vgu

More Sights from Video Gamers United

In this video from day 2 of the Video Gamers United held at the Washington Convention Center, we talked to the creators of Modded Apps with a peripheral for the iPad, voice actor Richard Epcar and his wife Ellyn Stern, the creators of Alum and the founders of VGU Con.

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Big Planet Comics presents: The Planetary Pull for Aug. 27, 21014

(We want to apologize but apparently the camera cut us off but we got all that we needed)

Welcome to the Planetary Pull at Big Planet Comics in College Park, MD

In this episode for the week of August 27, 2014, Aitch Billy or is it H and B or Harry and William…well, they are back this week.

The books he reviews this week are

Superman #34

Seconds (graphics)

Tomb Raider #7

Wayward #1

Injustice #10

In the weeks ahead

Baltimore Comic Con:   Sept. 5 – 7 – http://baltimorecomiccon.com/

Small Press Expo: Sept. 13 – 14 – http://www.spxpo.com/

Catch Aitch and co. on http://www.popcultureuncovered.com

Follow Aitch on twitter @PCUncovered

And of course check out Big Planet Comics at: http://www.bigplanetcomics.com/

Follow on twitter: @BigPlanetComics

tni

The Next Issue 148 – A Podcast to Die For

 

Click here to listen
In this week’s show, Aitch Armand, Jon Wolk and special guest Ray Willis discuss the following

Dragon*con – August 29 – Sept1
Baltimore Comic Con Sep 5 – 7
Diablo III review
Madden 15 nex gen 1st impressions
Sin City – A Dame to Die for

In our Comic Reviews

Steampunk BSG 1880 #1 (of 4)
Multiversity 1
Genius #3

Pull List for Aug. 27th, 2014

Injustice year 2 #10,
Justice League #33
Black Science #8
Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night #3

Catch us at
Popcultureuncovered.com
Twitter – @PCUncovered
Follow – Femmes in the Fridge
Listen to us via:
iTunes, Stitcher, and our App on Windows Phone

Peter_Capaldi_cost_2803858b

Dr. Who – “Deep Breath” another look

by Tony Ortega

 

So the day has arrived and we have now seen Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the 12th doctor (are we really counting John Hurt) on Doctor Who. Now, before I go any further, I must admit that I am a diehard Matt Smith Whovian. That man got me through some very tough times. I will miss 11 dearly. However, as I have with past regenerations, I withheld judgment about the new doctor until his first episode: I remain open and receptive to regenerations.

So Deep Breath basically opens up with a dinosaur up chucking the TARDIS in Victorian England. Enter the best trio of characters since Rose, Mickey and Jackie – Strax, Jenny and Vastra to investigate this latest TARDIS sighting. They are my favorite non companion companions. No matter what Doctor they are paired with, this trio steals the show and they are a welcome edition to this season premier. However, the best part is not necessarily their roles in this episode but the interplay between the trio, the Doctor and Clara. The extremely witty dialogue between Vastra and Clara was priceless and seeing Jenny root for Clara and not her own wife was worth the price of admission. Add to this, Strax’s medical and psychological examination of Clara almost made me forget how much I will miss Matt Smith.

My favorite part of the season opener was Clara’s storyline. There have been many companions that have witnessed the Doctor regenerating throughout the years. However, never has the emotional impact that the regeneration has on the companion been dealt with, or at least to this level. I was moved by Jenna Coleman’s portrayal of angst and confusion, which likely mirrored my own every time the Doctor has regenerated. I loved, loved, loved how not only how expressive she was about her feelings, but also the almost last minute twist of how she was able to resolve her mixed emotions (thanks to a very surprise guest star – “Damn you Moffat.”). Some might say that she has seen at least two other versions of the doctor. However, this experience was a very intellectual one. Actually witnessing a regeneration and losing someone you loved is quite traumatic. This part of the storyline bridged the gap between intellectually understanding a regeneration and emotionally experiencing it.

