Google Stadia and Game Streaming

The big news in gaming (other than the Five Nights at Freddy’s teaser images) is Google’s announcement of Google Stadia. “What on Earth is this thing?” I thought. I began looking into it. Pretty soon I saw that just about everyone has something to say about it, which got me even more curious.

According to the Google Shop page, the Stadia will be a video game streaming service. The games will be on the cloud, so you’ll be able to play your games anywhere that has Internet connection and on any device. The page goes on to state that you’ll be able to shift from watching a video to playing a game.

There wasn’t much else on the page, but there was a place to enter your email address so you could be updated as news releases.

According to IGN’s article “Google Stadia Streaming Platform Launch, Game, And Feature Details Revealed,” Google plans to release the Stadia by the end of 2019–they just aren’t sure when. But sometime in the summer there will be more about pricing, what games will be available, and more.

Google plans to have the Stadia as a service without a console. They want it so anyone can use it with any device. The game controller, which you would need to buy, would connect to Google’s servers not to the device; this would allow the controller to work with any device. The developers did hint at that if you want to play the games on your TV you would need Google Chromecast–but at $35 it is still better than the $300 plus you’d spend on a console.

The controller would also allow you to capture and share gameplay and upload it to YouTube. Another Stadia feature is called “State Sharing.” This feature allows a player to create a shareable link of their progress. The player then can give out the link and other players will be transported to that spot and given all the equipment and levels the sharer had. I could see this as a cool giveaway option for YouTube gamers.

The main concerns of the gaming community that I came across is price, game selection, and lag. Players are worried that Stadia will come with a hefty membership price. Players are also concerned about Internet connection. When streaming a video, the stream is one-way–the movie comes to you and you watch it–but video games are two-way–you have the game coming to the player and the player responding. The data from the game has to travel to the player and the player’s input has to travel back. The players input also changes the course of the game and that data has to be sent back. It is a constant back and forth, which causes lag.

Hopefully as Google releases more information, some of these concerns will be addressed. The issue about lag has already been addressed somewhat in IGN’s video “Google Stadia ‘Won’t Reach Everybody Day 1’–IGN Now.” Basically, as the title says, Google knows that Stadia won’t reach everyone on launch day. Google can have the best servers in the universe, but it doesn’t matter much if the individual has a slow Internet.

Google has also repeatedly said that the Stadia will carry many AAA games like Assassin’s Creed (according to the IGN “Google Stadia Streaming Platform Launch” article), but there seems to be some concern about independent developers. The Game Theorists (under the GTLive channel) address this issue in their tea series live podcast “GTeaLive: Will Google Stadia be the Netflix of gaming?” The hosts mention how they strongly advised Google to somehow include indie games.

Personally, I would really like to be able to play a video game pretty much anywhere and not have to buy a few hundred dollars worth of equipment every time some slight new improvement comes along. But, I’m also worried about what it will do to businesses. We’ve already seen what happen to movie rental chains after Netflix started. How many more businesses will close and how many more people will lose their jobs?


Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Walmart eBooks, and more.

Status Update

Stories

Since it’s been awhile since I worked on my work in progress (or WIP), I’m going to have to redo some of it. I’m hoping to save most, but there is much that needs reworking. So, the Alone story has a bit of a delay.

Side Quests #5, Freaky Furry, will be out April 1. Available at many online retailers.

Side Quests #6, Sparks of Rebellion, will be out April 19. Available at many online retailers.

I have begun the rough draft process for Side Quests #7.

Videos

A few YouTube videos have been released, such as a new comic video and a Frozen 2 theory based on the trailer.

Another comic video will be released on March 27.

I am also working on a couple tips and tricks projects which might be a video or a blog post.

Finally, I am working on another “Read by the author” video–this time focusing on my Alliance story.

Blog

Along with the possible tips and tricks project, I am working on a post about the Google Stadia announcement. It should come out March 26.

Game

I’ve finished the main gameplay part of the next text adventure game. I am now working on the fine details, such as images and sound. Once this is done, I’ll work on testing the game.

Holy Disney Takeover, Batman!

I’d just finished watching the IGN video going over some of the new franchises owned by Disney now that they have bought part of Fox. Among listing things like Predator, Aliens, Die Hard, and Avatar (not the Airbender), they said Disney owns the rights to the 1960s Batman with Adam West. I thought, “Now if they could only somehow add Mickey into the show then we could connect the Disney Universe with the DC Universe as a shared universe which would also connect the Marvel Universe because DC has crossed-over with Marvel many times.” But, I then thought of a more feasible approach: Aliens.

