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Power Button - Episode 266: E3 2018 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs we do each E3 we have brought in our special E3 correspondent Ross Polly live from the loading dock of the Los Angeles Convention Center for an exclusive discussion about the happenings and events of the week that was in big gaming news and press conferences.  Join us for a super-sized two hour episode of the Power Button podcast in which we run down the highs and lows of the Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square-Enix, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences and digital showcases for conversation about games such as Anthem, Halo Infinite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Fallout 76, Just Cause 4, The Last of Us Part II, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plus so much more.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 265: E3 2018 Predictions: The New Batch

Power ButtonE3 2018 is a week away and we're gearing up to enjoy all of the new announcements and reveals.  This week on Power Button we're looking ahead to what we think the publishers and developers at the big show may announce and throw in a little bit of personal wishlisting while we're at it.  Join us for an hour of discussion.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 264: Sealing The Pact With Batman: The Enemy Within

Power ButtonWe're fans of both Batman and Telltale Games here on Power Button, so it's natural that when the publisher debuted the second season of its Dark Knight adventures, we had to discuss it.  We have a supersized conversation about Batman: The Enemy Within for you this week and it's packed with spoilers, so settle in with your favorite dark corner and enjoy.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


A Brief History Of The PS4 Share Button

DualShock 4One of the most significant additions to the DualShock 4 controller compared to its predecessors is the Share button which allows players to quickly and easily share screenshots and video clips of PlayStation 4 games with social media.  Over at Polygon, the people who created the Share button reminisce about the creative process of making the Share button a reality and discuss some of the challenges they faced.  For instance, some developers were mortified by the idea of players sharing snippets of their games with the world at large.

As Sony began to fully embrace the Share button as one of the “killer features” of the PS4, many game developers began to express concerns about the potential for spoilers, the details of their immaculately-drawn worlds and stories spilling out across social media in an unruly mess of trolling and outrage. Aoki recalls one long meeting with first-party Sony developers that resulted in a compromise — in order to prevent their precious ships from leaking, developers got the authority to block sections of the game from broadcast, up to and including the entirety of the campaign.

“It was one of our main concerns,” he says. “On a system level, it’s really hard for us to understand what the game wants to do, so what we ended up doing was giving game developers the power to select what to block, when to block, or whether to block at all. When we would say we wanted to share everything, some developers would reply with: ‘We don’t want to share! ‘We don’t want to share!’” Aoki recalls, laughing. “[...] At the beginning, some teams were really nervous. They’d block the whole recording until you finish the game, and you could only do it on the second playthrough,” he says. “Of course, that got some negative feedback from the player side. I think the game team now realizes the potential and meaning of having a lot of players sharing the cool content out, and how that represents a positive for the game.”

It's fun to be in the middle of a game like Assassin's Creed Origins or Uncharted 4 and  quickly dash off a fun or exciting moment to show friends and followers.  While some developers resist the idea, it's just not possible to keep restricted footage off of social media.  Even if the Share button is blocked, external capture boxes have been around for years and certainly don't respect a game's internal restrictions.  It's frustrating when that little box pops up proclaiming that recording is prohibited.  I recall wanting to show off a piece of the Marvel vs Capcom Infinite demo last year and discovering that the entire demo was blocked from recording, sharing and streaming.  This was a free demo meant to whip up excitement among the fans and Capcom went and blocked those same fans from being able to directly share memorable moments.  Sometimes I just don't understand corporate decisions.

 


Power Button - Episode 263: Mega Man 101

Power ButtonBack in Episode 255 we discovered that Blake Grundman doesn't know the ins and outs of the canonical Mega Man storyline and how the classic series ties into the Mega Man X series and beyond.  Obviously, this could not stand, so we invited David Oxford of The Mega Man Network and author of The Robot Master Field Guide to join us and lead Blake step by step through the series and explain the plot points that tie the whole thing together.  How is Dr. Wily related to Zero?  What happened to Dr. Cossack?  Who is the mysterious Mr. X?  All will be revealed in this week's episode.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


I'm Not Ready For PlayStation 5

InterocitorEarlier this month the Internet lit up in a flurry of excitement regarding a report that Sony was close to launching the PlayStation 5 earlier than most people expected with development kits (as if that term implies a single, fixed form for that type of hardware) for the new console supposedly already in the hands of noted studios preparing for a launch this year or next.  Kotaku's Jason Schreier put those rumors to rest and tried to calm the community down, but the clamor is real.

Most of the developers I spoke to, via phone and email and text, said they had not heard anything about plans for a new PlayStation. Even employees at Sony’s first-party studios said they have not yet been briefed on the existence of a PlayStation 5. People across all the disciplines (design, art, engineering, etc.) at major studios working on games scheduled for 2019 and beyond have told me that if there is information about the PS5 at their companies, they haven’t heard about it. (Those people said they haven’t heard about a new Xbox, either.)

