BaltimoreGamer http://baltimoregamer.com Anything and Everything About Video Games in Baltimore Wed, 27 Jul 2016 21:39:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Deliverance: The post apocalyptic pizza delivery game http://baltimoregamer.com/features/deliverance-post-apocalyptic-pizza-delivery-game/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/deliverance-post-apocalyptic-pizza-delivery-game/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 21:36:40 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1001 In a post-apocalyptic world where every store’s shelves have been raided and every farm has been destroyed, what is there to eat? Pizza, of course! At least that’s what’s for dinner in Deliverance, the latest mobile title from Ellicott City-based developer and UMBC graduate Paul Tschirgi. Following the release of his first major title, Tschirgi shares with BaltimoreGamer his biggest inspirations as an animator, his experience with working on the game, as well as what the future holds for him as an artist and developer.

The post Deliverance: The post apocalyptic pizza delivery game appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
deliv1

[padding type="small_left_right"] In a post-apocalyptic world where every store’s shelves have been raided and every farm has been destroyed, what is there to eat? Pizza, of course! At least that’s what’s for dinner in Deliverance, the latest mobile title from Ellicott City-based developer and UMBC graduate Paul Tschirgi. Following the release of his first major title, Tschirgi shares with BaltimoreGamer his biggest inspirations as an animator, his experience with working on the game, as well as what the future holds for him as an artist and developer. DL: What was your biggest inspiration in becoming an animator? Did you always have a specific interest in video gaming? PT: I always loved movies, especially ones with twists and in-depth characters and story. As I grew up and played more games I realized that the really big games made by huge studios were the ultimate media/entertainment medium. A combination of cutscenes and storyline and characters that you actually get to know in an episodic way through missions and levels where you interact with other characters. paul_tschirgiWhen I was in high school I made short films in 3d animation and focused on special fx in live action movies. By the time I got to college I realized that in a movie you have about 2 hours to tell the story you want to tell, but in games you can make the story personalized to the player and explore characters and twists for 10 hours or even more at levels of depth that you could never get to in a movie. Combine that with working with beautiful soundtrack compositions that play themes throughout and the most important element: what the player does from jumping and fighting to persuasive dialog options and puzzle solving. 3D animation quickly became my favorite way to make characters and tell stories. I wasn't limited by anything in the virtual world and I could make much more fantastic things by myself on a computer than with a bunch of friends, a green screen, and a camera. DL: Having finished school at UMBC, and staying local to the Baltimore area thereafter, does the area in general or work by local dev companies like Big Huge Games or Mohawk Games, both based in Baltimore County, influence your work in any way? PT: Big Huge, Mohawk, and Pure Bang and a few other smaller local game developers influenced how I decided to pursue my goals in a big way. I saw the rise and fall of Zynga with Farmville and many other In App Purchases. It was really great luck to be able to go to local meetups of the studios and hear their insight on what kind of game they most want to make, which games they can build with what kind of team, and what kind of game the players want. They all cared so much about making something they could be proud of that brought fun or happiness to someone else. That core goal has stuck with me and I really try to find out what makes the games I make fun for other people. With any luck I share a lot of the same tastes in fun and stories as the people who buy my game and the process for making it fun is also making it fun for myself. [/padding] deliv2[padding type="small_left_right"] DL: On a big game like Deliverance, how is the work divided amongst your team? You are an animator and artist by trade- do you also have input on other aspects of your games such as storyline? PT: I started Deliverance right after a programmer friend of mine landed a professional job at EA and I decided that I needed to learn coding for myself. I had been teaching myself 3D animation for about 8 years by that point and was confident I could make all the 3d models, textures, and animations I would need for the game. Thanks to the Game Developer's Club at UMBC I had the perfect learning environment for picking up programming in Unity, the game engine I was using. The great joy and difficulty of the project is that I was in charge of everything. I wrote and re-wrote the story for the game about 4 times and I even scrapped whole animated sequences from the game when I felt like it dragged on too long and didn't put the player in the action soon enough. On my best days working on the project I would wake up write a daily journal about the Greece level I had finished making and how I had to paint it and then test driving around in it. On my worst days trying to boost my motivation to work on a project that took 3 years to complete, I would try to bribe myself with fast food or breaks if I could finish just one more monument for a level. The first two years my organization was great, filling a whole 2 journals with notes about the project, how to make it fun and still tell a story I liked. The last year was haphazard. I became desperate to finish the game and move on. I had finished working on all the "fun" parts of the game like characters, weapons, and levels. I now had to make the game save and load properly, add more controls such as touch screen. I worked on a mini-game to make pizzas that was fraught with glitches and crashing. I used up all my savings to contract voice overs and music, which I absolutely love and never regretted, but I ran out of money all when working on the game became a chore. I had to figure out how to setup the game on the app store and google play store and fit all the required settings. It felt amazing to get to choose at every crossroads, but it gives me a great appreciation for projects where other people are involved and I don't have to. [/padding] deliv3 [padding type="small_left_right"] DL: Having played Deliverance, it is a great mobile game that has the feel of something bigger, like a PC game. As a developer, do you plan to focus on creating and releasing mobile games, or are there plans to develop something for PC or even a console application? PT: I have always loved PC and console games. For their intense and sometimes complex controls/gameplay as well as their occasionally groundbreaking stories and cinematic experiences. I have one big console/PC game project that I started my freshman year of college that is too large in scope for me to complete on my own like Deliverance was made. My goal is to generate enough interest in Deliverance to be able to hire on a few people to pursue that game. In the meantime I want to write a novel based on the game's story and find some way of financing this dream as a completed game in the future. I sell my 3d models online and also make youtube tutorials and videos, but so far I can barely pay my own bills. Forget paying other people on the side for now. You can learn more about Deliverance and several other of Tschirgi’s projects here. [/padding]