Batman and even Superman have fought the alien xenomorphs, so it is possible to link the universes that way. All Disney would need to do is have a xenomorph invasion of some of their new properties. And who wouldn’t want to see John McClane battle a xenomorph or have one chest-burst out of Mickey Mouse. Disney wouldn’t even have to do that big of an invasion. They now own The Simpsons and they’ve had crossovers with X-Files, South Park, Family Guy, and even Rick and Morty–according to a video done by the Nerdist.

The Nerdist video goes on to talk about how many cartoons are all connected, even connecting BoJack Horseman to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which the TMNT also connects to Batman via the Batman/TMNT comics. The TMNT also connects to DC through the Injustice 2 game (which also connects it to Hellboy and Mortal Kombat). TMNT also connects to the Power Rangers; the Power Rangers also connects to DC via a JLA/Power Rangers comic. There have also been many Looney Tunes and DC stories as well. Looney Tunes can be connected to the show Tiny Toon Adventures which had appearances by many real-life actors and other Warner Brother properties.

Mortal Kombat also has a connection to Jason Voorhees from Mortal Kombat X, which also connects him to Jason Vs. Freddy, and thus to Freddy Kruger.

Speaking of a real-life connection, videos by The Game Theorists connected many video games to real-life through Mike Tyson and some through Tony Hawk. This got me thinking about further “real world” connections. I thought, “How could you show a connection between a show–or game–and the real world?” One way is the real-life celebrities. So this would connect Scooby-Doo to the real world because he’s met many real-life people, such as the WWE, but he also has connections to Archie and Batman (man, Batman gets around).

Another way to connect the real world is using the same technique that scientists use to find dark matter: look for what isn’t there. This one is a bit of stretch because it basically asks for some faith. I started thinking about the show Captain N, where a teen from the real world is transported into the Nintendo game world. I started thinking, “How would you know for sure this never happened?”

Look at Toy Story, it is supposed to take place in the real world. How do we know that toys don’t come to life when we aren’t around? So, in theory we could add any show or game that takes place in a real world where the general public is unaware of the events of the plot. For example, the Harry Potter series, the general public doesn’t know that magic exists. Who’s to say that there isn’t a Hogwarts? It’s kind of like the discussion about alien life; there’s no proof that they exist but there is no proof they don’t. So as long as Harry Potter doesn’t get on the six o’clock news and say, “I’m a wizard,” it could share a universe with us. For clarity, Cloverfield wouldn’t count because everyone knew about the monster attack; and as far as I know, a monster did not attack New York in our world.

Another way to connect the real world to other worlds is when the characters travel to parallel worlds and they call our world “Earth Prime,” “Keystone Earth,” or “Land Without Magic.” So this could add things like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

We could also potentially connect every LEGO game and movie because of The LEGO Movie. The movie connects the LEGO world to the real world when Emmett goes through the portal. The LEGO Dimensions game then connects The LEGO Movie to the other LEGO worlds. Since The LEGO Movie even mentions other toy sets and LEGO Dimensions also mentions other dimensions, we can add connections to all the LEGO toys, like Minecraft (at least the LEGO version). Also, Into the Spider-Verse and TMNT have also said, “every version of Spider-Man and the Turtles are part of a multiverse” LEGO TMNT and LEGO Spider-Man connect to the Marvel Universe and TMNT Universe. LEGO Michelangelo is in The LEGO Movie.

But all of that is just faith and theory…on to the facts and back to my main point. Another Game Theorists’ video connects the Kingdom Heart games to Doom which also connects to Fortnite and many other games, including ones discussed in their videos about a Ubisoft Universe and the Mike Tyson connection. So, the Disney Universe has many connections to video game universes as well as real-life.

The videos also connect Spider-Man to Star Wars and the Star Wars universe is all one universe. This would bring in any (non-fan made) Star Wars book, comic, and show. Spider-Man then connects us back to the DC Universe.

My main point is that if Disney connected their new properties (and it wouldn’t take much since many of the Fox shows they acquired were already connected through shows like The Simpsons) via xenomorphs, they would have connections through many show universes–thanks to Batman and Scooby-Doo–as well as many game universes. Almost every fictional universe could connect back to Disney. There would be one massive shared universe, including our own, with “one mouse to rule them all.” Disney would be the center of the fictional universe AND the real universe! BWA-HAHAHAHA!!!

