Announcements Ahoy, Mon Capitan

OS X El Capitan

This year’s OS X release isn’t going to be the overhaul like Yosemite was. El Capitan will offer fixes, refinements and other nice but not so sexy changes.

I welcome it. I welcome features like Expose side-by-side so I can stop using BetterTouchTool for the sole purpose of including Windows Snap.

I look forward to Metal, Apple’s low-level API, improving rendering performance across the board. I don’t play graphically intensive games on my MacBook Air but hopefully this gives the user base fewer reasons to switch over to Windows just to play games.

I’m hoping OS X El Capitan breathes new life into my MacBook Air like Mavericks did with its power optimizations.

iOS 9

Unsurprisingly, iOS 9 looks to follow El Capitan’s lead and focus on refinements and improvements to performance, battery life, security and usability.

I use Siri regularly for sports and weather updates. On occasion, I ask her to figure out the name of a song or some trivia but her accuracy remains so suspect that I tend to stick to the basic inquiries. Apple promises to address accuracy and capabilties but I’ll believe it when I see it. The day, I don’t feel the need to launch Google Search for reliable voice inquiries is the day I’ll consider Siri a dependable digital assistant.

Apple continues its trend of adopting popular ideas into its own apps and gently pushing out competition. Notes and News apps were their latest efforts. They gave Notes additional word processing capabilities for simple note taking and News (rebranded Newsstand) is now a Flipboard clone.

My favorite iOS device isn’t the iPhone. It’s the iPad and Apple finally gave it some love with the addition of multi-tasking and a new shortcut bar that sits on-top of the keyboard. Fortunately, I have an iPad Air 2 which supports the new multi-tasking functionality. But if I was an iPad Air user, I’d feel a little miffed knowing that a key feature like multi-tasking won’t be making back to mine. I understand the limitations (the Air 2 has 2GB of RAM) but not everyone will.

And the Rest

WatchOS 2 is coming as well and I know exactly one person who’s excited by that announcement. The native app support is a step in the right direction. I’m curious what developers will come up with in that space. I doubt they can make the thing appealing to me though.

Apple Music is now a thing. If the likes of Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services aren’t to your liking, maybe give Apple Music a try? They’ve hired humans to make a 24/7 radio station a reality. No idea how that radio station will fare Apple promises it’ll be better than having algorithms select the music.

I didn’t know what to expect from Apple Music but it wasn’t whatever they announced. Jimmy Iovine started by pointing out all the streaming services available and how it’s fragmented. I thought that was going to a segue into a Wallet (they renamed Passbook) or News app amalgamation app but for music. That would have been a logistical nightmare but that would have been nice.

Pre-E3 Announcements Continues

  • 1TB Xbox One Console will take over at $399.99 USD
  • New Xbox One controller revision features wireless updates, 3.5mm audio jack & minor refinements. Costs $64.99 USD
  • Xbox One wireless adapter for Windows will be available in autumn. Will cost $24.99 USD
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will see the light of day in Q1 2016
  • Halo 5: Guardians will have 20 maps at launch & 15 free maps by June 2016
  • Dark Souls 3 will be available in early 2016
  • Marshawn Lynch will be in Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • Call of Duty lives for another year on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360

Thought of the Day

As soon as I saw what 2015’s OS X release was called El Capitan, I thought of Q and Captain Picard.

Checkpoint: Betting on Black Edition

I guess those early leaks forced Activision’s hand because Call of Duty: Black Ops III was announced earlier today. I liked Treyarch’s Black Ops’ series quite a bit. Treyarch always seemed to be willing to go the extra mile to create something different in both the campaign and multiplayer halves of the game.

IGN have the exclusive preview but here are some high level notables:

  • Exclusive to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
  • 4-player co-op (2 player offline) for the campaign
  • There are 9 fixed classes called Specialists with specific powers and weapons.
  • Zombies mode will have XP progression
  • Multiplayer movement is more refined with wall running and power slides
  • There will be a beta

A beta? That’s the first beta since Modern Warfare. Pre-ordering will be the key to access.

I’m looking forward to this. I enjoyed what I played of Advanced Warfare but it never stuck with me. I’m hoping Black Ops III will be different. At the very least, the co-op and campaign modes should keep me satisfied.

Speaking of movement, there have been a lot of wall running and rail grinding as I make my way through Sunset Overdrive. inFamous: Second Son may be superior on a technical level but I love the aesthetic that Insomniac Games employed. It’s such a fun style that compliments the gameplay mechanics so well.

Game of the Year 2014 Day 1 of 3

I didn’t think I’d play enough good games to form a top 10 this year. Part of it was due to me being cheap and waiting for games to drop to the price point I was willing to pay. The other being the fact that I chose some less than stellar titles earlier this year. However, with a bit of luck, some sales and good decisions, I found ten titles that  worth listing.

But first some other awards!

The 2014 Game I Wish I Bought & Played in 2014

Winner: Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein - The New Order Box Art

I saw it for $30 but decided to wait and it never fell in price. I’m a fan of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and a fan of many of the ex-Starbreeze members who founded MachineGames. Those guys made the excellent Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. I heard nothing but positive impressions about it and if I weren’t such a cheap ass, it may have made it onto my top 10. But alas, it’ll have to settle for this consolation prize.

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Savestate: AAA Sky Falls

Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch

AAA games faltering

DRIVECLUB, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity are still suffering from technical issues. They have networking issues, graphical glitches, performance drops and sometimes a combination of all the above. And these are just the high profile titles that have severe issues. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has its own controversy over dedicated servers but it’s being overshadowed.

Instead of dwelling on what is happening, I want to know why this is happening. The easy answer is to blame aggressive publishers that want to make holidays. But we’ve seen plenty of publishers make those timelines in the past.

What’s changed for this year?

Although we’re technically a year into the newest generation of consoles, we’re still not out of the woods yet with regards to console transition issues. Seven years ago, the first Assassin’s Creed debuted to horrible framerate issues and bugs as well.

In the case of DRIVECLUB, you can chalk this up to inexperience with networking. For the folks at 343 Industries, I can’t imagine it’s easy to get four titles humming along nicely (even if they’re remasters).

These are just excuses that I’m making up for these developers. They’re not going to tell us why these games are broken but they’ll continue to ask for forgiveness and patience while you wait.

Consumers are paying money for working products and if they can’t deliver a working product within the launch window, they should be eligible for refunds. It might be tough to convince a retailer to take back an opened game, but those who’ve purchased titles from Sony or Microsoft’s digital stores should receive a refund if they so desire.

Also, thank goodness for built-in recording and screenshot functionality.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack #1

Over at Nintendo’s little island of fun awaits Mario Kart 8’s first DLC pack. I bought it the dual pack and look forward to trying the new content. I just don’t know if it’s going to be sooner or later.

Random Thought of the Week

I’m addicted to Florida Natural Fruit Snacks.

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