The post Deliverance: The post apocalyptic pizza delivery game appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/deliverance-post-apocalyptic-pizza-delivery-game/feed/ 0
Pokemon Go breaking records and changing how we play games on mobile http://baltimoregamer.com/features/pokemon-go-breaking-records-changing-play-games-mobile/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/pokemon-go-breaking-records-changing-play-games-mobile/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:09:44 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=991 People have been flocking to shops, museums, and churches to discover Pokemon and Pokestops. The app has become far more than a game, and more like a social and cultural movement. I personally have found myself interacting with people more frequently through the game than I would otherwise, and others have expressed the same to me.

The post Pokemon Go breaking records and changing how we play games on mobile appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
IMG_3569

[padding type="small_left_right"] Pokemon Go is now in full swing! If the non-stop posting on social media about the game wasn’t enough to show its popularity, the game also broke the record for most downloads in the first week of its release, according to The Verge. People have been flocking to shops, museums, and churches to discover Pokemon and Pokestops. The app has become far more than a game, and more like a social and cultural movement. I personally have found myself interacting with people more frequently through the game than I would otherwise, and others have expressed the same to me. One article in Forbes discussed how the game is “bringing people together” and described it as a “phenomenon.” The game has truly transformed the world into a massive Pokemon region. Trainers of all different shapes and sizes are catching and comparing Pokemon all over the world. And perhaps what is most fascinating is that there seems to be little competition, at least on a trainer-to-trainer level. While some social media posts have jokingly insulted the intelligence of members of opposing teams, ultimately people seem more interested in the shared experience of capturing Pokemon. From the highest leveled trainers, including one individual who has already caught them all, to the people who pick up the game casually, the game has acted as more of a social media platform than a contest. [/padding] [caption id="attachment_994" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]pokemon-go Image Credit: TheVerge.com[/caption] [padding type="small_left_right"] But the competition is still real, it just appears more passionate than mean-spirited. And the well-meaning competitive nature may grow, according to some updates reported in an article published by N4BB. The article states that Niantic has already released plans for major updates to the game, not just for fixing bugs. Added updates include trading, which will help players who don’t get to travel as far fill their Pokedex; customization of gyms and Pokestops, though it is unclear what that fully entails; and a leader board truly capturing who is the very best that no one ever was. Along with these added updates are an additional 569 Pokemon who have not appeared in the game or even been hinted at yet, and that is not including the legendaries who have not yet been spotted. Though the game is still only in its infancy, it appears its popularity will continue to move upward as Niantic and the Pokemon Company find new ways to bring people together.
  1. http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/22/12258874/pokemon-go-apple-ios-app-store-record-most-downloads
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/07/11/pokemon-go-is-more-than-just-a-game-its-a-phenomenon-thats-bringing-people-together/#77b14eea4743
[/padding]

The post Pokemon Go breaking records and changing how we play games on mobile appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/pokemon-go-breaking-records-changing-play-games-mobile/feed/ 0
Are video game stores ready to be forgotten? http://baltimoregamer.com/features/video-game-stores-ready-forgotten/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/video-game-stores-ready-forgotten/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 21:07:36 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=979 Within the past 10 years, entertainment enthusiasts have witnessed the demise of several of their favorite brick-and-mortar establishments, from Blockbuster and Radioshack to Circuit City and EB Games. With the recent onset and increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, as well as expansion in online retail, demand for physical copies of films and albums has fallen victim to digital convenience.