Well, except for Five Nights At Freddy’s, like the Game Theorists, I couldn’t connect it either. Unless you want to count the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode “War and Pizza.” Donatello upgrades the pizzeria’s mascot, an animatronic bear (cough, cough), and it comes to life and attacks everyone. But…I doubt it because he used science and not the souls of murdered kids. Wait a minute…Donatello wears a purple bandana. Oh my gosh! Donatello is the Purple Guy!!! Hee, hee…LOL.

It’s not like the Turtles have a connection to anything else in the game, for example the infamous Bite of ’87. Wait, didn’t the original animated series came out in 1987?


Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Walmart eBooks, and more.

Who Are the Dragons in “How to Train Your Dragon”

Spoilers ahead!

After seeing How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a question began to gnaw at me: who were the dragons? Obviously, the flying and fire-breathing reptiles were the literal dragons, but I was focusing on the dragons in the title.

It would seem that again the dragons are the flying reptiles. Hiccup trained Toothless to not steal sheep. He also trained Toothless to fire on his command and to do aerial maneuvers. The creators of the movies also compare the dragons to pets many times, such as their loyal nature or following an alpha or how Hiccup plays fetch with Toothless.

But, it was the last-ish line of the third movie that got me questioning who where the real dragons. SPOILERS!!

Hiccup says something to the effect that the dragons will stay hidden until humanity can learn to accept the dragons.

It is the humans that hunt the dragons, kill the dragons, or use the dragons as weapons. Even Hiccup (spoilers again) says that he put what he wanted before what Toothless wanted. Hiccup’s mom states that when greed is involved humans will find a way. Finally, there are three warlords trying to take over the world!

The only time that the dragons are shown as aggressors is when they are in danger. In the first movie they did raid Berk, but it was only because of the large dragon ordering them to. Once the brute was defeated (or when dragons were separated from it–like Toothless), they became kind and loving. Granted, the dragons in the training arena where not kind, but I doubt you’d be gentle if you were caged and forced to fight dragon hunters in training all day; again showing that the dragons attack when provoked.

Finally, it makes sense that the people of Berk would be the ones to start befriending the dragons. They fought the dragons not for their hides or for their power but out of defense. The dragons would invade Berk causing the Berkians to fight back. Once they learned why the dragons kept attacking their village, they learned to accept the dragons.

So, it could be that the dragon in need of training is the monstrous nature within mankind.


Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Walmart eBooks, and more.

The first interactive story game based on my book series can be found here.

Are They Human | Kingdom Hearts III

May contain spoilers for Kingdom Hearts III.

What confused me most about Kingdom Hearts III was not the lore (though that is pretty confusing at first) or the fact that it starts out by saying Kingdom Hearts II.9, but how they kept talking about needing to keep “the order” of the worlds they visited.

When Sora, Donald, and Goofy visit places like the Toy Story world and the Monsters Inc. world, they change to fit into the world, such as turning into toys, but in places where the main people are humans, like in the Tangled or Frozen worlds, they look the same. Sora remains a human; Donald remains a giant talking duck that wears clothes; and Goofy remains a talking dog.

I don’t know about you but if I saw a talking duck and dog, I’d be a little bit concerned. Why aren’t Donald and Goofy transforming into human characters when they visit a “human” world?

This actually brings up a funny side note. When the first trailer for the first Kingdom Hearts game came out (so very long ago), for a long time I thought the plot was that Mickey had somehow been turned into a human. It wasn’t long before I discovered that person was Sora. But come on, don’t tell me you wouldn’t think the same after seeing Sora in his original red pants, oversized yellow-ish shoes, white gloves, and white and black shirt; he looked very similar to a certain iconic mouse. Plus, he was always hanging around Goofy and Donald.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.

No one seems too bothered by a talking dog and duck. I found it kind of funny and odd that Donald and Goofy had to be turned into monsters for Monsters Inc. I could understand why a human like Sora would need to but Donald and Goofy are “not human” already. Or are they?

Maybe for some unknown reason, even though they don’t look human, they are considered to be human. Since it is Donald that changes the group, maybe he doesn’t think to change them on human worlds because he sees Goofy and himself as human. Maybe to the people of the game, they are just another race of humans, much like there are Hispanic and Asian people. Kind of blows your mind, don’t it.

It would certainly explain why Goofy can talk and walk on two legs but Pluto cannot; Goofy is a dog looking human while Pluto is just a dog. But then how can Chip and Dale talk? Why aren’t they human size? They wear clothes too. Was Chip and Dale given some kind of intelligence serum? Are they the next step in animal evolution? Or are they human but just short? People come in all shapes and sizes mind you. More questions for another day, I suppose.

