stick under your TV, and then sit down in front of when you want to relax and escape into another world. For the last 25 years, even with all the technological advancement, game consoles have stayed the same in one very important way; they plug into your TV and collect dust for 80%-90% of the day.
I think it is amazing that this standard view of consoles has persisted as long as it has. After buying my PS4 it sat under my TV for months just idling probably 90% of the day. Then in the evening I may get to spend an hour playing a game, or more likely, 2 hours watching a Blu-Ray. Why do we spend so much money for an expensive, hot, and power hungry brick to collect dust in our entertainment centers?
...the Dock doesn’t just have to be a dumb hub waiting for it’s brain to be plugged in. All of the media streaming functionalities that home consoles provide could be included in the hub itself and used when there is no phone plugged in at all. You could still stream movies, and music, and pictures, still watch Netflix and listen to Internet Radio all without needing to dock anything. Then when you plug in your phone you can tap into all that extra power for gaming and 3D movies, and video conferencing, the list goes on and on. Anything that you can do with a current home console you’ll be able to do with a smartphone and an HD dock in the next couple years.
This is all still true of mobile phones, but instead of a unified 'TV' interface appearing when our phones are connected we have settled on streaming content to our TVs on an app by app basis.

The Future ( predicted in 2011)

Imagine a near future where you bring home your new smartphone with 4, or maybe 8, processor cores and a multi-core graphics chip and you dock it with your HDTV. Beyond just providing a new media browsing interface the dock also connects your phone to a power source so it can really crank up the performance and not worry about battery life. That could mean that some of the cores on your phone only activate when docked, or just that the phone overclocks into a performance mode and offers better graphics, sound, and AI when it’s connected to your home system. The dock also acts as a hub for your wireless gamepads, so you can kick your feet up on the couch and start playing your favorite first person shooter, online with your friends. When a call comes in, or you get a text, you can see a little alert in the upper corner of the screen and either accept the call or ignore it until later. If you choose to take the call it could transmit it to your bluetooth headset while you continue to rack up kills in Call of Duty 6. When you’re done gaming you still have access to all of the features of your smartphone, just through a larger screen. You can watch movies, listen to music, check your email, send a tweet, etc. etc. And when you’re done you just pick up your phone and walk away, and you don’t have to leave $400 worth of gaming technology sitting on a shelf not being used 90% of the time.
So there you have it. I'm obviously excited about the NX because I predicted this style of gaming taking over the world more than 5 years ago. Here's hoping Nintendo and I had the right idea.


P.S. - Okay, okay, I'll admit that I missed the mark on what number Call of Duty we would be on by the time this happened. What is it now, 12?

Original Post cached on the Wayback Machine

2015 in Review and What's Next for F5
posted on: Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The year is coming to a close and that always puts me in the mood to take a look back and to set some goals for the year to come. Today I'd like to do just that; take a look at some interesting things from 2015 and talk about where I'm planning to take F5 in 2016 and beyond.

Best of 2015

While there is no limit to the number of 'Best of' lists out there I thought this would be a good space to add my own two cents. While I honestly didn't play as many games this year as I have in the past I still feel pretty confident that I saw the best 2015 had to offer. My choice for 'Best Game of 2015' goes to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.





The Witcher 3 has been winning awards all over the Internet for the last few weeks so you've likely already read about how great this game is. In short, the Witcher 3 is fantastic. The combat is fun and deep, the story is engrossing, the characters are interesting, there is very little of the open-world 'busy work' that you often find in RPGs, and the technology is incredible which makes this one of the most visually impressive games I've ever seen.





In addition to all of those points I feel like the game really excels at telling a deep and adult story. Not adult in that there is violence, nudity and sex but adult in that it shows a world that isn't idealized, and that reflects our own in ways many people may be afraid to admit. Your choices matter in the Witcher 3. They matter in determining what happens in your version of the story and also in determining who lives and who dies. They matter in determining who will be allied with you later on and who will be out in the world, either fighting for your enemies or dead at the hands of some other character. They also matter in how you interact with your adopted daughter Ciri in ways that few games have ever managed.

With all that said, there is one problem that I have with the Witcher 3 which is informing how I make my own games in the coming year. The Witcher 3 is BIG! It's such a hugely massive game that I've been playing it since release and still haven't finished it! I have three small children in the house running around and doing wonderful kid things all day, which means I don't have much time to sit down and engross myself in a game like the Witcher. I have to steal hours at night when everyone else is asleep so that I can live through the adventures of Geralt, and I think that is actually a pretty big problem, not just for me but for gaming in general.