 

Now, let’s talk about Capaldi. He has some pretty big bowties to fill as far as I’m concerned. However, his first episode reminded me of the Colin Baker era when the Doctor became arrogant, self-righteous and sanctimonious. This extreme shift of personality was not successful back then and certainly won’t work now. Capaldi’s post-regeneration haze reminded me of this shift in personality. I only hope that this does not continue and will phase out in episode 2. No, drum roll please, Capaldi is an amazing actor and I think, if written well, will be just as powerful of a doctor as the others. I particularly liked the one liners in which he referenced past iterations of himself. I am giving him a chance folks. Please don’t tell Matt.

 

The ending of Deep Breath sets the stage for what appears to be two major storylines – who is this mysterious female and what role will she play in the Doctor’s life and how will Capaldi’s Doctor rectify his past transgressions – “Am I a good man?” All in all, I think Season 8 is off to a great start and as long as they don’t make Capaldi’s Doctor too dark, we have another winner.

sports

Building the better next-gen sports game

by Harry Cee

It’s that time of year for another Madden release and also signalling the start of a new gaming season. It’s that time of year that many people on tomorrow may just call into work after lining up at midnight to get the latest release to play. This will be the first year that I actually get a Madden release since maybe 2009 or 2010 simply to see what the next gen version can do.

I did check it out over the weekend and a few things came to mind as I played and wondered how much longer people will keep buying yearly iterations of games that can only be pushed so far technologically speaking. And it’s just not Madden, but sports games as a whole that should probably change their model rather than just continually pour our yearly increments of nothing new.

Here are a few ideas that they could consider:

Roll out new games every 3 to 5 years

This is a complaint that many people make when it comes to sports games. Every year, there is little innovation or newness except the roster. Let’s be honest, if games are being built on the same engine, there is no reason that gamers should pay 60 bucks for a glorified roster update. IN speaking to a friend of mine over the weekend, he came out with a great idea. Rather than continuously reinvent the wheel every year, make the game once and then do it like Battlefield is done: Make a separate disk yearly for all of the extra little graphical additions or commentary that is needed to keep the game updated and fresh. In other words, treat it like premium DLC. I can’t say that I am a programmer but if Madden is pretty much built on the same engine yearly then charging people possibly ½ for roster and stat updates and graphical bumps would probably go a long er ay to keeping people in the game. We are moving to a point where most games are digital anyway so why bother to keep re-creating sports games from the ground up yearly? Some sports games barely do a little more that switch the menus around and still charge you full price to play and one of the biggest offenders in my opinion is EA’s FIFA World Cup series. The World Cup is a tournament that only comes around every 4 years and rather than EA make it a DLC which would have attached fine with the FIFA series, they made a separate game and then charged full price for a small part of the game. Konami on the other hand, charges a very small fee for the World Cup DLC or if you know where to look you can add mods that gives you not only the World Cup but other soccer tournaments for free. It should make one ask themselves why does EA nickel and dime for increments and worse, why do consumers keep paying full price? The World Cup 2014 game came out in June was on the exact same engine as FIFA 14 and there is no reason in the world why it couldn’t be included. When the Euro 2012 was played, a 25 dollar DLC was released for FIFA 12 which included 53 teams and 8 stadiums. So again, why pay full price for something that is a part of the game? If we aren’t careful, game makers will charge to play the playoff and then the Super Bowl, NBA Finals or World Series.

The new consoles are now at a point where at least in the short run they are competitive with PC rigs because now we are installing games to hard drives, and we require internet connections to get some advanced features and multiplayer online so it couldn’t hurt game companies to roll out DLCs for your NBA 2Ks and your Maddens since we are at the peak of how graphically they will look. So unless there is a shift in how a game is controlled or some other innovation to how sports games are played (coff KINECT failed !!) then we as consumers should see that there is little value in continually purchasing sports games yearly.
Rolling saves over a’la Mass Effect

