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Around the Tubes

DCeased #6

It’s new comic day tomorrow! What are you all excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Engadget – Microsoft archived ‘Superman’ on its Project Silica glass storage medium – Good choice.

Newsarama – DC Quietly Closed Vertigo’s Doors Early – Pour one out.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Not Even Bones turns the YA novel into an intriguing web series – Free comics!

Reviews

Talking Comics – DCeased #6
The Beat –
The Pits of Hell

Microsoft Reveals Some Details of their Next Xbox, Project Scarlett

Project Scarlett

E3 has kicked off and publishers and platforms are rolling out lots of news about what we can expect for video games over the next few years.

Microsoft has revealed their next Xbox console, dubbed Project Scarlett, will be launching during the holiday season in 2020.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at the company, announced what hardware we can expect and a system “designed and optimized” for gaming.

The system will have:

  • Native 4K at 60 FPS, up to 120 FPS
  • Next gen SSD = 40x faster than current consoles
  • Hardware accelerated ray tracing
  • Games, accessories and career all come with you
  • 8K capable
  • Custom-designed AMD processor
  • “Four generations of content”

Halo Infinite will launch alongside the new console.

ECCC 2019: Explore the World of Minecraft with Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld

From blocks to panels, Minecraft returns to comics in this wonderful new anthology collection, Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld! Dark Horse, Mojang AB, and Microsoft have revealed the newest addition in their publishing partnership with more stories to come!

With tales of Witch and Pillager rivals finding common ground, a heartless griefer who bit off more than they could chew, and valiant heroes new (or not!) to the Overworld, Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld tells tales that span the world of the beloved game. Featuring stories from star writers Hope Larson, Kevin Panetta, Rafer Roberts, and Ryan North and exciting artists Meredith Gran, Jenn St-Onge, Stephen McCranie and more, this collection brings together stories from all Realms, leaving no block unturned!

Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld is set to go on sale October 15, 2019. The 88-page anthology retails for $14.99.

Dark Horse, Mojang AB, and Microsoft will also release a Free Comic Book Day offering with a Minecraft story on May 4, 2019. On June 4, 2019, the partners will release Minecraft Volume One by Sfé R. Monster, Sarah Graley, and John J. Hill.

Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld

To Microsoft, Gaming is About Inclusion

B21983C2-A0D1-42B4-B661-23D095725BB4I have been a gamer since I was a young boy. I’m not someone who grew out of one of my favorite hobbies, and I have owned quite a bit of the video game hardware released since the Atari 2600 and the original NES. I was an 80s kid. I spent hundreds of hours hopping on on the heads of Goombas and turtles in Super Mario Bros, and watching as a dog laughed at me as I missed a shot in Duck Hunt with the Nintendo light gun. I also was raised in a family that was very accepting and understanding for people with disabilities. My father had polio and was born before the vaccine, and my brother is autistic. I have always been around people who show me they are so much more than their disabilities, and have taught me to grow as a human being.

As a boy, I watched my father bowl by taking a set of his crutches and filing one of them down a bit so he could lean and throw the ball better. He played basketball. He drove a car. He chopped firewood. Now, I could tell by watching him, that these things weren’t easy, but he was determined to do them anyway. I look back on how hard my father worked to do basic things, and think of all of the other determined individuals who do this every day, just to get around and live their life. What if at least something they did for fun could be easier? Enter the Xbox Adaptive Controller by Microsoft.

196C1C44-19AA-4770-A2CB-1E8F47DC9038Microsoft created a large rectangular controller that is highly customizable to cover a large swath of assistive and Joystick devices. On the front there is a traditional D-pad, menu, options, profile select, and very large A and B buttons. Along the back are a large amount of 3.5 inputs that you can map to the corresponding buttons of a traditional Xbox controller. From the face buttons, the triggers, bumpers, the analog sticks and even the clicking in of the analog sticks or a direction of the d-pad such as up and down, and left and right. On the side of the controller there are multiple USB inputs for joysticks and other devices. It even looks cool. It fits right in with the Xbox family with the white and black color scheme that would look sleek and stylish in any room.

1B698CBA-6F6C-41C8-BFC9-BC3C5D1BCB45I am sure many of us take the use of our limbs for granted. What if myself and other gamers couldn’t walk, use our hands, any of our limbs, or had other things that would either keep us, or make it very difficult for us to play games and much more. No longer are we using just a joystick and a button or two like in the Atari or Arcade. The controls have become much more complex. Now there are analog sticks, context-sensitive buttons, triggers, bumpers, menu, options, share, touch screens and so many other options that require our input, and most of them may require the gamer to press several of them quickly and within a second of each other.