If The Witcher 3 is the best game of the year, and it does have this incredibly deep and engrossing story that resonates with an adult audience, then I want the largest number of people possible to be able to enjoy it. But The Witcher is limited in the audience it can capture, both by it being released on consoles, it being a 'difficult to play' RPG ( in that it is intimidating for many people to try and play games of this type ), and that even after you jump those hurdles you then have to dedicate dozens of hours to the game to see it through.

I'm not trying to fault anyone for this, CD Projekt Red made the game they wanted to make, and it's fantastic. But as I think more and more about it I'm afraid that the traditional 'gamer' game is getting in it's own way and not allowing itself to expand to a broader audience. This is something that I want to try and explore at F5 in 2016.

My Game of the Year Runner-up is Super Mario Maker by Nintendo. I don't think any other game has been played more at our house this year than Mario Maker. Nintendo has done the impossible with this one, they turned a 'productivity app' into one of the most entertaining games of the year. Nintendo literally released a level editor as a game and it's a blast to play with. My 6 year old son has created dozens of levels and loves to see how many people have played or stared them online. He has also played hundreds of levels made by other users and it is incredible to see the inventiveness and imagination that people have come up with.





Mario Maker is obviously a very different kind of game than The Witcher but it excels at being easy to pick up and play either in short bursts or over longer periods of level design. It's depth comes from the constant discovery of new things you see in the levels of other or in trying to accomplish something that the tools don't quite allow and then being wowed at the outcome. It's absolutely a must play.

What's next for F5 in 2016

I'm very excited for 2016 as it will see the release of our next game, and our first release in over a year! As I mentioned above, this year I am very interested in trying to create a mobile game that has the ability to reach a massive audience but that can also communicate something more to them than just mindless or time-wasting action. To accomplish that we are currently working on a new RPG for mobile that will combine a tactical combat system with a story that I hope will resonate with players and engage them on a level that they don't usually see in a mobile game.

As this is a mobile game you'll be able to play it in short bursts whenever you have a couple free minutes but I'm hopeful that the story and character elements will stick with you in between sessions and not only entice you to play more but also give you something to think about and discuss with your friends.

It's a tall order, but I've decided that if I am going to continue making games they need to have more weight than the games I have created before. We'll see how it turns out, but hopefully at the end of 2016 I'll be writing a very different kind of year in review post.

Happy New Year! And thank you to all of our fans and player, I think you'll really love what we have in store for you this year.

The Hunted - Available now for iOS and your PC
posted on: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Hunted for iOS

That's right, The Hunted is out now all over the world! If you have an iPhone or iPad you can grab the game from the Appstore right now and jump in the game!





The Hunted on PC

But, what if you don't have an iPhone? Are you just out of luck, is there to be no awesome online deathmatch action for you? To that I say NO. To that I say, you can play in your web browser! That's right, simply by visiting The Hunted's Online Player you can play online with everyone in the game directly from your computer!





So what are you waiting for? Jump in there and start hunting some people! Here are those links again, just in case you skipped over them.

Download The Hunted for iOS

Play The Hunted Online in your browser

Good Hunting!

The Hunted
The Hunted - Game Modes
posted on: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We're taking a quick break from our 'Meet the Hunted' series to talk about the game modes that you'll be able to enjoy when the game launches tomorrow! (Nov 20).

Hunted Game Modes

The Hunted allows for both free-for-all and team gameplay in four different games modes. We'll take a quick look at each of them to explain how they work so you'll know what to expect when you start playing.

  • Deathmatch
  • King of the Hill
  • Krazy King
  • Skulls

Deathmatch

Deathmatch in The Hunted has the same classic feel that you'll remember from early 90s shooters. It's kill or be killed in the arena. Each player you take out rewards you with a point and the first player, or team, to hit the kill max for that game wins. You can play in a game from 2 to 8 players either as a free for all or on teams, and it's a blast.

One thing that is different in The Hunted is that when you take out another player their main weapon is left on the battlefield for any other player to pick up. When you grab another player's weapon you can carry it around as long as you like but you can only fire it for one full clip of ammo. This lets you change out your damage potential for a few seconds and gives you a quick boost as a reward for your kill.

