A work of Art.

A lot of people raise their eyebrows and question me whenever I portray my feelings about video games and how they’re this incredible piece of Art form.
Now I know a lot of you might want to stop reading right about now, but please, carry on. Give it a read and I assure you, it’ll make you think.

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Now we all know, in the mainstream world, good art is hard to find because it’s underrated by all the crap that’s out there, be it in music, drawing, graphic designing etc. Now art is in itself, an under appreciated subject when you compare it alongside Science or Commerce/Economics. Atleast that’s the case where I am from, I,e, India.

So my question is, what does it take to be an art form or rather, a work of art. Is it creativity? is it being able to delve into an imaginary world of someone else? is it about music? is it about the design? or is it about painting? Now most people would say it’s about all these things, and that’s probably true! (I say probably because I’m no expert of Art and hence I don’t feel like it’s my right to give it an absolute answer, specially when you consider how art seems to grow every day and incorporate a lot of new things in due time) But these are the same people, at least most of them anyway, who later go on to say that video games are not works of art. Rather, they don’t even try to appreciate it as works of art. Why is this the case? Because video games certainly have all the things we’ve talked about just a while ago, and more so!

Let’s be honest here, in this day and age, gaming is still seen as something that kids do or play when they’re bored and hence, are not meant for the more “mature” adults. Even though the average gamer is infact not a child but an adult between the age of 25-35 years old (I might be off the numbers ever so slightly but it’s around that age) with a solid job. Why is this the case, why is gaming still under appreciated and not seen as a legitimate art form, even though a video game has but, just recently broken 7 world records. Yes we’re talking about that revolutionary video game, or so I like to call it that anyway, Grand Theft Auto 5. 

So to conclude this topic, I would just like to say that I know that I have a lot of art oriented people who read my blog, and I would love to encourage you to go and try out a good video game, and see it as a work of art and delve into the imaginary world of someone else. Experience the fantasy first hand with separate music for each and every game playing in the background, always setting the mood according to the stage of gameplay and making the whole experience even better.
See it for what it is today, rather than something that is meant to pre-occupy children while the parents are busy, as is commonly thought; because that was never the case to begin with. Video games were essentially meant to be something that’s solely based around fun, but now they’re so much more than that, that it’s becoming hard to categorize each and every unique idea that comes out of the mainstream gaming companies, let alone the indie gaming industry who’re famous for dishing out games that are so creative and unique that it leaves an imprint in the gaming industry and completely changes how things work! Just like other pieces of art. Video games are essentially a very new form of art that has yet to be recognized as a part of the genre, atleast in the mainstream, and if you give them a chance, I can assure you that you’ll learn to appreciate the intricate beauty the genre holds,  if you’re a true lover of art.

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Half Life 3 confirmed by Valve and it might just be a SteamOS Exclusive!

Video game developer Valve is confirming that it is currently working actively on Half-Life 3 via its internal User Picker tool, which it uses to track projects and manage the personnel involved with them.

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The tool is actually, not meant to be seen by the public, but the secretive company seems to have made a blunder and has made it accessible to the public and fans of the series were able to see new entries for both Half-Life 3 and for Half-Life 3 Core, which we’re guessing is the Engine the game is going to be using. 

According to Gematsu, there are about 46 people at Valve currently working on the game itself and another 10 linked to the Core project. If you ask me? I doubt it was a blunder but rather the studio itself might have deliberately offered outsiders access to its internal tools to confirm Half-Life 3 work without making an official announcement. Nice way to get the hype going eh? So, what I’m trying to say is, This is it guys, Half Life 3 is pretty much confirmed and is in development and will be released within the next 2.5 years at the latest or within 3 months at its earliest. Why do I say that? Well that’s because recently, an European trademark has also been filed for the title and the trademark Valve has registered, needs to be used within 3 months of time and if they can’t, the trademark becomes invalid. They can however, extend the use of the trademark upto 5 times, and each time they extend, it grants them 6 more months of time. So if you do the math, that’s why we say, 2.5 years! 

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Valve is also working on its own OS and on hardware, i.e. the SteamOS and the Steam Machine. So accordingly we’re going to make an obvious guess, i.e. we’re going to believe that Half Life 3 along with any other games Valve is releasing will be exclusive to the SteamOS, so as to make people use their new products, and what better way to do it then release one of the most long awaited games in all of history? (In case you don’t remember, Half Life 2 was launched way back in 2004!!!) Why will it be a SteamOS exclusive and not a Steam Box exclusive you ask? As I already stated in a previous article, we already mentioned how Valve has already stated that PC users need not buy a Steam Machine if they do not want to, so I doubt they’re going to go back on their statement and suddenly offer a console exclusive game and let their PC gamer fan base down, which more or less makes up for all of it’s fan base to begin with, for the moment atleast! 