One of the best parts of the Mass Effect series was the idea that your save games affected each game that you played (just more proof that sports games run on the same engines) so regardless of how much Mass Effect changed from the first iteration to the newest, you were guaranteed that you were able to jump right into your story without having to start a new narrative. So, why can’t the same be done with a sports game? If you are playing a dynasty and you get about 10 years in (which I really wonder who has time to play that long), then once the newest iteration of that sports game comes out, you either will make the choice of getting the new game and starting all over from scratch or sticking with the old one. So then the question is, along with rolling out graphical and roster tweaks a’la DLC, how about allowing me to carry my seasons over? If I made a player and he is 4 years into his hall of fame career, it would piss me off to have to start him all over again. And it’s even worse in FIFA games where players really have to start off from the bottom rung just to break into the starting XI. Sports games now should have the ability to allow players to carry over careers and stats of their teams and allow them to pick up where they left off in their career should they choose to. If you have a created player she should be able to be imported and you can’t say that it’s impossible because for years when EA had the NCAA license, their incentive for getting people to get both the NCAA games and Madden was to get the NCAA game, build your player up and by the time Madden came out, transfer that player to your Madden game and spend less time having to build them up. So, there is no reason why you can’t do the same with careers.

Allowing for more mods

Earlier, I alluded to the fact that Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer allows for mods that enhances a game’s playability and I think if more sports games allowed that, then more people would get them. Essentially it works like this for PES: In soccer there are many tournaments that are played throughout the year and because both EA and Konami have secured rights to different ones and probably have a few that they have never gotten, then it’s impossible to be able to play some in a game. EA’s model has been, “if it’s in the game, it’s in the game.” If that is so, then what about the missing tournaments that we don’t get? What about missing players and federations? Missing players can be alleviated by just creating them. Most of us recall back in the 90s when Michael Jordan was missing from NBA Live we would take some time to create him and BAM, game on. But nowadays, players want to be able to do more than just add on extra players. We want to do more than sometimes create a new team or a new stadium with limited tools that the consoles gives us. When you have people that take the time out to make their game a unique experience like roster tweaking, making classic uniforms and again, tournaments you don’t get in the basic game, it should tell developers something besides let’s charge consumers extra money to get this throwback uniform via DLC or have them pay extra for unlocking a stadium. But I guess one argument that can be made is one of ownership as most companies are happy to tell consumers that just because you bought the game doesn’t give you rights over its content. However if one knows where to look, there is a bunch of information regarding how to mod some of your favorite sports games to keep them fresh for a while after its initial release.

In conclusion, there is a lot of innovation that game companies could do to make sports games better for this generation. While Madden’s year return will as always be good for EA, we already know some of the complaints that will come from consumers. If gaming companies yearly sports franchises want to get ahead they need to do so by offering more to consumers which will allow them to continue their games without having to buy a brand new package as well as ways to create user content which will ensure the longevity of the game. There are cases of where content can be moved from game to game without that content being lost and it could certainly work for sports games. Hopefully, game companies will figure out how to do this without having to charge consumers full price every year for incremental content.

drwho

Dr. Who – Series 8: Capaldi gives us a darker Doctor in ‘Deep Breath’ opener.

by Shawn Carter

 

 

***Warning:  Slight Spoilers are abound!!! ***

Peter Capaldi took his first steps in the role of the Doctor and already, he has given us a taste of things to come for the new Doctor.

First and foremost, the zany wacky friendly antics of Matt Smith’s Doctor have been shelved for a stranger and slightly demented version. From scaring old men for their coats to discovering he is Scottish, the Doctor has regenerated into something that promises a much darker ride. He does things we aren’t used to the Doctor doing; including leaving a companion to fend for themselves and not worry about whether or not they are killed. Sure he makes up for that interesting choice of judgment quickly but there is something just off in a positive sense about the way Capaldi is tackling the role. He confronts the villain in an even creepier and stranger tone, a twisted explanation delivered to a being that is not all that friendly (the poor Dinosaur). The look he gives the camera following the resolve of the confrontation, which is left open to questions as well, gives a peek behind the veil into the thoughts inside the mind of our favorite Time Lord and we aren’t sure if we are going to like seeing what this man has in store or not. That’s the beauty of the new Doctor and somewhat of a curse leaving many of us asking are we going to be able to handle a Doctor whose methods are so opposite of our previous new looks?