The most impressive thing about the controller is just how many devices it supports. Think of it less as just a basic controller, and more as a hub that allows some amazing depth and customization to fit the gamers needs. Like the name suggests, it is extremely adaptable. It supports large buttons, mouth operated joysticks, and other input devices that allow gamers to press with their legs, use foot pedals, and so much more. The controller will cost $99 and will ship in the fall of this year, 2018. The accessories do not come with it, those are sold separately, but the controller supports many different companies products.

The other feature that can tie into the Adaptive Controller is Co-Pilot. This is a feature built into the Xbox operating system that allows two controllers to act as one. If someone is having trouble pressing buttons or is unable to, a second person with a second controller can do that for them. Co-Pilot is available now, and does not need the Adaptive Controller to work. You can use two standard Xbox controllers. This, combined with the Adaptive Controller, makes for an impressive ecosystem that welcomes everyone.

FB85FBBC-7BDA-4B2C-9D74-2D318814B6FFWhat Microsoft has done with it’s Adaptive Controller is shown that it’s being inclusive with it’s platform. What many of us have taken for granted, is a reality that many people with disabilities deal with every day. They have issues that they have to deal with that are much bigger than video games, but I am glad to see a corporation as big as Microsoft take the step to bring them an easier way to have fun, without all of the roadblocks they would have to face with a traditional controller. Game on my friends!

Marvel Studios Executive Producer Victoria Alonso is in Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 Ad

Microsoft has been pushing hard into the creative community with their Surface line of tablets/computers. The company’s latest ad features Marvel Studios Executive Producer Victoria Alonso talking about the Surface Pro 4. It’s interesting to see the Marvel brand being used so much in a Microsoft ad. And smart on Microsoft for attaching themselves to such a powerful movie studio.

Guessing Marvel is a Window’s shop?

Machinima Settles With the FTC for Deceptive Videos

Machinima_LogoWe’ve written in the past how sites, such as ours, should be disclosing payments and products received for free in our coverage (we do). YouTube network Machinima has been busted, and paid a fine, for not disclosing payments received for positive coverage of the Xbox One. Part of their deal with Microsoft was not to talk about fight club disclose the payments.

That’s pretty sketchy.

The Federal Trade Commission has rules about this. We discuss those in the link above. The FTC launched an investigation into the deal and Machinima’s “deceptive advertising.” The FTC announced today that there has been a settlement.

Writes the FTC:

Under the proposed settlement, Machinima is prohibited from similar deceptive conduct in the future, and the company is required to ensure its influencers clearly disclose when they have been compensated in exchange for their endorsements.

More from the FTC release:

Respondent paid influencer Adam Dahlberg $15,000 for the two video reviews that he uploaded to his YouTube channel “SkyVSGaming.” In his videos, Dahlberg speaks favorably of Microsoft, Xbox One, and Ryse. Dahlberg’s videos appear to be independently produced and give the impression that they reflect his personal views. Nowhere in the videos or in the videos’ descriptions did Dahlberg disclose that Respondent paid him to create and upload them. Dahlberg’s first video received more than 360,000 views, and his second video more than 250,000 views.

Respondent paid influencer Tom Cassell $30,000 for the two video reviews that he uploaded to his YouTube channel “TheSyndicateProject.” In his videos, Cassell speaks favorably of Microsoft, Xbox One, and Ryse. Cassell’s videos appear to be independently produced and give the impression that they reflect his personal views. Nowhere in the videos or in the videos’ descriptions did Cassell disclose that Respondent paid him to create and upload them. Cassell’s first video received more than 730,000 views, and his second video more than 300,000 views.

$30,000!? How do we get some of this cash?

Microsoft didn’t directly cut the deals, their ad agency Starcom did. In the marketing campaign the company recruited YouTube personalities to make specific types of videos about the new Xbox system, and all of them were positive.

That phase one.

Phase two had more people involved and paid based on their traffic. 300 videos were made in the end adding up to over 300 million views.

You can get paid for this stuff!? You also just get a slap on the wrist if caught? Machinima could have been on the hook for $16,000 in fines, netting them a nice profit for the scheme. They won’t have to pay anything.

We just get free stuff (and disclose everything). Knowing this, how does this change your opinion of sites such as ours?

