Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: GeForce Now Troubles, Bones & Books

Bloody hell, it’s a Weekend Whammy that is actually being published on a weekend! Will the wonders of this world never cease!? So, for this weekend I’m going to ramble and rant about the GeForce Now controversy, some fun books, whether E3 might get cancelled, why I have a box of bones and whatever else might pop into my delightfully demented mind. Let’s do this.

Now that March has coming marching along like some sort of marching band that’s…uh, marching, we’re finally getting some games to look forward to it! Doom Eternal is looming on the horizon with heavy metal music playing in the background, and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum there’s a new Animal Crossing that is aiming to melt people with cuteness. I’e never touched an Animal Crossing game in my life, so my excitement lies with Doom Eternal. The Doom reboot of 2016 was nothing short of outstanding, but of course that means there’s also a lot of pressure on a sequel to be just as good. Demonic talons crossed, yeah?

For the moment, though, it’s still pretty quiet. I did review Bloodroots, mind you, a hack and slash that’s a lot of fun, albeit also occasionally annoying. You can go read that review by clicking………….HERE!

An offer for review code for a game called School or Dead appeared in my inbox which I accepted, largely just for something to cover. It’s launching on PS4 but is already out on PC where it has plenty of positive reviews, which I find bafflingly. It’s not all bad, but I’m definitely struggling to find much good about the game. The combat is clumsy, the visuals are a weird mixture of things that look like they belong in different games and…oh hey, massive anime boobs. Alright, School or Dead, we’re cool. For now.

At this point my Switch Lite is basically just a way to play Yu-Gi-Oh! Indeed, it’s a much cheaper way of playing the game. By the luxurious beard of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor I dread to even contemplate how much money I spent buying cards when I was a kid. £200 for a Switch Lite and £30 for the game is a steal by comparison. To my joy the game is getting a major update soon that will bring in even more cards and campaign duels, all for free.

Streaming games is a cool idea that has proven difficult to actually do, but Nvidia’s GeForce Now, though, has been downright impressive, offering the ability to stream your existing games to phones, tablets or to a computer using one of their own high-spec computers as the host. At its most basic level you can use GeForce Now for free to stream any of your games to a compatible device, the only limit being that you get exactly 1 hour of playtime. After that you have to jump back in the queue, which could mean almost instantly being back into the game or having to wait a while. Or for about £6 a month you can skip the waiting and get priority, plus the ability to enable RTX on select games. People seem quite impressed with the service, saying that even on mediocre Internet connections they were getting a solid experience with the benefit of getting to run their games from a high-end computer.

The service has become controversial however, thanks to a lot of companies asking Nvidia to remove their games. Activision-Blizzard and Bethesda have both had their games removed from the service, for example. Many people have become frustrated and blamed the developers and publishers for being greedy, since GeForce Now doesn’t require you to buy the game specifically for the platform, unlike something like Google’s Stadia where you pay a subscription fee and then have to buy any games that you wish to stream even if you already own them.

It’s not quite as simple as that, though. With Activision-Blizzard it was a case of a licensing dispute once GeForce Now’s paid subscription was launched. Then there’s the tricky issues of licensing to deal with. For us consumers it seems easy: it’s my game, so what does it matter if I choose to install it on a different machine and run it from there? From the perspective of the law, though, it’s not that simple. Essentially when you purchase a game from Steam or any other store you get a licence to play it, and part of that licence includes a stipulation that the game can’t be redistributed. And that’s what Nvidia is doing: they rent you a machine, and then redistribute a piece of software that specifically says it can’t be. It’s for this exact reason that gaming cafés and such need to sign up for something like Valve’s PC Café Program so that they can acquire the necessary licences to let people run their games from the premises.

Then there’s other potential headaches for developers, like how can they develop a mobile version of their game if you can already stream the PC version straight to your phone or tablet?

Ultimately while I can understand that there’s probably a whole bunch of legal crap that I can’t begin to fathom and piles of unforeseen issues, headaches and frustrations for developers and publishers alike, I still fall on the side of the consumer: I bought the damn game, so why can’t I install it on the system I want to? After all, I’m perfectly allowed to go to my friends house, log in to Steam and install my games there. Not to mention Steam has its own in-home streaming. At the end of the day, to play a game through GeForce Now you need to actually own the game, and thus you have already supported the publisher and the developers financially and are now simply accessing the content. I don’t really see an issue here unless companies choose to make it an issue, which they are. Exactly why is hard to determine as they’ve remained quiet and vague about their games being removed from GeForce now. That just makes me feel sorry for anyone with a low-level machine who went out and bought games they couldn’t normally play because they could use GeForce Now instead.