I really don't understand the rush to move on to the PS5 and even the next generation of Xbox when the current consoles are just now finally showing us what they truly have to offer.  Highly anticipated games like God of War and the upcoming Spider-Man are showcasing development studios who are firmly in the groove and showing off their increasing mastery of developing for the PS4.  Why would players want to move on to the PS5 and have to wait several years for studios to fully understand new hardware?  Why would players be so eager to have to invest in a new console ecosystem already when many are still upgrading to the PS4 Pro or buying their first PS4?  Eat what's on your plate before ordering your next meal!  I'm perfectly happy to wait until 2020 or 2021 for the next generation of PlayStation.  My PS4 is meeting all of my PlayStation needs and I'm in no hurry to move it down a spot on the shelf just to make room for the PS5 and start all over again.


Add Some Retro Gaming Books To Your e-Shelf

21 Unexpected Games To Love For The Atari VCS and P.T.: A Video Game Ghost StoryThere are so many great games coming out lately and so many more games that you missed out on go on sale each week, so of course what you need now is some books to read.  You still have a few days to check out the Retro Wonder Game Bundle over at StoryBundle where you can pick up eleven books spanning the world of the Atari VCS to the Famicom Disk System all the way up to the withdrawn P.T. demo from just a few years ago.  It's a great deal. Here's the overall description:

Some of the biggest highlights for this bundle include exclusive ebooks on Hideo Kojima's 'lost classic' horror title P.T., on the Doom franchise's amazing start and triumphant 2016 return, and on unlikely gems for the Atari 2600/VCS (including, yes, E.T the Extra Terrestrial!)

We also have a truly wonderful book on the history of the Xbox, a complete look at the rare Famicom Disk System and its games, and a trilogy of Douglas Adams-style novellas about a retro computer/game collector, as well as rare games revealed from the Unseen64 crew and a look at the historical heroines that come in game protagonist form.

I was given early access to two of the books in the bundle, 21 Unexpected Games to Love on the Atari VCS by John Harris and P.T. - A Video Game Ghost Story by Joel Couture.  Both are great reading.  The Atari volume focuses on old classics that many modern gamers would deride as ancient trash that, nonetheless, hold up in various ways and are a worthwhile opportunity to look back in time at how some of today's modern genres took their first steps out of the primordial gaming ooze.  On the other end of the spectrum, P.T. chronicles Konami's withdrawn demo for the canceled Silent Hills project and examines what makes it so scary and why the publisher pulled the plug on it.  Make time for both of these and the other books in the bundle.  After all, you can't play video games all of the time, so you need to be ready to read about them, too.


Power Button - Episode 261: Catching Up

Power ButtonAfter two months of illness and injuries, Power Button is back on track!  This week Blake Grundman and I spend an hour catching up on some of the noteworthy gaming events that we missed during our time away including our new iPhones, dipping to Batman: The Enemy Within, exploring Kirby Star Allies, and much more.  Join us as we gear up the podcasting machine after hiatus.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 260: Failure To Relaunch (Part 2)

Power ButtonWe are finally back in the podcasting saddle after two months off due to illness and injury.  More on that in a later episode though because this installment is one of our recordings from the can in which we take up the second half of our discussion about failed video game reboots and relaunches.  Catch up on the first half in Episode 256 and then join us for an hour of kicking around failed titles such as Bomberman: Act Zero, Conker: Live and Reloaded, Splatterhouse, Turok, a fun story about Sonic the Hedgehog at E3, and much more. Also, Blake received something special in the mail recently.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


A Short History Of Ratchet And Clank

Ratchet And ClankSometimes I wish that Insomniac Games and Sony would reteam for new Ratchet And Clank sequels more often than they currently do, but then I remind myself that part of the reason the series is still innovative and entertaining is that the developers don't drain the creative lake by overfishing it.  At GDC 2018, some of Insomniac's current and former key people including writer T.J. Fixman recounted the history of everyone's favorite Lombax and robot duo in which they detailed the creative process behind so many important elements of the series.  From weapon design to cheeky subtitles to stacking crates, there's a lot of work that goes into this futuristic world.  GamesRadar has the story.

The Ratchet and Clank series spans 14 games, with some unusual highs and lows. “After about six years, we’d seen a number of changes to the development team, and a lot of the new designers didn’t really know how to design a stack of crates”, said director Brian Allgeier. This led chief creative officer Brian Hastings to draft a four-page document on the art of stacking crates. Unusual as it sounds, smashing up crates to release a shower of collectible bolts is one of the game’s small joys that benefits from a set of design rules. For example, they created guidelines for the shape of the stack, the number of the crates, when to include exploding boxes (to encourage use of your wrench as a projectile)… each little detail contributing to the game’s feel.

They're on to something about the crates.  One of the little joys of the Ratchet games, particularly near the end of the story when multipliers are active, is to toss the wrench at a large stack of crates, see them smashed to bits, and watch as what feels like thousands upon thousands of bolts come flying at Ratchet and somehow land in his pocket as spending money.  It's such a little thing, but the series wouldn't be the same without it.  Knowing that, I'm not surprised that there are pages of guidelines on how to stack crates properly for maximum enjoyment and fulfillment.  With all the care that goes into Insomniac products, why should the crates be any different?