(via Kotaku and Wired)

Is It Finally Time to Upgrade to Xbox One?

xbox oneBuyers Remorse In The Bright Light Of Day

So I’ve had my Xbox One for almost a year now. My wife gifted it to me in mid-September of last year after I bugged her for months that we needed to get one. In retrospect, I was somewhat misguided and completely delusional. I’ll admit that it was in large part my fault because I had been watching the Destiny trailers almost non-stop since they first rolled out and I didn’t want to fall behind on the curve of what was going to define the future of gaming.

I know, delusional.

After that ponderous month of playing Destiny with the not so uncommon thought, “That’s it?” and I realized that pretty much applied to the overall Xbox One experience in those first months. There wasn’t much else to. Sure I could grind in Dead Rising 3 some more, but that was an experience too close to Destiny‘s repetitiveness. I mentioned that right? Destiny is repetitive. So I looked at the available library of games in the Xbox One store and there were a few here and there that I picked up, but nothing that was amazing.  The Games with Gold for those months had some real stinkers until Rayman Legends was an amazing platformer that absorbed and entertained me as I hadn’t been in years. Even my wife loved watching the bright colors almost as much as my daughter. Unfortunately, once beaten I didn’t really feel the need to grind to a million lums (the in-game collectible), half a million had gotten me through to the end just fine.

So there I was at the beginning of the year, wondering why I had so foolishly become an early adopter (albeit a few months late) when I knew that the first year for a console is always a desolate landscape for games. Sure the graphics were better than on my 360, but that really didn’t justify the $400 my wife shelled out for what was just a box without a lot of games, some apps that I could access with the same quality on my 360 or Apple TV, and a lot of potential that was going unrealized.

 

This Is A His & Hers Gift!?

To be honest wife is not really a big gamer. She will play the crap out of Castlevania Symphony of the Night on my old PS2 (thank you backwards compatibilities!) but not much else. She would rather watch me play while she sits at the end of the couch playing on Facebook on her phone. To say the least, she’s tolerant of my worsening gaming obsession, which I’ll get to, but mainly uses our Xbox One to watch TV shows on Hulu and Netflix.

My wife became just as reliant on that sleek black box and its “invasive, All-Seeing Eye,” as she commented during the Kinect’s unboxing. The Kinect it turns out was a lifesaver for us, being two new parents tethered to our couch by our newborn responsibility. We soon found how reliant we became upon the convenience of control that the Kinect provided us while watching Netflix or Hulu and wrangling a newborn at our feet. Sometimes you can’t get to the remote. You’re busying wrestling a six month old for control of your life, your sanity, and that godforsaken remote that being able to shout, “Xbox Pause!” just seems the perfect panacea.

It seems that the main function of the Xbox One in our household has been that of entertainment system with an interface that works better than our other devices. This I think was the initial goal for Microsoft in the development for their next gen console. They wanted to reach the full household with accessibility and that was clearly the company’s focus in its first year.

 

ab07e0d9-8344-4c8d-aa01-550a7265b7f9Good Things Happen for Those Who Wait, Like A Year Tops

Fast forward a few months and suddenly the Xbox One is now all about gaming. Indie games are now releasing with consistency, but more importantly, they have true appeal. These are not the filler games that seemed to flourish in the long months following the Xbox One’s launch. These are games that specifically target next gen platforms for their release. I’ve become elated, but more importantly I’ve become hooked.

While most of the AAA games announced at the launch of the next gens systems were delayed, this year has seen the results of those delays. Batman Arkham Knight being the first of many great titles releasing this year, but it’s not even an exclusive. Upcoming you have Halo 5 Guardians in October and Rise of the Tomb Raider in November. Those two titles alone will last me well into 2016 when I am nervously waiting for Tom Clancy’s The Division to not fall victim of its own hype (again, see Destiny). Now that’s just a few more months to wait, but they appear to be well worth it and in the meantime you play some of the great indie releases out now.

Over the next year, there are a ton of other great ID@Xbox indie games set to release that look amazing, like Ashen, Cuphead, and Below, but more importantly there are some great games that are available right now. Currently I’m in love with The Long Dark, one of the first Xbox One Game Preview titles that became available after it was announced at E3. I played the half hour demo and immediately forked over the cash to keep playing obsessively over the next few nights. It’s a game that makes you wonder in a good way that, “Maybe I could survive a disaster like that…?” Well, probably not, but you still have fun raiding cabins for junk, junk food, and a life-saving box of matches. The Long Dark is definitely a title to look out for, and they haven’t even released the story mode yet — this is the Alpha!

If you’re looking for something with a bit more story, The Fall actually has won some awards for that. You play as the AI to a military space suit that crash lands on a planet and is trapped inside a robot decommissioning plant trying to save your suit’s occupant. The game is part one of a trilogy and while not overly long once you know what you are doing, the exploration and puzzle-solving, mixed with a moody tone reminiscent of Limbo, allow for the player to get caught up in the rich story from the start. I am definitely looking forward to the next two games to see where its deeply questioning story goes.

