The Most Exciting Announcements (So Far) from CES 2016

It’s a brand new year, so what better time to showcase the new technology we have to look forward to in 2016? The Consumer Technology Association event in Las Vegas opened it’s doors in Las Vegas yesterday, and will run until the 9th January. During that time, visitors can peruse the show floor for the latest gadgets, attend keynote speeches and truly get to grips with the new technology on offer. Here’s what’s been showcased so far:

Whirlpool Connected Home Suite

As app controlled devices go, you probably didn’t think about connecting your fridge or your oven to your smartphone, but Whirlpool have unveiled a range that does just that. Their oven can download recipes, the dishwasher can be programmed to run more quietly when people are home, and your washing machine can connect with your Amazon account and order more washing powder when you’re running out. It’s either the beginning of Skynet or a way to make household chores a whole lot easier, it all depends on whether you’re happy with your white goods having access to your bank account details.

Oculus Rift

Guests have been lining up to test out the final version of the ground breaking virtual reality machine, due out next year. The price has been revealed as being £500, which will include the headset, sensor, Oculus Remote, cables, an Xbox One controller, and copies of the games EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Those who contributed enough to the Rift’s Kickstarter Campaign should be receiving a free bundle at some point in the near future.

One interesting demonstration of the technology lets users experience what old age would be like for them. The headset lets them try driving with issues such as glaucoma and cataracts, and combined with Real Sense Technology smart suits and auditory experiences, has reportedly created a very powerful experience.

Wearable tech

As predicted, wearable tech has become huge in the last year, and now we’re seeing the latest updates and improvements to the technology. Leading fitness trackers Fitbit have announced the Fitbit Blaze, a direct competitor to the Apple Watch. The watch will let users track their exercise, as well as check texts and control music on a paired smartphone. It’s set to have less features but a lower price point than the Apple Watch, making it a cheaper alternative.

Several leading brands have begun to look into wearable tech, too. L’Oreal have debuted a UV sensitive patch that is worn on the skin, and can measure its effect on the user. Shoe manufacturer New Balance are developing an Android powered smartwatch that’s aimed at athletes. It’s clear that existing brands are starting to look into creating new tech themselves, rather than get displaced by startups.

Driverless cars

The age of the driverless car comes closer and closer. Nvdia have announced they will create a ‘supercomputer’ for driverless cars. About the size of a lunchbox, the computer will have as much processing power as 150 Macbooks Pros, and can apparently tell the difference between street signs, cars, and humans. It’s already being tested by several car manufacturers, so it may not be long before we see the first car driving itself on the streets.

Merry Christmas 2015!

Dear readers,

Merry Christmas to you! Everyone here at Dojit hopes you have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

Thank you for reading and getting involved, and here’s to another a year packed full of exciting app and gaming news.

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Tech Toys Through the Ages: How Gaming Changed the Shape of Christmas

With only eight sleeps until Christmas, those of us with children will know all too well that Father Christmas is employing only the most tech savvy elves, so he can leave the tech toys they want so much under their tree. It feels like in recent years that kids have veered away from Barbie and Action Man, and are more into their iPads and PS4s. However, toys on the cutting edge of technology have been on children’s Christmas lists for decades. Here, we run down some of the most popular toys from years past, and trace the history of the tech toy at Christmas.

1975: Pong

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The grandaddy of all gaming consoles, the home version of Pong changed home gaming forever. For the first time, gamers could play a video game at home, right there on their TV. Demand was so high for the machine that customers were queuing up for hours just to add their names to a list for it. Sound familiar to any modern gamers?

1985: Teddy Ruxpin

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Jump forward a decade and this unassuming looking teddy was the hottest toy of 1985. When a cassette tape was inserted into his back, Teddy Ruxpin would read a story to you, all while moving his mouth and eyes. It sounds rather primitive now, but his pioneering technology paved the way for the technological marvels in your children’s toy boxes right now.