The other possibility is that people in realms like Tangled, Hercules, and Frozen are just used to strange creatures walking around. I mean, Rapunzel has healing hair, Hercules is a demi-god with super-strength, and Elsa is an ice queen. Seeing anthropomorphic animals might be a normal Tuesday for them. (Or they could just think they’re Furries.)

Or…it could be that the game developers knew that no one would want a video game that promises teaming up with Donald and Goofy only to make them look human every few levels. But I wonder what a human Goofy and Donald would look like.

Hmm…personally, I kind like the idea of Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the others being considered some kind of unknown (to us) human race. It just goes to show you it isn’t what’s on the outside that matters…Also, it could totally mean that there is some kind of anthropomorphic race of humans living on Earth. Hey, a guy can dream.

Kingdom Hearts III is available on Playstation 4 and Xbox One and published by Square Enix.


Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Walmart eBooks, and more.

The first interactive story game based on my book series can be found here.

First Game | News

After months of hard work (and a couple days of hitting my head against a wall), I finally completed the first interactive story-game based on my book series. This one is a simple and short one; but then again, so am I.

The game is the first in a series of exams to see if you qualify to be a superhero.

I’m already starting on another, hopefully a longer and more complex story-game, but it’ll be more towards story than “exam.”

You can find the game, and any future games, here.

Wattpad Launches a Publishing Division

Don’t forget to share and follow.

Thanks to fellow Wattpader MaryFahey and an article by the New York Times, I heard about Wattpad, who let’s authors publish written stories much in the way YouTube allows people to publish videos, launching a book publishing division. At first I thought, “AWESOME!!” but then I kept reading.

According to the article, Wattpad will use a “Story DNA Learning Machine technology” to scan the Wattpad website/app stories for “themes or elements that might determine a story’s commercial success.” Once the algorithm selects a story, it’ll then be handed over to an editor for further consideration.

I can see why Wattpad would want to use this technology. They already have millions upon millions of stories. Could you image the chaos if they said, “Submit here for publication consideration”? I’d feel sorry for whomever got stuck with that job. It’s why so many stories get rejected in the first place; there are so many submissions that a person just can’t deal with all of them. So, I think the idea of having a machine help out is a good idea, but my problem is the article makes it sound like that is all Wattpad is doing.

I checked out the site for Wattpad Books, the name of the publishing division. It tells authors how to be considered for Wattpad Books: just keep writing. There is no submission form.

I am hoping that as the program grows they’ll open up other ways for authors to feel like they have a chance, other than just getting noticed by a machine. I hope they do something like a pitch day or have the Wattpad Ambassadors keep an eye out for potential stories. It would be nice if there was a recommendation day; once a month (or every three months, etc) people can recommend stories they think should be considered. There needs to be someway that the authors feel like they have some control over the process, that it isn’t all left to the whims of an algorithm.

You talk to anyone who does YouTube, and they’ll tell you the mess with the YouTube algorithm and how much stress it causes. One example is how animators had to switch over to animated vlogs in order to meet the requirements of the algorithm.

If Wattpad Books only goes by the data, how is this going to change the stories? Someone is going to figure out “the secret” and tell everyone. What if it is discovered that stories with the word “windows” has a better chance of being published? Will suddenly all the Wattpad stories be filled with the word “window” in awkward places in order to “fool” the machine? People already…”tweak” their stories in order to catch the eye of traditional publishers, so you know they’ll do it to get noticed by the machine.

What is the step after people start altering their work in order to be noticed? Will we have a controversy like with MatPat (it happened on his GTLive YouTube channel)? He got grief because his video tags were “Undertale” and “Toby Fox” instead of ones for the Heartbound game he was showcasing. He knew that Undertale tags would be picked by the algorithm better than Heartbound. (He also got grief for saying the developer’s name wrong and not linking to the game, but that’s another matter).

What I’m trying to say is that there needs to be a balance between the machine and mankind. Yes, have the machine do most of the legwork, but also have a place for authors (on occasion) be able to submit their pitch and like a thousand words. Also, have pitch days and times when the community can voice their opinion directly. Finally, have the Ambassadors kind of be “the man on the ground,” keeping an eye out for stories that they can report back as possibilities. People need to feel like they have a voice in the matter (even if it is completely ignored); they need to feel like they can do more than pray and keep writing, hoping that one day the machine will like them. Finally, if Wattpad Books is planning to do this anyway, let people know–just a simple, “some time in the future we will…” works wonders.

I’m hoping that Wattpad Books will learn from the mistakes of others, like YouTube and even traditional publishing. I think if they can figure out a way to include the community and the authors into the publishing, they’ll have more success.


Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Walmart eBooks, and more.

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