The post Are video game stores ready to be forgotten? appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
game_stop

[padding type="small_left_right"] Within the past 10 years, entertainment enthusiasts have witnessed the demise of several of their favorite brick-and-mortar establishments, from Blockbuster and Radioshack to Circuit City and EB Games. With the recent onset and increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, as well as expansion in online retail, demand for physical copies of films and albums has fallen victim to digital convenience. As the allure of streaming and digital access continues to attract incredible amounts of customers, are gaming stores doomed to follow the path of the endangered video, music and electronic stores? Unfortunately, all signs seem to point to yes as services like Playstation Now gain traction in the market of online gaming. Owning a physical copy of a game for your console or PC is a large part of the gaming experience for many enthusiasts; it provides a satisfaction that is unmatched. The game is a trophy of sorts, especially for those who wait in line for hours for the game that they’ve been waiting for all year. And as a gamer’s collection builds, their shelves become a display of their achievements. [caption id="attachment_880" align="alignright" width="457"]Microsoft device family BaltimoreGamer Presents: Windows 10 UWP, Xbox One, HoloLens and More![/caption] However, the availability of console-specific marketplaces such as the Playstation Store, Xbox Marketplace and the Steam Store have made it easier for gamers to build a digital library by downloading their games, allowing almost instant access from the comfort of their own homes, rather than making the trip to their local GameStop or BestBuy to wait in line, or to get there only to discover that their game of choice is sold out. And with services such as Playstation Now, gamers can choose from hundreds of games to rent for as little as $7.99 a week, available to stream instantly without download, further decreasing the amount of effort required on the consumer’s behalf to play a game, and even further reducing the appeal of physical game stores. The seemingly unstoppable rise of digital game downloads has prompted gaming stores to venture into online endeavors, as seen in GameStop’s introduction of their Store Pickup option, which allows gamers to shop online for consoles, games and accessories and pick them up in-store, eliminating issues such as lines and limited availability. The company has also increased the availability of special edition games exclusive to the store that include posters, figurines, apparel and multiplayer perks, enticing those who would otherwise wait to purchase a game online to buy a physical copy. GameStop’s annual financial report ending in fiscal year 2015 reported a 146% sales growth in 2014 with the help of their Store Pickup feature, however, the company still struggles with sales lost to online marketplaces. Most of their revenue comes from the purchase of used games; many gamers have experienced the disappointment that comes with selling a game to the store for $15, only to see it resold for $40. As with any other business, this is done to create a profit-only this profit is essential for the company to stay afloat. History tends to repeat itself, and if the recent shuttering of beloved video and entertainment stores is any indication of what is to come, it won’t be long until digital downloads and streaming take over the gaming market, causing currently endangered video game retailers to become extinct in the near future. http://www.geekoutpost.com/are-video-game-stores-disappearing/ http://news.gamestop.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=130125&p=irol-reportsannual http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/11/are-brick-and-mortar-video-game-stores-endangered/265485/ [/padding]  

The post Are video game stores ready to be forgotten? appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/video-game-stores-ready-forgotten/feed/ 0
Why eSports start-ups are great for investors http://baltimoregamer.com/features/esports-start-ups-great-investors/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/esports-start-ups-great-investors/#respond Sat, 09 Jul 2016 23:23:33 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=921 Though the industry is still expanding, eSports have been around for several years. Some investors have already jumped on board, but it seems that the possibilities for growth are limitless. Judging by how the League of Legends championship sold out the Staples Center in 2013, and how LoL and similar tournaments receive millions of viewers online, it is safe to say that this huge market still has opportunities for investment.

The post Why eSports start-ups are great for investors appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
esports

[padding type="small_left_right"] Though the industry is still expanding, eSports have been around for several years. Some investors have already jumped on board, but it seems that the possibilities for growth are limitless. Judging by how the League of Legends championship sold out the Staples Center in 2013, and how LoL and similar tournaments receive millions of viewers online, it is safe to say that this huge market still has opportunities for investment. What is most impressive about investment opportunities is that eSports are still in their infancy. While already boasting fan numbers in the hundred millions, eSports viewership is expected and projected to continue to grow, reaching nearly 150 million viewers before the end of the decade. While major companies like Coke, Nissan, and Red Bull have already joined as sponsors, the possibilities for investments are endless. In addition, Amazon purchased Twitch, an online community for gamers. The number of fans, the number of opportunities, and the number of gamers seem to be ever-growing. And the market may be more diverse than some expect. According to ESPN, 44 percent of eSport athletes are parents, 38 percent are women, and 28 percent are over the age of 35. This does mean that the majority of eSport athletes are males younger than the age of 35; however, the opportunity for diversity, and expansion of said diversity, is still present. The biggest concern for investors is profit. eSports gaining fans is a good sign, but perhaps more so are the players’ earnings. In ESPN’s report, the winner of the DOTA2 Champions won $5 million in 2014. The only champions earning more were from the Super Bowl, who are players already on million dollar salaries, and the World Series of Poker. In addition, of the top eight sport championship earners, four of them were from eSports. If nothing else, eSports provide an enormously public platform. Because games are easily viewable online, the numbers grow much faster than other sports. In addition, one article from CNBC pointed out that the only thing eSports needs to do to grow is continue to play new games. While professional sports leagues institute rule changes or bring up new expansion teams to make the game seem newer, eSports simply need to play released games from an already profitable industry. The article also pointed out that the Internet has brought together an industry of gamers, who have been connected since gaming became a trend. Imagine the possibilities for people who live their whole lives with both video games and the internet. What’s perhaps the best thing about eSports is that it truly requires a skillset. While people may find themselves beating their friends at video games, when one looks at the eSports world they can see how talented each professional gamer is. If nothing else, eSports is certainly an entertaining outlet for its audience. References
  1. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-esports-startups-you-should-know-alex-fletcher
  2. http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/13059210/esports-massive-industry-growing
  3. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/esports-startups-are-good-game-for-investors-commentary.html
  [/padding]