1991: Gameboy

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Nintendo have long held the crown for the best handheld console manufacturer, and it all started with this. The original Gameboy was a hulking slab of grey plastic, but for gamers it was revolutionary. It’s battery life was around 35 hours, easily better than it’s competitors at the time, and the console saw the first version of super addictive puzzler Tetris. Candy Crush, eat your heart out.

1997: Tamagotchi

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The toy that drove teachers worldwide to distraction, the Tamagotchi was the must-have toy of 1997. Housed in a small plastic keychain toy was your very own digital pet, who you had to love, feed, and clean up after, otherwise your pet was off to Tamagotchi heaven. Everyone of a certain age can remember the horror of forgetting to check their Tamagotchi and discovering it had died. Traumatising.

1998: Furby

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Imagine a Teddy Ruxpin, only that teddy was a cross between a hamster and an owl, and wouldn’t shut up unless you took it’s batteries out. Children everywhere tried to teach their new furry friends English by playing with them, driving their parents bonkers on Christmas day. Their popularity waned and they were discontinued in 2000, but they’ve made comebacks in recent years and are still haunting toy stores across the land.

2000s: Video game consoles

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During the 2000’s, it was the video game consoles that truly rose to be the most popular ‘toy’ at Christmas. Obviously popular with children and adults alike, who doesn’t remember the long lines at electronic stores as impatient fans waited for their PS3 or Xbox 360? Of course, the desperation for these machines caused a commotion, with reports of fights breaking out in stores and people deploying underhanded tactics to get their hands on a machine in time for Christmas day.

Today:

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Most of the toys topping children’s lists this year have some technological components, but are by and large still ‘traditional’ toys. Notable toys include Teddy Ruxpin’s successor My Friend Freddy, a teddy bear that pairs up with an app and gets to know you and your family, and the Frozen Sing A Long Elsa doll, who sings children’s favourite ‘Let It Go’. There’s also a huge market for nostalgia, with an Interactive Tracey Island making the list. Parents may worry that technology has ruined toys, but let’s be honest, it’s only made them cooler.

Episodic Fury: FFVII Fans’ Anger At New Remake Announcement

Since E3, Final Fantasy fans have been over the moon with the news that finally, FINALLY, a Final Fantasy VII remake was in the works. Long considered one of the best Final Fantasy games, fans are excited to see the story of Cloud and his friends overcoming the evil Shinra corporation in shiny HD vision.

On December 5th, they got their very first look at gameplay footage in a trailer shown at Sony’s Playstation Experience. It’s not perfect, with some stuttering and lip syncing issues, but it still gives a good idea of how the finished game will look.

Unfortunately for some, a couple of days later it was announced that the game will be released episodically. The official reasoning behind this is that the game would be too large to release as a standalone title, but many fans are very upset over this development.

Some have said that an episodic Final Fantasy VII is a blatant cash grab, and that it invites Square Enix to start charging microtransactions for elements of the game. The announcement has even prompted some into launching a change.org petition, telling Square Enix that they ‘abhor’ this decision and that creating an episodic game would ‘drain’ the positive emotional response they created with the remake’s announcement.

While this response is somewhat dramatic, there could be problems with an episodic release instead of a full, standalone one. The main problem, as Red Bull have pointed out, is that of exploration. The joy of JRPGs is that you can wander back and forth across the game map to your heart’s content, picking up side quests and exploring the world. If the game is episodic, will the player be confined to a single area for that episode? If that’s the case, it could really hurt the game’s flow and scope. Also, there is that niggling fear that microtransactions could become involved. If they’re for extra or cosmetic items, that could be ok. However, if players are asked to fork out more for story content or campaigns, things could get ugly quickly.

If Square Enix are being true to their word, then maybe making FFVII episodic could work. If telling the story in chunks, the game can dedicate more time to each scene, especially as the developers have already promised that nothing will be left out. With such a beloved game, leaving anything out, no matter how small or inconsequential, could be highly upsetting for the fans.