 

make-it-rain-dollarsStart Saving for the Holidays

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like a gamer. I’ve been pretty casual about upping the difficulty on my games from the start since loading up the Xbox One. I used to be fine just beating games on the Normal Difficulty, but there is something about the controller for the Xbox One that instills the confidence to play at even the most Nightmarish difficulties. With the added difficulty, I’m feeling more and more like a little kid again as well. I feel like I’m trying to make impossible jump after impossible jump, while sprinting down narrow corridors, and shooting fireballs from my fingertips.

So I end up gaming a lot now. It’s likely not more than I used to during college, and is probably less, but there is an excitement there that I never had before. The technology of the next gen consoles is part of it, but really I think it’s from the quality of games that are coming out now, both AAA and indie releases. It is like a new Golden Age of Gaming has begun and you just have to sign in to be a part of it.

Now some may point out that a lot of what the Xbox One does, the Playstation 4 can do as well. They have many of the same games and exclusives often only last a few months before releasing on a competitor’s console. I would say that they’re right, but the wholly exclusive games of the PS4 when stacked against the Xbox One appeal to me more. I still haven’t gotten a PS3 to play the exclusive titles that looked amazing, so I can’t even begin to reason how to justify buying a PS4. I don’t have the time or currency to devote to two systems. I guess I’ve been a fan the Halo series since the original Xbox and sometimes you just have to go home with the horse that brought you.

Microsoft Xbox E3 Press Event – Live Reaction

Hello all! In about half an hour, Microsoft will take the stage to kick off the day of video game press conferences coming out of E3 2015. Right here is where you can get updated information as it is announced at the event. I will be updating this post with announcements and perhaps a bit of snark. So watch with me as the “greatest games lineup in Xbox history” is revealed.

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, so stick with us.


Update 18: We’re coming to the end. Phil is back on the stage talking about how awesome they are. Quantum Break and Crackdown will be shown at Gamescon. Exit sizzle reel has some other games, but that is it. I would say the backwards compatibility is the biggest announcement. Otherwise, no real surprises here. Overall, I’d give this presser a grade of a C. Nothing super great or exciting, but no major missteps either. I will give them credit for mainly focusing on what is happening now and not over promising. Still, it would have been nice to see a non-indy title that wasn’t announced at last year’s E3.  Alright, that is it for now. Next up is EA at 4 PM. You can get to our coverage through the hub-page.

Update 17: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. A remastered version of the first Gears of War. Public beta for it begins today. Now here is the new Gears game. It is dark and has big soldiers with chainsaws on their guns and rumble-running. Oh yeah, and weird monsters you need to destroy from behind cover. Gears 4 is the title, but Holiday 2016 is the date….so we’ll see it again next year for sure.

Update 16: Fables: Legends has become a free-to-play game. We get a new trailer, but aside from a few short clips, it is hard to tell what’s going on. It is cross-platform between Windows 10 and Xbox One. New relationship with Valve VR – working with Valve to make Windows the best VR platform. Reconfirming their partnership with Oculus Rift. And now we’re going to talk about the Microsoft HoloLens. Time for a tech demo using Minecraft and the HoloLens. It is a tether-less holographic projector headset.   They are using a special camera to show what the HoloLens is showing. It is pretty cool as a tech demo, but they aren’t selling this as something that will actually make my gaming experience better. Also, they are going to hold MineCon in London in a few weeks.

Update 15: Rare Replay – 30 games for $30. Haha, 10,000 gamerscore available for the achievement chasers. Battletoads, Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark (the original), Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and many more. Coming in August, this collection is totally worth $30. Also, they introduce a “shared-world adventure game”. Looks first-person and pirate-y. We see a group of players coming to a pirate ship then working as a crew aboard, finding treasure, walking the plank, fighting other ships. Sea of Thieves looks like it could be fun. The problem with all online games like that is the player base needed to make it work is tough to get and balance, but it is exciting.

Update 14: It looks good. Trudging through the snow leaves trails behind Laura. More ice climbing and major storms trying literally rain destruction as Laura tries to make it to some mysterious ruins. November 10th release. That game looks pretty great. Oh snap, time for Rare.