The post Why eSports start-ups are great for investors appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/esports-start-ups-great-investors/feed/ 0
Gamers should not want to be called athletes http://baltimoregamer.com/features/gamers-not-want-called-athletes/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/gamers-not-want-called-athletes/#respond Fri, 08 Jul 2016 03:43:19 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=911 Speed. Agility. Hand-eye coordination. These are all attributes commonly associated with traditional athletes, and now eSport Players. There are more similarities now than ever before between the two groups, but there is no reason these competitors should ever want to be called “jocks.”

The post Gamers should not want to be called athletes appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
Jacked_Up_Player

[padding type="small_left_right"] Speed. Agility. Hand-eye coordination. These are all attributes commonly associated with traditional athletes, and now eSport Players. There are more similarities now than ever before between the two groups, but there is no reason these competitors should ever want to be called “jocks.” What sort of expectations come from being an eSport participant? In the infancy stage of video games there were negative stereotyping words such as “nerd,” “dork,” and “loser.” As the products and markets have grown and developed, so too have the perceptions of those who choose to live that lifestyle. Gone are the days where people who enjoy video games as a hobby are seen as socially-inept. Now there are different levels, from the casual hobbyist all the way up to the hardcore enthusiasts. So who are these eSport players? Truthfully, it could be anyone. It doesn’t take a certain race, age, or gender. It is very hard to stereotype gamers based on appearances because the lifestyle and the industry are about mentality more than ever. Video games have become more intricate and complex throughout the years and so have the people playing them. The true identity of video game enthusiasts is being a person who enjoys the creation and exploration of a virtual story. Most modern day players aren’t known for jumping in line for the next edition of Call of Duty; though, I’m sure plenty do. Instead they’re more likely the ones who are chomping at the bit to pick up a game such as Bloodborne, one known for individual enjoyment and challenges. They don’t usually get over-hyped for the next edition of Fifa or Call of Duty. Most would find more joy in finding a PlayStation 2 and running through the original Kingdom Hearts again. While the gaming world and its people have evolved, the world of athletics has generally stayed the same. What sets gaming enthusiasts apart is their desire to create within the world they play. People who love video games are no longer players, but thinkers, developers, testers, and artists. They no longer just enjoy games as a hobby, but as jobs.These people can study and learn how to turn their interests into six or seven figure careers. eSport players are athletes, but they are not jocks. There is no doubt that true skill and natural talent is involved in virtual competition. If there wasn’t then average Joes could pick up the sticks, enter a Super Smash Bros tournament, and live to tell the tale. eSport players typically have the brains to make them more than a gamer. They not only play the games they love at the highest level, but they can create their own just as well. Games like Risk of Rain, Shovel Knight and even Broforce are generated by people of all types, including eSport players. While eSport players are athletes, they should be regarded with more respect than average athletes, due to the intellectual level required to compete, as well as create. [/padding]  

The post Gamers should not want to be called athletes appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/gamers-not-want-called-athletes/feed/ 0
Building virtual reality games and getting young girls into coding http://baltimoregamer.com/features/building-virtual-reality-games-key-getting-young-girls-coding/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/building-virtual-reality-games-key-getting-young-girls-coding/#respond Fri, 08 Jul 2016 03:41:24 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=918 There’s no denying that virtual reality is a growing industry. A step into the future, if you will. However, this step into the new age of entertainment, gaming, and scientific study still hits roadblocks that are plagued with a current issue today. Lack of female presence in the programming industry.