So, have the fans overreacted? Possibly a tad, especially in the case of the petition, but many of their fears are justified. Many gamers grew up playing FFVII, so it’s to be expected that they’ll feel overprotective of the remake. However, it’s worth knowing that if they’re not happy with the outcome, they’re not obligated to buy the finished product. If you’re not happy about what they’re doing, FFVII fans, this blogger recommends you vote with your wallet.

The 8 Most Anticipated Games of Christmas 2015

It’s now December, so you can officially put up your Christmas tree, belt out carols, and scoff mince pies without the guilt. After all, ‘tis the season.

It’s also time to start thinking about all the games you’re hoping to find in your stocking (or Steam account) on Christmas morning. If you’re still not sure which games you want to be playing on Boxing Day, or you’re looking for the perfect gift for the gamer in your life, then look no further. We’ve rounded up some of the mostly hotly anticipated titles for Christmas 2015.

1. Rock Band 4 /Guitar Hero Live

Two different games, both with similar concepts and both back from the dead. If you’ve ever harboured secret rock star fantasies (and if you haven’t, you’re lying), then these games are for you.

If you’re looking for a game that’s easy to pick up and play with your friends during festive get togethers, Rock Band 4 is the game to go with. If you still have your old Rock Band instruments lying around, you can even use those with this new installment. If you’re looking for a revamped version of the same genre, try Guitar Hero Live. It’s new instruments include buttons that replicate the rets on a guitar, and an MTV style 24 hour music channel that you can play along with.

2. Star Wars Battlefront

It really is the year of Star Wars, and if you’ve not had enough of it after The Force Awakens comes out, there’s Star Wars Battlefront. This action shooter title is a reboot of the previous Battlefront titles, allowing you to step into the shoes of either a Rebel Alliance soldier or a Stormtrooper and wreak havoc in a variety of locations from the movies.

3. Lego Dimensions

The latest contender in the ‘toys to life’ genre, it really was only a matter of time before Lego came in and blew everybody else out of the water. Thanks to the huge array of licenses that Lego hold, you can play as anyone from the Simpsons, Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters franchises, as well as diving into the Portal universe as you’ve never seen it before. It’s already become a huge hit, even beating the Skylanders franchise in sales upon it’s release.

4. Halo 5: Guardians

Halo fans will be glad to see there’s another installment in the franchise this Christmas. This time, the player steps into the combat boots of an all new Spartan, who’s on the hunt for Master Chief. This time, the player controls a squad of Spartans, who can be ordered around, leading to all new in game tactics.

5. Fallout 4

The latest Fallout installment has already seen huge popularity upon its release, but the few who didn’t get the game on launch day will hopefully be finding it under the Christmas tree. Fallout 4 is set in an alternative USA where nuclear bombs were deployed, leaving the country a wasteland. Your character sets off on a quest to avenge the death of their partner and save their son, Shaun. I predict there’ll be a lot of people glued to this come Boxing Day…

6. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

This year’s installment in the Call of Duty series is sure to be popular this Christmas. The campaign features more open level design, allowing for 4 player cooperative gameplay. Get three of your like minded chums round this Christmas, and spend an afternoon on the sofa blowing stuff up.

7. Minecraft: Story Mode

Possibly the most curious title on this list, Minecraft: Story Mode does as it says on the tin. You play as Jesse, a character living in the Minecraft universe who goes on an adventure to save the world after a Wither is released upon it. Made by Telltale, it features the excellent storytelling and acting we’ve come to expect from their games, as well as several neat gameplay touches that are pulled directly from the source material.

8. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Finally, we have the sequel to the successful 2012 Tomb Raider reboot. As it’s exclusive to Xbox One for a short time, this title is Microsoft’s answer to the Playstation’s Uncharted franchise. However, that is selling Tomb Raider short, as let’s be honest, Nathan Drake picked up a few tricks from Lara Croft in the first place. Any budding treasure hunters are sure to not be disappointed with her latest adventure.