I hope that Nvidia and the other companies can work this out, because in its current for GeForce now is a nice, consumer-friendly concept, and if properly supported and utilized could benefit the whole industry. I’d love to see developers put their games on Steam with a bit of blurb saying that if you buy their game you can access it on the go via GeForce Now as well. Or maybe I’m being a naive idealist.

If you want to read more about this I’d recommend The Verge’s awesome article on the GeForce Now debacle.

As Coronavirus continues to be a giant dick-muffin more events are getting cancelled, including GDC, which also puts the fate of E3 into question. But like I said in my last Weekend Whammy, I think it’s smart to postpone or outright cancel things like this for the moment to help halt the spread of the virus. Selfishly I’d love to see GDC and E3 continue because they are fun to watch, but all the announcements, conferences and other stuff can be done digitally and it’ll still be entertaining without the extra risk. Here in the UK cases of the virus continue to increase, so it looks quite likely that it’s going to have keep going. Bit crappy, but there we are. Thankfully provided we’re all smart and do our bit the damage can be kept small. Personally I’m considering buying myself a giant plastic human-sized hamster ball and just rolling around town in it. In other words over the coming weeks I’ll have to seriously consider going into isolation to avoid picking the virus up and doing that pesky death thing. The good news is I’m an introverted twat anyway and there’s a massive list of movies I’ve been meaning to catch up on, and a backlog of games to play. No hardship then.

Over the weekend I took my two nieces a walk along a lovely beach front spanning two separate towns. The eagle-eyed older niece spotted something wedged into the side of an embankment, probably about 2ft into the mixture of mud, sand and stones that looked a lot like a large tooth. So she and her little sister started excavating, occasionally helped by my dog, and what we ended up with is this box ‘o bones. At the moment we’re thinking they are from seals. My nieces want to take them to a vet to see if they could identify them. It’s that, or we dug up a few humans, which would certainly be more exciting. I’ve always wanted to be involved in a murder case without just being the suspect. *cough*

In terms of books I finished reading Gideon the Ninth, a book with a review blurb which reads, “lesbian necromancers in space” Now that’s how you sell a book. As the name implies its about Gideon the Ninth, a lowly grunt of the Ninth house who has a hell of a temper, plenty of attitude and cannot be arsed. She finds herself escorting “her” necromancer to a special meeting to decide the new Lichter to the Emperor. There’s an interesting mixture of stuff going on in the book, such as a good bit of murder mystery, a few awesome action sequences involving swords, skeletons and swearing, a bit of mild romance and plenty of creative sci-fi weirdness.

With that said, I did find it a tough read at times because author Tamsyn Muir writing style didn’t quite click with me. I found myself re-reading sentences because for some reason my brain just garbled it. There’s also a few awkward uses of terms that seem out of place in the book, like at one at point someone says, “legit” and I did a double take. The language style isn’t done in ye-olde English or anything like that, but the word feels out of place and only appears once. There were a few examples of words like that popping up once that felt strange, and quite a few whole sentences that used odd grammar choices. It felt like I had written a few of them, and that’s not a compliment, as you all well know.

Still, while the style of prose didn’t click with me, it was certainly a fun read with intriguing characters, cool concepts and some awesome moments. I’m looking forward to reading through it again, especially since it does have a large roster of characters running around the place and I was struggling to keep them all straight in my head. There’s going to be a sequel, so nearer the time of its release I’ll have a good reason to go back and enjoy Gideon the Ninth all over again.

I’m also about half-way through An Orc on the Wild Side, a fantasy-comedy that plays with classic tropes from Lord of the Rings and pretty much any other major fantasy book or series. It features such characters as an invisible Wraith who would quite like to be a super-model and a Goblin king who still wants to be Evil, but just a little bit smarter about it.

The writing by Tom Holt is sharp and smart, and filled with killer humour that has got me smiling from page to page. Holt doesn’t make the mistake many parody style stories do by just making fun of everything. As much as he pokes at the tropes and prods at the eccentricities of the genre it’s also clear that he has a love and a passion for fantasy and is still trying to tell a compelling story. I’m only half-way through the book, though, and there’s a fair bit to bring together, so hopefully Holt can gather up the characters and plot threads and weave them into a satisfying finale.

Right, that should do it for this week. I’ll catch you guys later.

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