The post Building virtual reality games and getting young girls into coding appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
Oculus_game_hartford.edu

[padding type="small_left_right"] There’s no denying that virtual reality is a growing industry. A step into the future, if you will. However, this step into the new age of entertainment, gaming, and scientific study still hits roadblocks that are plagued with a current issue today. Lack of female presence in the programming industry. As job opportunities continue to grow, women are continuing to leave the industry or not entering it at all. According to Code.org, by the year 2020, there will be 1 million more jobs than there are students studying computer sciences and programming. This will be an industry with an even higher demand than today with a healthy earning potential. Looking at all of this information, what is keeping women out of the workforce or stopping young girls from pursuing the industry altogether? A Harvard Business Review Study in 2008 showed that 50% of women quit the industry due to hostile work environments and feeling isolated from potentially sharing the space with other female employees. The study was updated in 2014, and found the same information to still be true. There is a need for an equal playing field and careers that offer equal opportunities for advancement. This is a major issue for women already established in the industry, yet there are similar issues for young girl students. In actuality, many girls want to learn how to code, but they end up not staying in programs or classes that teach coding. Much like how women feel isolated in a professional environment, girls face the same issue when enrolled in classes, where they may end up being the only, or one of the few, girls in class. Studies have shown that 74% of middle school girls expressed interest in STEM, yet only 3% of high school girls expressed interest and only 13% of Bachelor’s Degrees granted to female students were in STEM fields in 2014. To combat poor statistics of girls pursuing classes in coding, a wealth of programs are surfacing to fight the potential job deficit and gender gap in the industry. Initiatives such as Code.org, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code and others have stepped into the forefront to deliver education in a safe environment. One approach coincides with the growth of virtual reality. The Director of the Center for Women in Computing at the University of Maryland Jandelyn Plane believes the approach of showing young girls there is more to coding than just the code. The idea is that through coding virtual reality students get to see how codes are applied in a fun and visual way. Teaching in a traditional lab setting is still introduced, but the concept is to exhibit the visual side in tandem with the analytical. Plane founded the Computer Science Connect program. The program commits middle and high school students to three years of two week intensive camps over the summer. Though it is open to any gender, encouraging girls to participate in the program is the main focus. The course of the program takes students through languages such as Scratch and Lego Mindstorms and leads them to Python and Unity 3D, where they will be able to create games that can be used with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Through the course of University of Maryland offering safe environment programming classes, where students could learn Java or move up to advanced classes for game design, they found that many of the female students expressed interest in creating their own games. Plane believes the narrative structure of games really appeals to girls because they have the opportunity to build characters that reflect themselves. Creating and focusing on approaches that encourage girls to participate is the main focus of all of these programs, while offering them safe environments. In the near future, it is intended a positive and beneficial change will occur in the industry and education, where gender equality is no longer concept, but a reality. [/padding]

The post Building virtual reality games and getting young girls into coding appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/building-virtual-reality-games-key-getting-young-girls-coding/feed/ 0
Why the creators of The Wire and Grand Theft Auto should collaborate http://baltimoregamer.com/features/wire-turns-virtual-run-omar-comin/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/wire-turns-virtual-run-omar-comin/#respond Fri, 08 Jul 2016 03:32:28 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=887 What better in the aftermath of the 2015 riots than to create a game that makes social commentary on the true living conditions in Baltimore? The world doesn’t know it needs it yet, but it is time to create a video game where Grand Theft Auto meets “The Wire”.

The post Why the creators of The Wire and Grand Theft Auto should collaborate appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
The_Wire_Bajo_escucha_Serie_de_TV-411277634-large

[padding type="small_left_right"] Now more than ever people associate Baltimore with the popular HBO series “The Wire.” What better in the aftermath of the 2015 riots than to create a game that makes social commentary on the true living conditions in Baltimore? The world doesn’t know it needs it yet, but it is time to create a video game where Grand Theft Auto meets “The Wire”. Millions of gamers have made some sort of connection to the Grand Theft Auto series since the game’s initial release in 1997. Whether it’s the classic San Andreas or the modern GTA V, most people have either played, known someone who owns it, or overheard talk about the game. It’s fun, it’s expansive, and it’s real. That doesn’t mean it’s realistic - most people do not drive like maniacs and successfully evade police.  It’s real because it is meant to appear like a modern day game in a more tangible, grounded setting, unlike popular fantasy titles like Skyrim. After the success of GTA: San Andreas, Rockstar Games is at the perfect point to go away from imaginary cities and dive into true reality. For those who don’t know, “The Wire” is based on a true story. David Simon, the creator of the series, based a majority of key characters on real people he had either known or written about during his tenure at the The Baltimore Sun. The storyline is so entrenched in real stories that the transition to the virtual world would be flawless. Grand Theft Auto V uses several characters with intertwining story arcs that all mesh into one. “The Wire” does the exact same thing; the only difference being the use of a police perspective in conjunction with a criminal one. However, the switch in viewpoints is what makes the show so compelling. Giving the public a form of duality with different sides of the same story is just what the game franchise needs. If a videogame version of “The Wire” did come to fruition, there would be a lot of interest in playing the Omar Little character. He’s ruthless, conniving, and honorable all wrapped into one package. Also, people love the idea of being the vigilante who plays by their own set of rules. That’s what makes Batman such a popular comic book character. Not to mention there are several other roles the American public would enjoy playing. There’s the up-and-coming drug dealer DeAngelo Barksdale, his Kingpin Uncle Avon Barksdale, the alcoholic good cop turned corrupt Jimmy McNulty, and more. These alone can make a near perfect game, but there’s more for everyone. Since “The Wire” is based on a true story, it could be used as social commentary onthe reality of living in Baltimore. The main problem with “The Wire” is that you cannot watch it unless you pay for HBO, a premium channel. With a video game version, the audience only has to pay once and they get immediate exposure. The game could recreate real towns in Baltimore and display what really happens there. The drug deals, the shootouts, as well as police shortcomings stemming from inadequate funding. Think of how challenging getting through a level in the game playing as a cop with just a semi-automatic Glock while the criminals have Mac 10s. Most other games give you the ability to obtain equal or greater levels of firepower that give the player an advantage. In a videogame version of “The Wire,” players would be stuck using what each character would have in real life. Omar has his shotgun, the dealers have to be able to get rid of their guns after every kill, and the police aren’t funded with what they really need. A game like this forces people to work with real life realities and challenges. A game like this forces its audience to see just how rough the bad side of Baltimore can really be. References: http://www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com/s/10-real-people-that-inspired-characters-on-the-wire.html   [/padding]