That’s our list, but did we miss anything off? Let us know in the comments if there’s a game you’re excited about this Christmas.

Kotaku vs. Games Publishers: Who’s In The Right?

On the 19th November, Kotaku wrote a now hugely shared and publicized piece about how they were blacklisted by both Bethseda and Ubisoft. Most likely prompted by the release of Fallout 4, which Kotaku reviewed after release, unlike other gaming news sites, they described how, after sharing pieces of leaked information, they were cut off by these companies. Now, they say, they no longer have early access to any of their games, are no longer invited to press events by them, and their calls are no longer returned.

When we see the kinds of things they reported on, it’s easy to see why. Kotaku picked up on the then unannounced Fallout 4, the development of Prey 2, and the serious troubles Doom 4 was facing. What company’s PR department would let a news website keep releasing information that paints them in a bad light?

Many agreed. Think pieces online, such as those from Breitbart, claim that Kotaku brought it upon themselves. If they publish information that hasn’t officially come from the source, but is more gossip and rumourmongering, then who else is there to blame? After all, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The Breitbart piece accuses Kotaku of trying to show they’re in the right, as it’s the ‘public’s right’ to know these things. If the news they’re trying to report is gaming rumours and insider gossip, then is it something the gaming public really needs to know? Eagle eyed Kotaku readers have also spotted that Penny Arcade has been removed from the site’s weekly comic round up, presumably because the site decided to comment on the issue and sided with the publishing companies. Are they really any better than the publishers who blacklisted them?

Others have jumped to Kotaku’s defence, however. Forbes Gaming and Ars Technica UK have both claimed that gaming journalists and publishers have a symbiotic relationship, where one can’t exist without the other. Perhaps Kotaku shouldn’t have reported on unofficial sources, they say, but the publishers should have known better than to blacklist them entirely. After all, you need the press to publicise your games, and Kotaku are one of the biggest gaming sites around.

You can try and pick the issue apart all you like, but it seems that no one is really in the right here. Kotaku have certainly painted themselves as the wronged party here, but an opposing argument, that gaming companies have the right to approve the news about their products that goes out to press, can easily be constructed. Then again, if gaming sites only take their information from approved sources, then how much news would we miss out on?

Either way, the blacklisting doesn’t seem to have hurt either Kotaku, Bethseda or Ubisoft. All three are giants in their fields. The real problem is when smaller sites, or indeed individuals, are blacklisted. Kotaku could survive such a thing, these sites wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves without such sources. The question now is whether publishers will think twice before blacklisting another journalist or site again.

In Defence of the ‘Smartphone Zombie’

It’s becoming a common complaint nowadays. Whenever you sit on a bus or train, there’s always people with their smartphone glued to their hand, glued to it for the whole journey. When you go out for a meal with friends, there’s always one who’s pulling their phone out of their pocket to check their emails and Facebook messages. Walking down the street, there’s somebody wandering along not looking where they’re going, because they’re too busy staring at the screen. In short, people are becoming addicted to their phones.

The media has had a lot to say about the rising issue of ‘Smartphone Zombies’. WND worries about the effect of constant smartphone use on children, citing a study that claims too much screen time can make children antisocial, and in extreme cases lead to jail time. While this information of course should be taken with a pinch of salt, it is true that we’re possibly spending an unhealthy amount of time with our phones.

Why is this? TechCrunch points out that smartphones have us more contactable than ever before. Through our phones, we can access email, social media, and the entire internet, as well as traditional calls and texts. They point out especially the rise of push notifications as a factor. Who hasn’t grabbed their handset as soon as they heard it ping, in case it was something important? Even better question, when was that notification so important you had to respond straight away?