King of the Hill

King of the Hill is another classic multiplayer mode that appears in The Hunted. In this mode there is a control point, or hill, that appears on the map in a specific spot. To win the match you, or your team, has to hold the hill for a set number of seconds.

To hold the hill only you or your teammate can be inside it. You'll know this is the case because the hill will turn green and a green '+1' will appear on the screen every second. If there is an enemy player in the hill with you then it will turn yellow and no one will receive points until one of you leaves. When one of your enemies controls the hill it will turn red and a red '+1' will appear on the screen for each second they control it.



This is an awesome team mode because it rewards teamwork and it helps to concentrate all the action into one spot on the map. This usually results in some pretty epic moments.

Krazy King

Krazy King grabs all the awesome-ness of King of the Hill and takes it on the move! In Krazy King you're still playing King of the Hill but the hill doesn't stay in one spot anymore. The hill will disappear for a small amount of time and then re-appear in a different location on the map. This creates a mad scramble to the new hill zone and usually creates running firefights from one point to the other.



Basically, it's great; you should play it.

Skulls

Skulls is a really fun mode that combines aspects from a bunch of different competitive game types. In Skulls each time you kill a player they drop a skull on the ground. Anyone who runs over this skull will pick it up and add it to their collection. However, to get points for the skulls you are carrying you have to take them to a control point that is randomly appearing at different spots on the map.



This creates all kinds of awesome gameplay opportunities because if you have collected a lot of skulls you'll want to start avoiding conflict until the next control point appears so you can deposit them and get your points. It also makes anyone with a large number of skulls into a huge target for the other players because they are basically a point piñata for the first person who can kill them.

Fortune's can swing pretty quickly in this mode because someone can accumulate five, six, or seven skulls before hitting the control point and leapfrog any players who may be ranked above them. Teamplay also becomes more interesting because you can get into situations where you need to protect a teammate who is carrying a lot of skulls so that they can make it to the control point and score for your team.

Skulls is probably my favorite mode in The Hunted just because it creates so many interesting gameplay opportunities. I hope you'll check it out on when the game launches on Thursday and let me know what you think.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at the Hunted's game modes. If you have any questions or comments about the modes, or any modes you'd like us to add, you can let me know on Twitter ( @Readmore ) or you can join the discussion about The Hunted on the Touch Arcade forums here: TA Forums.

The Hunted
Meet The Hunted - Lurker
posted on: Monday, November 17, 2014

In our new game 'The Hunted' you will have the choice of nine unique characters to take into the arena. Each of these hunters have their own strengths and weaknesses and it will be up to you, the intrepid player, to determine which character best fits your play style. To help you make that determination we're going to highlight each hunter over the next couple weeks so you can get an idea about what character you want to start with.

If you missed our previous posts in this series you can catch up on them here:

  1. Human Hunter
  2. The Kid
  3. The Brute
  4. Ranger

The Lurker



Backstory

The Lurker belongs to an ocean-dwelling species that found itself being hunted and killed off by a land-based species on their home planet. Rather than retreat from this threat, their scientists developed war suits that would not only allow their warriors to breathe while out of the water but also allow them to burrow through the ground in much the same way that they swim in the water. The result of this amazing breakthrough was a quick turn in the war as their land locked enemy quickly had no place on their planet that they could hide.

Plucked from his native ocean to fight in the arena The Lurker is ready to take out his frustrations on anyone who crosses his path.

Playstyle

The Lurker is a 'medium' class character in The Hunted. This means that, like the Human Hunter, he has an average speed and average level of durability compared to the other hunters. While his base stats may sit in the middle of the pack he is definitely one of the most interesting characters to play. His main weapon can blanket the play field with fire, and his burrow ability opens up all kinds of interesting strategies that you can deploy on your enemies.

Trident Gun

The Lurker's main weapon is a Trident Gun that shoots out about a billion bullets a second. This very heavy rate of fire allows you to cover an area with shots that will give your target little chance to escape. While each of these shots does a small amount of damage their overall volume lets you keep your enemy on the run and move in for the kill.



Explosive Grenades

With grenades as a secondary weapon the Lurker is great at controlling an area of the map. He excels in control point game types as he can use his grenades to clear enemies off the point or to harass anyone trying to take his point away.

Landshark

The Lurker has the greatest, in my opinion, special ability in the history of competitive shooters. He can burrow into the ground and stalk his prey as a Landshark! Once burrowed you can tunnel under the ground and choose when you want to burst through the floor, biting anyone who may be above you.