The post Why the creators of The Wire and Grand Theft Auto should collaborate appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/wire-turns-virtual-run-omar-comin/feed/ 0
Artificial intelligence: corruption, independence, and censorship http://baltimoregamer.com/features/artificial-intelligence-corruption-independence-censorship/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/artificial-intelligence-corruption-independence-censorship/#respond Fri, 24 Jun 2016 13:57:27 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=885 Over the past few years we’ve seen a rise in robots that look like humans, robots that learn like humans, and robots that move like a four legged beast.

The post Artificial intelligence: corruption, independence, and censorship appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
n-ROBOT-960x540

[padding type="small_left_right"] Over the past few years we’ve seen a rise in robots that look like humans, robots that learn like humans, and robots that move like a four legged beast. Most recently, we’ve seen Artificial Intelligence (AI) completely corrupted by human intelligence in less than 24 hours. Unnerving? Maybe it should be, or maybe we have a bright future ahead of us. However, the question becomes that if an artificial being can learn without consciousness, should we be worried? Let’s take a look at modern technological advancements where the line between intelligent design and designed intelligence have begun to blur. Last year, Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics unveiled Spot, a robo-canine that can walk and climb like our favorite four legged companions. Spot is equipped with a sensor on it’s head so that when sustaining a blow, it can reorient itself into a proper standing or walking position. Much like how we catch ourselves when we slip or trip and navigate ourselves through varied terrain, Spot has no trouble accomplishing these tasks without help. There are videos where Spot can be kicked while treading ice and never fall. Speaking of walking on a slick surface, it’s impossible to mention Spot without talking about its humanoid counterpart Atlas, who was revealed by Boston Dynamics earlier this year. Atlas is a bipedal robot with arms that can lift and carry objects. Atlas shares many similarities with its sibling Spot; hydraulically actuated, electrically powered, and equipped with sensors to avoid obstacles, analyze terrain, and remain upright. The fact that these two robots can maneuver and handle changes in terrain without physical human assistance shows us how far technology has advanced and how quickly it changes. As time progresses, advancements in technology become sleeker, lighter, and smaller. In the next decade we could see robots designed with a more human appearance and speaking capabilities that remind us of movies like “Star Wars” and “I, Robot.” However, speaking and assessing do not guarantee decency and humanity. Can they walk among us without a human conscious? Like a lot of people, I’m not a scientist. I’m just a woman who is curious about these things as this present sets the stage for our future. There are some aspects that raise a lot of questions in people’s minds in regards to AI. Will it be corrupted? Who could corrupt it? Will my life have enough value to it for it not to harm me? Will it see humanity’s illogical corruption and decide when and how we are in need of redesign? With recent events in regards to Microsoft’s Twitter AITay, it is easy to see how quickly humans could corrupt an innocent program. It’s natural to wonder if Artificial Intelligence would be easy to corrupt without a conscious to tell it what’s right and wrong. That being said, Tay did exactly what she was designed to do, which was pick up and emulate speech patterns. She responded exactly how she was taught - it was undoubtedly brilliant. Microsoft responded quickly and shut down the Twitter account to stop further damage. Now, Microsoft has released a new AI program titled CaptionBot. CaptionBot titles pictures based on what it analyzes within the image. However, this AI came with a new filter. It can’t recognize Hitler’s likeness. With Tay’s corruption leading her to become a racist Nazi sympathizer, Microsoft believed it’s best option was to censor CaptionBot. However, censorship is not consciousness, it will simply be ignorant as opposed to being able to decipher appropriate and inappropriate information. Without this buffer, can human beings only teach goodness, kindness, and logical thought? Right and wrong is only based on perception at the end of the day. Let’s turn to Mark Sagar, known not only for his visual effects work in “Avatar,” “Spider-Man 2,” and “King Kong,” but his creation known as Baby X. Mark Sagar is the director for the Laboratory of Animate Technologies in Auckland Bioengineering Institute where he developed Baby X, a program that is, well, a