This is a portion of mock news articles I wrote in my Feature Writing class at HPU. Video games was my beat, of course!


1


Valve’s Steam Machines Enter The Game Console Fray

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Valve’s brand new operating system, Steam OS, is bundled with Steam Machines. (Photo courtesy of KitGuru)

In a surprising reveal, gamers might just be witnessing something that will change the video game industry as we know it. A studio has set itself to join the rarely contested ranks of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo in the game console market: Valve.

Most gamers don’t have the time, interest or money to play games on a PC. Although this platform arguably offers the best way to play games with the graphical superiority, DRM-free (data rights management) software and cheap game prices it affords, the time involvement in upgrading parts on a yearly basis, mastering the learning curve for PC building and understanding necessary PC technical terms and lingo normally turns people away.

Therefore, millions of gamers resort to game consoles like the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U to avoid the inconvenience of PC gaming. You only need to plug them in and you can start playing. They have unique peripherals (such as the Xbox One’s Kinect or the Wii U’s GamePad), special services like Sony’s PlayStation Plus, a host of exclusive games, are relatively cheap and require little to no maintenance.

Going with a PC or game console is a great choice no matter how you slice it. Both of them have their pros and cons, but Valve – a game developer, publisher and creator of the digital game store Steam – are seeking to bring the best of both worlds together with Steam Machines.

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This is a concept design for the Steam Machine, which is only one of many other designs. (Photo courtesy of TechRadar)

In collaboration with dozens of companies specializing in computer hardware, Valve has approached them with a new operating system called Steam OS and a vision to bring the power of PCs to the living room of console players. Valve aims to do this by providing a whole line of diversified, prepackaged PCs that vary in price (from $500 to $6000), design and capabilities.

By giving consumers a plethora of diversified products to choose from, Valve is making a bold move to influence the future of game systems by appealing to a broad audience. But for those who wonder how they’re going to play a PC on the couch, Valve has that covered. If you’re not using a Steam Machine at your desk and want to recline somewhere else, they’ve created a controller specifically designed for this purpose.

Valve is on to something big by combining the convenience and ease of game consoles and the graphical superiority of and affordability of purchasing games on PC. The big players in the game industry like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo better take note because this famous trio is about to see another number added to their ranks. Valve is cranking its way to the top with innovation and creativity.


2


Nintendo’s Pokémon Bank is Up and Running for “Certain Asian Countries”

Pokémon Bank, a Nintendo service for the Nintendo 3DS games “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y,” might return in the near future across the world. Nintendo has reported that it has reinstated the service in some Asian countries and will follow up with more details as to when it will relaunch in other countries.

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A diagram of how Pokemon Bank functions in relation to the other games in the franchise. (Photo courtesy of Nintendo)

Pokémon Bank allows players to transfer their Pokémon monsters from past titles in the franchise to the newest games “X” and “Y.” It acts as an online cloud deposit where you can store up to 3,000 Pokémon for as long as you want until you transfer them back to either “X” or “Y.” It’s a service that costs $4.99 a year, which is relatively cheap for fans who want to “catch ’em all.”

The service originally launched in Japan and was running smoothly, so the date to launch it in the West was still on for Dec. 27, 2013. However, following an unanticipated number of people using the service and glitches that allowed players to transport hacked Pokémon to “X” and “Y,” Pokémon Bank had its plug pulled a mere couple of days before it was released in the West.

The games’ developer Game Freak has been repairing the servers for Pokémon Bank to fix its various issues, but details have been kept surprisingly quiet and vague, which has been puzzling gamers worldwide since it shut down about a month ago.

After a whole month of no updates on the service, Nintendo tweeted last night about the service’s current status.

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These are the tweets that Nintendo put out last night. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Having the release date postponed for Pokémon Bank has been no fun for either Nintendo or gamers, but in the near future, everyone should get to know when it will check-in for good.


3


inFAMOUS: Second Son Footage Displays Its Graphical Beauty

“inFAMOUS: Second Son” is a PS4 exclusive title being developed by Sucker Punch Productions. Although gamers have been getting glimpses of how eye-popping it will be, a new video released by Sony shows just how visually stunning it is.

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Delsin Rowe hits a DUP officer with his handy chain. (Photo courtesy of Sucker Punch)

The “inFAMOUS” franchise has had two game releases in its lifetime that date back to the early days of the PlayStation 3. With sprawling cities to travel through that have impressive lighting, textures and attention to environmental detail, it was hard to imagine another sequel that could look better.

The video in question highlights the setting of “inFAMOUS: Second Son” and delves into the aspects of Seattle – the game’s setting – that the city is known for in real life. One of the points covered is how much it rains in Seattle, and the developer really wanted to capture the wet atmosphere that is so common in the city. So the video shows environment artist Josh Rife using a special software program to go into the game and literally paint puddles and “dampness” onto asphalt roads that players will run across constantly.

“If it’s a super wet time of day, you’ll see streaks of ‘wet’ coming down the sides of the building, and we can control that too,” technical art lead Jason Connell said.

Even the sun’s effect on everything in the environment is made as realistic as possible. Connell says, “[You will] see the sun hitting a wet streak and it kind of flares out for a second, just like if you’re walking on a street and it had just rained and the sun is coming down at the center of the street. … It flares out in your eyes.”

To see more of the unbelievable special effects that Sucker Punch Productions is putting into “inFAMOUS: Second Son,” check out the video below and visit their website to find out more about the game, which is scheduled to release on March 21.


4


Microsoft Has Acquired The Gears of War Franchise

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This is the logo for “Gears of War,” recognized by its iconic red skull symbol in the background. (Photo courtesy of Gamora)

“Gears of War” is a third-person shooter game franchise that has been produced on the Xbox 360 since 2006, which has found financial success with its immensely popular games. They have been primarily developed by Epic Games, which has owned the rights to the series since it began.

The developer had agreed to exclusively publish the games on Microsoft’s consoles, but this agreement was about to end, which would have given Epic Games the opportunity to publish “Gears of War” on different platforms. However, this possibility has been shut down completely. Microsoft has bought “Gears of War” from Epic Games.

By securing the franchise, Microsoft has guaranteed that they will remain its sole publisher, maintaining one of the enticing reasons for consumers to purchase Microsoft’s consoles. As for who will be developing the next “Gears of War,” it has been confirmed that a newly formed studio in Vancouver, B.C. will be taking the reigns: Black Tusk Studios.

“Black Tusk has assembled a world-class team with deep experience and passion for the shooter space, and specifically the ‘Gears of War’ franchise,” Phil Spencer said, who is Microsoft’s head of game studios. “I am extremely confident that under the leadership of Hanno Lemke (of Black Tusk), Rod Fergusson and our other leaders in the studio, Black Tusk is well equipped to take on the future development of the ‘Gears of War’ franchise.”

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A snapshot of gameplay footage from the 2012 game “Gears of War: Judgment.” (Photo courtesy of Digital Spy)

It’s unknown whether or not Epic Games as a whole will contribute as an adviser to Black Tusk Studios, but one of the key people behind the success of “Gears of War,” Rod Ferguson, the former director of production, said he will “play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk.” Epic Games also released an official statement.

“We’re very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects,” the developer said.

When will the next game in this humorously so-called “bro shooter” franchise be released? Will Black Tusk Studios — passionate as they are for the shooter genre and “Gears of War” itself — be able to handle the pressure and high expectations people have for this franchise? Only time will tell as more will be revealed in the future about this drastic and exciting direction for “Gears of War.”