In defence of the Smartphone Zombies, the way we interact with our phones has changed in recent years. As well as a phone, it’s a computer, an mp3 player, a games machine, and an e-book reader all rolled into one. If someone’s staring at their phone on the bus, they’re probably reading an article online, or reading the latest blockbuster novel. They’re not waiting in vain for a new notification on Twitter, as many people seem to believe.

Plus, the smartphone keeps us in touch more than ever before. People can keep in contact no matter where they are on the globe, thanks to social media. The argument that smartphones are ‘antisocial’ seems misguided at best, when we remember what social media actually does.

However, it is true that some people feel that they rely too much on their phones. The fear of being without your phone is widespread that it even has it’s own name, Nomophobia. If you feel that you’re too attached to your device, I Heart Berlin has some tips to help you wean yourself off. They recommend turning off some notifications, putting it on silent in social situations, or even putting it into a dedicated ‘mobile phone daycare’.

You may not need to go that far, but it is true that everything is best in moderation. Smartphones are an incredible invention and they can make our lives easier, but they can also impact them negatively as well. As long as you’re still paying attention to your friends and looking up while you’re walking down the street, you’re probably fine.

Fallout 4: The bugs, the bar and the smashed records

Even if you’re only vaguely connected to gaming culture, or even the internet in general, you’ll have heard about a little game called Fallout 4 hitting the stores this week.

Possibly the most anticipated game of the year, Fallout 4 was released on Wednesday and has already smashed records, eaten up hours of gamers’ free time, and probably broken your social media feeds. We round up all the important news about the latest installment in the nuclear wasteland themed series, so you don’t have to.

Records are smashed

As Tech Insider says, one day in Fallout 4 made gaming history. The game was owned by 1.2 million people in the first day of release, and broke the record for the most concurrent players online at any one time. As of its first day on sale, Fallout 4 hit 445,000 players online, smashing Grand Theft Auto V’s 300,000 players.

Performance issues

On the less positive side, players are experiencing problems with the quality of the game’s performance. As International Business Times reports, on consoles Fallout 4 can take an extremely long time to load up, and PS4 owners have said that the frame rate drops drastically when the player enters interior environments, sometimes dropping down to as low as 30fps. The frame rate also fluctuates when using scopes and weapons, making combat potentially laggy and frustrating. A troubleshooting guide has been made available on the official forums, but it only focuses on PC issues, leaving console gamers out in the cold.

Glitchy business

Bethseda are known for their glitches, and Fallout 4 hasn’t disappointed so far. With your faithful companion Dogmeat swimming in midair, companions getting themselves stuck in strange poses, and… whatever this is, there’s plenty to go around. This time though, there’s the potentially useful Infinite Caps glitch. If you’re short on caps and don’t mind breaking the game’s economy, try it out for yourself before it gets patched.

Character creation fun

The game’s been out all of five minutes, but players have been having some serious fun with the character creation mode. This Kotaku post covers some of the best character recreations we’ve seen so far, including Waluigi, Walter White, and Nigel Thornberry (obviously). However, if you were looking for the ugliest characters you can make, we’ve got you covered too.

Where everybody knows your name

If all of the above wasn’t enough, the entire ‘Cheers’ set has been recreated and inserted into the game, complete with Cliff and Norm’s skeletons hanging out on the bar. The jukebox doesn’t play the theme though, which is just criminal.

Nintendo Reveals Their First App Game – Miitomo

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced that it was finally going to dip it’s collective toe into the world of mobile gaming. Gamers all over the world became excited, as the possibilities of their favourite Nintendo titles showing up on their phones were explored. Who wouldn’t want to play a Mario or Zelda game on the move, right there on their mobile? It sounded like the perfect move for the company.

Late last month, we finally were told what Nintendo’s first mobile title would be. It was announced that ‘Miitomo’ will be the first title available on mobile platforms. Rather than using a popular and well loved character from their archives, it seems that Nintendo have gone with the Miis, the user generated avatars that have been in use on Nintendo consoles since the advent of the Wii.