baby that learns to recognize objects and words. She interacts and learns much like a real child and replicates toddler behavior, such as short attention spans. Baby X is fully capable of learning and consistently builds her vocabulary. By using computational neuroscience models of neural systems, Sagar was capable of creating natural and human reactions and expressions. Expressions are an important aspect of our learning processes and in comprehending interactions. It helps us to know who is angry, sad, aggressive, and gentle. Using direct human interaction, Sagar is teaching Baby X words and expressions. Will teaching AI from stages designed to emulate childlike innocence create a conscious understanding; instead of designing it to emulate already developed beings who can be kind, apathetic, or a just plain trolls? What about robots without consciousness, purely designed to execute tasks without second thought? According to NPR, 82 countries came to meet in Geneva to discuss the building of robots for warfare. The conclusion? The key U.N. body that decides the norms for weapons of war should consider killer robots. Scary, right? This brings people to question the moral integrity of creating a robot that will kill a human being that has no empathy for human life. Now, there is some good to robots taking the forefront in high pressure circumstances. For instance, having no adrenaline. Robots cannot feel fear, emotional connection, or anger, for now. Ron Arkin, a leading roboticist from Georgia Tech says, "They can potentially have better sensors to cut through the fog of war. They can be designed without emotion — such as anger, fear, frustration — which causes human beings, unfortunately, to err." They will be precise and efficient. How and when should we use them? The goal is to make them so precise it would be deemed inhuman not to use them, only focusing directly on the targets without the mistake of losing innocent human life. The robots are supposed to be under some type of human control that can decipher appropriate uses of force. However, what if it loses contact with its human handler, what should it be capable of making some type of decision then? Lockheed Martin is developing a missile that will scour the waters for a target and hit that mark, designated or not, when it loses contact with its human minders. Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic called for a ban on autonomous killer robots, which would be deemed the “Third revolution of warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear weapons,” says Bonnie Docherty, teacher at Harvard Law School. Docherty is the lead author of the report calling for the ban on lethal robots. The question is not could robots react in high pressure situations, but should they have the power to with no empathy for human life? If any of the readers would like to check into this, the next meeting regarding the development of lethal robots and international law will be in December of 2016. Since the meeting in early April, 14 countries have called for a total ban. The entire concept of Artificial Intelligence gives us a grey area on morality and whether we can trust robots to save our lives or turn against us. So far, we have seen that the greatest corruption isn’t from robots developing self awareness and struggling with their creation, but humans themselves actively deciding to corrupt the programs purest intentions. Advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence are undoubtedly amazing. What we can do in terms of our societal progression, health and safety, and defenses can be limitless. A world without human error and irrational reactions that have led us to many wars is a world a to look forward to. However, early access to all mankind and its different perceptions and, at times, naturally destructive ways can obstruct robots in the same way we corrupt kind people. With that being said, let’s hope Artificial Intelligence never accesses the Deep Web as a learning tool. [/padding]

The post Artificial intelligence: corruption, independence, and censorship appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/artificial-intelligence-corruption-independence-censorship/feed/ 0
How heavy are video game inventories? http://baltimoregamer.com/features/heavy-video-game-inventories/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/heavy-video-game-inventories/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 19:45:32 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=901 You know that feeling when you get home after a long day, set down your backpack, briefcase, or suitcase, and feel that literal weight lifted off of your shoulders? Do you ever wonder what that may feel like for a video game character with a large inventory?

The post How heavy are video game inventories? appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
Grand_Theft_Auto