Machinima’s Inside Gaming has also speculated that the next round of games that Valve releases might be bundled and sold using the name “Steam Box”, a name which was predicted to be Valve’s upcoming hardware only to be found out that it was rather named the Steam Machine. Why Steam Box? Easy, the previous bundle was called the Orange Box! It was a Box. Hence Steam Box! 

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But in all seriousness, the speculation might just be true if you ask me! And if it turns out to be true, Are you ready to play some brand new Valve Games? 

Steam Machine and it’s Impact on Gaming.

With a 3rd console now entering the Next Gen console war, i.e. the Steam Machine, what difference do you think it will make?

First of all, I think we should all first talk about what Valve is actually trying to do here and who the Steam Machine is actually meant for.
From what I seem to understand after going through all of valve’s recent announcements, Steam Machine is more about bringing the glory of the PC to the living room space rather than just making their own version of a console with it’s own exclusives; without actually bringing the PC over.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s because Valve has already stated that you can build your Own Steam Machine and upgrade or mod the ones you buy according to how you wish…. just like a PC. Now Valve is obviously not stupid enough to price those consoles extremely high, because consoles are known for their cheap investment where you can play most of the games that come out in the next 5 years or so, but people are speculating that to build a good Steam Machine, it’ll take a bit too much, specially when you compare the PS4’s extremely appealing 400$ price range. Now what I am speculating is that the SteamOS will be extremely helpful in this case as it has been shown to give a boost in graphical capabilities of a given game in the same hardware when compared with another OS, presumably Windows 7 or 8.  This is actually a huge deal and something most people are underestimating, if you can run games on higher settings in SteamOS with the same hardware that runs games on medium settings on your windows, it’s obvious that if you’re a gamer, you will want to switch to the SteamOS or Steam Machine when you are gaming.
Since a Steam Machine won’t carry the extra luggage a PC does, it’s same to presume that it’ll be cheaper when compared to a PC, otherwise the Steam Machine really doesn’t have a use cause if we wanted to just hook up our PC to a TV and play with a controller, we can still do that. Streaming isn’t enough to lure gamers into buying the Steam Box, so I expect quite a few surprises up Valve’s sleeves for the coming Next Gen console war!

Also, if I’m to guess, I’ll say the Steam Machine might just carry some unique hardware of it’s own. Something that’s only compatible with the steam machine and nothing else. Makes sense when you think about the fact that it’s upgradable and/or customizable. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out to be a bad thing unlike the PlayStation 3’s Cell Processor which lead to the PS3’s shaky start of it’s console life.

Now something I’m really excited about, is the fact that we might finally be getting console only games on PC as well!!!!
Why do I say that?
Probably because Steam is entering the console market with it’s Steam Machines which will as far as I can imagine, use the Steam client we PC gamers are used to at this day and age. And also, Valve mentions that we don’t have to buy a Steam Machine. That to me basically means, “We won’t have any exclusives for the Box”. This doesn’t mean they won’t have exclusives, but rather it means that they won’t have any exclusives related to the hardware. Their exclusives will rather be related to the SteamOS if I had to guess, meaning that you’ll need SteamOS installed if you want to play let’s say… Half Life 3?! ;D Something like this is predictable  and bound to happen but hey, they need exclusives if they want to survive a console war, let alone try and win it, so we can’t really blame them.
The Steam Machine will obviously also get the “console only” games, because at the end of the day, the Steam Machine is a console, and I doubt valve is dumb enough to not have any console only games on their own consoles, and this is basically the reason why I think PC gamers will be getting “console only” games as well, which makes them not so “console only”.

From what I can understand, Valve is trying to unite both console gamers and PC gamers together and they might just accomplish in doing so with their Steam Machines and SteamOS. Let’s just hope they don’t plan on conquering the world anytime soon, because knowing this company, they’re capable of doing almost anything! On other news, I myself definitely can’t wait to get my hands on a Steam Machine and see what it’s all about, mostly the hardware aspects and figure out how things work.

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3rd Announcement is out. No Half Life 3!

So, the third announcement by Valve is out and it’s not Half Life 3. I have to say, I’m disappointed, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. On the other hand however, we did get a very weird little controller instead! This thing looks like something out of the future, and in some ways, also impractical, but that I won’t know till I get a hands on impression myself. 

ImageLet’s start with the design of the controller shall we? My first impression when I saw the controller was kind of like this: 

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I have to say, I’m confused as well as quite impressed by the new controller. I don’t think there’s any other controller out there that’s quite like this one. And I would definitely love to get my hands on this thing in order to see how well it performs. Even though Half Life 3 wasn’t announced, this controller more or less makes up for it, because Valve might truly be revolutionizing the console gaming market. Even the Steam Machine announcements didn’t interest me as much as this weird looking controller did. Will the controller be a disappointment though? I very much doubt it since Valve doesn’t really have a history of screwing things up unless I’m forgetting something. But hey, anything can happen!