Miitomo has more in common with social networks than a mobile app game. Players are first asked to create a Mii for themselves, and then are required to answer some simple questions about themselves, such as ‘What do you do on your day off?’ (Surely the answer would be, ‘Play Nintendo games?). People will be able to interact with each other through the app, although information won’t be shared unless two people are registered as friends’ with each other.

It’s not exactly what fans had been imagining, but it seems that Nintendo is nevertheless optimistic. President Tatsumi Kimishima is hopeful that the app will help people create closer friendships: ‘…you may be able to find out unknown aspects about your friends or unexpected commonalities you share with your friend because Miitomo may pick up on the topics you usually do not discuss but would be willing to answer if asked.’

Miitomo may well be able to do this, but it’s hard to imagine Nintendo making players answer hard hitting questions about social justice or their views on the current refugee crisis. Critics have so far been unimpressed to say the least with the announcement of Miitomo. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities has gone as far as to call the game a ‘disaster’, pointing out that it’s more of a social network than a game, and that his friends are more than likely to already know enough about it him without him answering the app’s questions.  

It does seem disappointing for Nintendo fans that this is the direction they’ve taken so far. Why not pull out the big guns first and show everybody what you’re capable of? With five games total currently on their way between 2016-17, it could be argued that they’re simply finding their way on mobile platforms first, before they start releasing the crowd pleasers. After all, it’d probably be better to fail on a new title first, rather than the first mobile Mario game.

The game will be released in Spring 2016, so there could possibly be more announcements to come about the game’s content. Until then, we’ll have to reserve judgement on whether Miitomo is a game at all.

Why DLC Isn’t As Evil As You Think It Is

DLC is almost a swear word amongst the gaming community, something that lazy game publishers roll out in order to squeeze some extra pennies from you and inject some extended play time into their games. When we’ve been faced with ridiculous DLC in the past, such as essentially useless horse armour in Oblivion, power ups in Dead Space 3, and new ‘Colour Packs’ for Street Fighter 3, it’s easy to see why DLC is seen as evidence of the industry’s greed.

However, while reading 10 Big Myths About Video Games, Debunked by the People Who Make Them, I was surprised to learn just how DLC can hold a gaming development team together. Elizabeth Zelle told Kotaku:

‘In the past you would see large layoffs when a game submitted because there simply wasn’t any more work for a lot of the devs on a team. The same studio would start hiring back up months later when their next project got to the point of needing a large team again. DLC production, the employment it provides devs, and the bonus income it generates to pay them works to keep game studios out of the layoff-hire back cycles and lets game devs enjoy a more stable life.’

Most gamers, myself included, could honestly say that they never really thought about the livelihood of dame developers before now. Surely once they were hired on by a company, they stayed there? Clearly, that isn’t so. In a global economy where a job for life no longer exists, why did we expect the situation to be any different for them?

DLC, then, serves a higher purpose than simply making more money. When funds are generated through DLC sales, staff can be kept on and producers save time and money in re-hiring every time they need a new dev team.

Of course, this doesn’t help when the DLC put out feels lazy and exploitative, like the above examples. However, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t always the case. The ‘Old World Blues’ expansion for Fallout 3, ‘The Knife of Dunwall’ and ‘Brigmore Witches’ packs for Dishonored, and the ‘Minerva’s Den’ expansion for Bioshock 2 – a personal favourite – meant that these games were given more room to grow and let the player explore their stories, or even let them tell new stories altogether. When done well, good DLC can make it worth your while to buy the full game itself.

When done properly, DLC can be a win-win situation for everybody involved. Gamers get new, quality content for the games they love, and game developers get to enjoy a more stable work environment, therefore being able to put all their energies into creating quality games. When game development is such a specialised skill, it only seems fair that they’re allowed to stay in one job, rather than having to bounce around looking for work once their current project is over. Hopefully we’ll start seeing new developments in DLC soon, with expansions that’ll both keep talented devs working and give gamers more quality content.