[padding type="small_left_right"] You know that feeling when you get home after a long day, set down your backpack, briefcase, or suitcase, and feel that literal weight lifted off of your shoulders? Do you ever wonder what that may feel like for a video game character with a large inventory? First, let’s take a look at how much these characters carry, before addressing if video games should change, or continue with their current inventories. Pokémon Trainer - Pokémon Red/Blue The Pokémon games have now upgraded to the point where backpacks are bottomless, and trainers are able to store every possible item that they come across in the game. But those who played the very first generation of games, and those who bought the recent rereleases on the Nintendo 3Ds, remember that the bag was extremely limited to start. In the first generation the games started, “with only 20 different kinds (of items) ever allowed to be held on-hand at one time,” as Bulbapedia points out. Granted, a trainer could have up to 99 of each item 20 times over, making the bag significantly more full, but not leaving as much room for diversity as there is now. Assuming that one item in the Pokémon world weighs around a light three ounces, this means the weight of the items in the bag is roughly 371 pounds. That seems like quite a lot on a ten-year-old. At least shorts are comfy and easy to wear. Any Playable Character - GTA V Players in GTA find themselves needing lots of weaponry in order to complete heists, missions, and escape to lower their wanted levels. Weapons include, but are not limited to, pistols, machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, melee weapons, and rocket launchers. A character in GTA carries up to 50 weapons on a weapon wheel with eight slots. Adding up the weight of the different weapons has a lot of variables, including ammunition, amount of gas carried in the jerry can, and if the player has a parachute. All in all, it’s safe to assume a GTA character holds several hundred pounds. Steve - Minecraft The playable characters in Minecraft seem to be ordinary in their bulkiness, despite how blocky they are. Yet they seem to need to carry an excessive amount of weight in order to build. In the Minecraft inventory there are 27 storage slots, each capable of carrying up to 64 copies of the same item. So just how much is that? Well according to one blogger, each block is one cubic meter, meaning that “1 block of gold weighs 42,509.53 pounds.” This means that if Steve were to be carrying an inventory completely full of gold, he’d be hoisting around 33,319 metric tons. Quite the haul.  Batman - Batman: Arkham Knight To be fair, he is Batman. Over the course of the acclaimed series, Batman has up to 26 items, according to the Arkham Wiki. If they each weigh around four pounds, the dark knight is carrying about 104 pounds while doing all that gliding and crime-fighting. Yes, the caped crusader carries less weight than the 10 year old from Pallet Town. A heavy inventory seems a staple of most video games today. Unlimited inventory seems like it may be the future, as one blogger says, “The only real solution is to make the size of the inventory unlimited.” Either way, inventory limits definitely alter the difficulty and play style of each game. [/padding]

The post How heavy are video game inventories? appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/heavy-video-game-inventories/feed/ 0
Fostering change in gaming starts at home http://baltimoregamer.com/features/fostering-change-gaming-starts-home/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/fostering-change-gaming-starts-home/#respond Sat, 28 May 2016 19:19:31 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=912 There is something missing in the gaming community. For some reason there is this bravado among some self-described “hardcore,” male gamers that make them hang a proverbial “no girls allowed” sign. For some reason, there is a subset of male gamers that just don’t want to hear or see any girl picking up the sticks for some fun.

The post Fostering change in gaming starts at home appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
Two_girls_gaming

[padding type="small_left_right"] There is something missing in the gaming community. For some reason there is this bravado among some self-described “hardcore,” male gamers that make them hang a proverbial “no girls allowed” sign. For some reason, there is a subset of male gamers that just don’t want to hear or see any girl picking up the sticks for some fun. News flash: female gamers are awesome! It’s better for them to learn how to play too. For many of those who love video games they become more than just a hobby; they become a sanctuary. A place to escape reality and let their imagination run wild; somewhere where the frustrations of the day fade away and their actions are devoid of any real life consequences. In other cases it’s just a source of pure enjoyment and fun. Something a person can do with other people or by themselves with the same level of interest. Whatever the reason, people who like playing games have had their minds shaped and nurtured in the same place: home. Every family is different and unique, which of course leads to different scenarios as children become adults. Nobody can really predict how parents will raise their children, but there have been some consistent themes over the course of history. The men take care of the family by making money or doing whatever they need to in order to put food on the table, while women take care of the home and make sure everything with the family is in order. In some places, considered more traditional these roles are kept as the standard. In others, usually labeled as more progressive, the roles tend to mesh together more frequently. Whatever the makeup of a family is, the attitudes towards who’s playing video games shouldn’t change. If one member is playing and someone else wants a turn the conversation should really sound like this: “Can I have a turn playing?” “Sure, let me just find a save point real quick.” It doesn’t matter who is already playing and who is asking. Boy or girl, video games weren’t meant to for a particular gender. They were meant for pure and simple enjoyment. From MMORPGS to first person shooters, games were meant for fun. Unfortunately, some people still don’t buy into the fact that games are not just for males. This is not a change that will occur automatically. The gaming community should move to be more inclusive for people of all kinds. In order to do so, it needs to start with each individual family. The parents have to teach their kids to forget about worrying over who is trying to play and instead educate them on just the enjoyment. It’s a lot better than doing chores anyway. Does the sibling or friend asking to play just want a chance to do the same thing you are doing? If yes, then nothing else matters. Not age. Not gender. Not skill level. Just a love of games. For more, check out this article in the mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/experts-believe-girls-should-gamers-6954918 [/padding]

The post Fostering change in gaming starts at home appeared first on BaltimoreGamer.

]]>
http://baltimoregamer.com/features/fostering-change-gaming-starts-home/feed/ 0