Update 13: Xbox Game Preview – an early-access program. Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark will be available later today. It will be interesting to see how this shapes development for these games. DayZ creator comes to the stage to introduce Ion which is some kind of space management sim. Again, just a teaser. Here comes Crystal Dynamics to show us Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Update 12: Windows 10 and Xbox One exclusive of a cartoony third-person title. Gigantic seems to be a team battle arena? Free to play…I dunno…not a lot here to explain what is happening. Followed by a sizzle reel of a lot of indie games, many of which were introduced at last year’s E3. Now branded as ID@Xbox. Fullbright studios takes the stage to show off their new game, Tacoma which is first on Xbox and PC. It seems to be a first-person puzzler on a space station. Next, Ashen, an adventure game set in a bleak land. Again, not much to judge. Next indie up is Beyond Eyes which has a blind protagonist. Very nice art style, with a very watercolor feel. The world is only “visible” in small swaths of hearing and smell and touch. Keeping the Indie train rolling, the return of Cuphead, which was one of the most interesting teases from last year’s E3. Classic 1930s/40s art style meets 16-bit platform mechanics. Still coming 2016.

Update 11: New video for The Division. The graphics look a little less gritty than when we last saw it. Ubisoft Americas president takes the stage to talk about it a bit more. Action-RPG, set in New York after a plague sweeps the place. Xbox One gets an exclusive beta in December. I’m sure we’ll hear more later tonight. Next up Rainbow Six: Siege. Rainbow Six: Vegas and Vegas 2 will be backwards compatible and will be free with Siege. October 13th release date.

Update 10: From software world premier? Time for a Dark Souls 3 trailer. It looks dark and hard and like a game I won’t be playing, but I know there are a lot of you that like it.

Update 9: Forza time. Ford Motor Company is bringing back the Ford GT, and they lower one onto the stage. It is a good looking car. Forza Motorsport 6 is coming. Guess what? The team that has been making near-photo-realistic racing games for a while are still really good at their job. 24 player multiplayer, 1080p 60 fps. Releases September 15th.

Update 8: Peter Moore from EA comes to the stage to talk about EA Access – the subscription based service. Play first, play more, play for less is their tag. Xbox One EA Access users will get this year’s Madden early. Xbox Live Gold members get to play the EA Access vault for free this week. Also, announcement of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 coming next spring. He leaves us with a trailer. This trailer is a mix between the Minions and a bad ’90s action movie. I suppose that is intentional, but it didn’t work for me. Of course, I don’t think I’m the target demo.

Update 7: Fallout 4 on stage. So far nothing new from last night’s Bethesda press event. Here is a bit about a laser musket weapon with a little bit of story. Ah, this is where last night’s bit with the power armor came from. A little more context, but still, nothing amazing to add. Here is a new bit: mods created on PC will be sharable and playable on Xbox One. There is also a banner saying you will get Fallout 3 with Fallout 4 on Xbox One.

Update 6: The backwards compatibility is native and will be available this holiday season for everyone. No charge to play the games you already own. Preview members can start with select titles today. This is a major announcement. It will require that you download the game to the Xbox One, so I guess it is a good thing they are releasing the larger hard drive version. Next comes a trailer for the Xbox Elite Controller which has some cool customization options like the ability to add paddle controllers and it looks like you can program what they do.

Update 5: Phil Spencer takes the stage and drops a bomb: Backwards compatibility with 360 titles is coming.

Update 4: World Premiere video for a game of a kid and its robot dog wandering a desert wilderness. Spider turret bots attack. The kid has a rifle, and gadgets, the dog sacrifices itself leaving behind a big ball of blue energy which the kid uses to power a larger ape-like robot and says “welcome back buddy.” Recore is the title, slated for a Spring 2016 launch. Another exclusive from Microsoft. Looks cool, has a good pedigree, but not a lot to judge since it was just a trailer.

Update 3: Starting with 343 Studios head on the stage. There we go best exclusives launching this year going into Halo 5: Guardians with the audio tag of Xbox One exclusive. Nathan Fillion getting prime play in the teaser. We move into game play. In this demo you are playing as Spartan Locke on the trail of Master Chief. The visuals are impressive. It certainly looks like Halo, but has a different finish and feel from Bungie. There is squad based combat, and we see Locke issuing squad commands to focus on an enemy ship and help a downed comrade. In the next area the group splits in two to flank the enemy. It is Halo, it will sell millions of copies.

Update 2: Here we go. Sizzle reel to start: Tomb Raider, Gears of War, HALO, Fables, Forza all make an appearance. Setting the tone early that we are going to harp a lot on platform exclusives. You know, the bane of the non-fanboy gamer.

Update 1: The stream is up. So far, just a screen telling us in several languages that the briefing will start at 12:30 EDT.