With this ability you can approach a control point without taking damage from standard weapons, sneak up behind an un-suspecting target and chomp them from below, or retreat from a battle to grab a much needed health pack.



To counteract this awesome ability the Lurker moves very slowly while burrowed and he can still be damaged by explosions. This makes grenades, trap mines, and explosive darts shot on walls all something to worry about while you are burrowed.

As you can probably tell the Lurker is my favorite character, he has a great standard weapon and the ability to burrow really changes the landscape of a battle for everyone involved. I hope you'll give him a try this Thursday ( November 20th ) when the Hunted hits the Appstore.

If you have any questions about the Lurker, or the game in general, let me know on Twitter ( @Readmore ) or you can join the discussion about The Hunted on the Touch Arcade forums here: TA Forums.

Next Time: Stealth

The Hunted
Meet The Hunted - Ranger
posted on: Monday, November 17, 2014

In our new game 'The Hunted' you will have the choice of nine unique characters to take into the arena. Each of these hunters have their own strengths and weaknesses and it will be up to you, the intrepid player, to determine which character best fits your play style. To help you make that determination we're going to highlight each hunter over the next couple weeks so you can get an idea about what character you want to start with.

If you missed our previous posts in this series you can catch up on them here:

  1. Human Hunter
  2. The Kid
  3. The Brute

Backstory

The Ranger grew up on a planet that had once been very advanced technologically, but a combination of environmental and economic collapses plunged her species back into a strange sort of dark age. While technology still exists from their previous civilization there are very few remaining who can operate or maintain it, and almost none who could recreate any of it from scratch.

Within these circumstances the Ranger servers as a hunter and protector for her people. Using her laser bow she is quick, silent, and deadly to both prey and any foe who may threaten her village. However, when the aliens came to cull a new fighter for the arena she was quickly outmatched and abducted from her home.

Playstyle

The Ranger is a 'light' character in the game. This means that while she moves quickly, faster than any other Hunter in fact, she also is unable to absorb much damage. Because of this, her play style requires fast movement and shooting from a distance to give her time to dodge any shots that are coming her way. Her weapons are well suited to this and make her a formidable opponent.

Laser Bow

The Laser Bow is a silent and fast firing weapon that can deal considerable damage when multiple shots find their target. It requires great accuracy, as there is no spread to its firing pattern, but if used correctly you can line up two or three shots before your target even knows they are being hunted.



Explosive Dart

The Ranger's secondary weapon, the Explosive Dart, excels at dealing damage from a distance and keeping her out of harms way. The Explosive Dart is a small projectile that latches on to any target it strikes and quickly counts down to detonation. While this is another weapon that requires accuracy it causes great explosive damage to its target, and anyone around it, after a few seconds.

Many times the Ranger can stick someone with a dart, hit them with a couple arrows and be half way across the map before her target explodes and the kill is registered.

Boomerang

While the Ranger would prefer to engage her targets from across the screen that isn't always going to be the case. Her special ability, the Boomerang, is most useful for those times when the enemy has gotten the drop on you. The Boomerang flies out in an arc from the Ranger and then returns on her other side. It only deals a small amount of damager to any enemy it strikes but it also stuns them for a couple crucial seconds. As the Ranger you can use this time to deal a quick blow or escape and search for a health pack.



You can also grab power ups with the Boomerang! Nothing is sweeter than using your Boomerang to snag a Double Damage just before someone else picks it up!

The Ranger is a really interesting character and, I believe, will be a favorite for a lot of players. If you have any questions about the Ranger, or the game in general, let me know on Twitter ( @Readmore ) or you can join the discussion about The Hunted on the Touch Arcade forums here: TA Forums.

Release Update

I am very excited to say that we just received word from Apple that The Hunted has been approved and will be releasing for iPhone and iPad this Thursday!

We're also going to be doing some special for launch day. For the first 24 hours of release all of our characters will be unlocked! This means that, if you grab the game on launch day, you can try out every one of the characters we have been highlighting and see which one best suits your play style.

I can't wait to start playing against all of you in the arena! I hope you'll keep reading about our characters this week and that I'll see you in the game on Thursday.

Next Time: The Lurker

The Hunted
F5 Games is an independent game developer in Tulsa Oklahoma. We strive to create the very best in tablet and mobile games.