There is no question this episode may be a bit of a shocker for fans who have been along for just the rides of Eccleston, Tenant and Smith. Capaldi’s Doctor has glimpses of those Doctors but he is his own man now and becoming something even he doesn’t quite understand. Everything about him is still a mystery, including giving mixed messages about whether or not he likes humanity much anymore. His memory is spotty and seems broken, almost like he cannot remember things he knows he has seen leaving him in a position we aren’t used too. The Doctor right now is at a disadvantage and all of his talents are not available to him. Will that trend continue as the Doctor finds out more about the new him? Hard to say, but the first steps seem to be setting us up for a Doctor who isn’t afraid to do the things that need to be done even if sacrifices need to be made to achieve them.

His interactions with Clara are decidedly different with the Impossible Girl deciding she doesn’t know who this Doctor is and doesn’t know if she can trust him. A message from a friend (Spoilers) convinces her to give the new look a chance, even though the episode has her being twisted, insulted and left in a horrible spot by the new face. The scene in which she decides this is especially well done with Capaldi delivering the message about the true lonely reality the Doctor is constantly facing. Convincing people you are the same man with a different attitude and face has to be tough and it is an emotional pin for the evolution of the Doctor over the decades. Capaldi and Coleman share a perfectly fine on screen chemistry, never giving you that feeling of something new is in front of you even with the knowledge the way they speak to each other is so incredibly different. Both deserve a round of applause for making the transition feel natural and not the jarring change some were expecting from the switch.

The villain for the episode is a slightly creepy foe with a simple wish of returning to a special place he cannot explain beyond calling it the Promised Land. What can be said though is while the villain is creepy, most of the first episode he is left in the background. He pops up here and there until the final half hour but before that it is about how the Doctor is coping with his change. Even though his ways of continuing to survive are morbid and a bit cruel, the villain doesn’t feel that threatening for a first run appearance. In fact, for something that can supposed do what it has the ability to accomplish, it is easily fooled and tricked making it feel like one we can just leave on a shelf somewhere and not concern ourselves with his return. What happens to the leader of a robot army is somewhat of a puzzling conclusion likely setting up the season long arc for the Doctor. Who is the new foe? Are they actually a friend? And what has them so hung up on the Doctor?

The show stealer for comedy has to go to our favorite butler Sontaran Strax. His exchanges with Clara are priceless and worth a good laugh. Madame Vastra is a bit of a sassy lady in this episode, bringing the slaps to the face of Clara that she probably needed even though Clara proved she can slap back just as sharply. Vastra’s wife Jenny brings her own brand of innocence and punchy nature as well, even when she is getting tricked by her wife to pose for a painting that isn’t even happening. Enjoy the both of them getting to defend Clara and the Doctor in a cool drop in sequence that proves once more just how useful of allies they all make.

My final thoughts on Deep Breath:
Our new Doctor is here and he’s a bit of a jerk already. Lost inside his own mind with a face he knows he has seen before, the Doctor is struggling to find not only himself but what was his greatest weapon; his intelligence. With a new design for the Tardis, a new set of threads and a slightly worried Clara, Capaldi’s Doctor is here. Even with a so-so villain and a British population that doesn’t seem fazed at all by a T-Rex walking around, the episode remains a solid first take into the new realm of Doctor Who. Hold on tight folks, because this horse we just jumped on doesn’t have a saddle and the ride could be a bit bumpy.

madden-25-ravens

Early Look at Madden 15 for the Xbox One

In this video, Aitch plays one half of EA’s anticipated annual release.  In this demonstration, he will discuss a bit about the new defensive view, some of the tweaks made for next gen systems and gameplay.

If you are on the fence  about picking it up, let us help you make up your mind.
Madden 15 releases on Tuesday August 24th, 2014.
Our review will be coming soon.

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