Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, Jan. 7th
Once upon a time, in the first Golden Age, all eyes in the gaming world turned each January to the City of Sin for it was there that the future was revealed. The great festival CES drew in the attention of Electronics Consumers from around the world in a grand Show of new wares.
That was before the Age of E3, the Exposition which the gaming oracles took as their own scared ground for Electronic Entertainment.
But lo! In the Two Thousand and Fourteenth Year of the Common Era the endlessly carpeted hallways and strangely perfumed suites of Las Vegas have once again become the center of the gaming realm. A vision of the future filling the scrying glass of gamers across the land.
Amidst the plastic wonders, intelligent chronometers and delightful antics of the famed gentry on display in the City of Sin three great tales have emerged from the mêlée.
The Tale of Now
Since the last great gathering of the gaming clans at E3 nobles and commoners alike have waited with baited breath for word of what the great wizards of House Sony intended to do with the Gaikai amulet. Purchased at a dear price from the Market of Stock, the Gaikai amulet and the sorcerers who forged it were brought into House Sony with great fanfare and then… silence.
The power of the Gaikai amulet is such that any game of video may be magically streamed from the Mystic Cloud directly to a scrying glass, provided that a copy of the amulet has been physically linked to that glass. The promise was clear to partisans of House Sony, indeed to all the citizens of the gaming kingdom: any device built by House Sony would be able to stream games in the same manner that moving picture shows are delivered by House Netflix.
Much like House Netflix there are bound to be issues with this magic. We are all dependent on the whims of the fickle masters of the Mystic Cloud, who are known for drying up a stream right when a body gets to the best part of Scullery Nightmares.
Speaking of the Gaikai amulet’s imminent appearance the Knights of Polygon sent this message in the Gaming Tongue to their squires of what House Sony calls “PlayStation Now”:
Users will be able to rent individual games or pay for subscription plans. In addition to PlayStation devices, the service will be available on most of Sony’s 2014 Bravia televisions, and eventually, devices such as smartphones.
PlayStation Now will initially be available on PS4 and PS3, and later on PS Vita, according to a press release from Sony. The service will support functionality such as multiplayer gaming and PlayStation Network messages and Trophies.
The Tale of The Machine of Steam
Few gaming wizards are as revered or feared as the sorcerer known as The Gaben. Speaker for the theurge Valve Collective–known for their rejection of traditional magical managerial hierarchies–The Gaben appeared briefly to detail the “Steam Machines” they have promised to their loyal followers.
The Valve Collective will not forge any of the devices themselves, but have instead elected to join forces with members of the Hardware Guilds to create a range of artifacts of varying degrees of mystic power. In short: you will get what you pay for.
Whether or not the less expensive devices will best the power on display in the wares of House Sony and House Microsoft has yet to be tested. There can be little doubt, however, that the abilities of the more dearly priced Steam Machines will eclipse those offerings.
The technically inclined may wish to peruse this writ of specifications provided by the magi of Ars Technica, who have also frozen in time the likenesses of the first crop of Machines.
The Tale of The Rift
Your eyes do not device you, faithful pilgrim. The legendary Oculus Rift–spoken of in tones both hushed and boisterous by those who work, those who fight, and those who pray alike–has made another appearance.
Like the Sword in the Stone and the Holy Graal, the Rift is an object of great power, coveted by many. Legend speaks of the power of the artifact, which takes the form of a mask, to immerse the wielder in another world.
Unlike Excaliber, however, each appearance of the Rift has been different. The enchanted, some fear accursed, object grows in power with every passing day. Whereas the last appearance of the Rift transported the one who wore it into an even more beautiful realm, it still trapped the wearer into a limited range of motion.
One could turn one’s head left and right, and look up and down, but leaning forward did not alter the view. Oftentimes a sudden turn of the head would throw the wielder out of synch with the other realm. The Order of Oculus has addressed this problems with the Rift they now present, one surely drawn from a distant future by acts of strange chronomancy.
Lord Peter Rubin of Wiredshire visited with the Oculus Order and bore witness to the form the Rift takes now, which the Order insists on referring to as “Crystal Cove”:
It utilizes an “outside-in” system: an externally mounted camera tracks small LED lights on the prototype’s faceplate, adding three “degrees of freedom” (forward/backward, left/right, and up/down) to the Rift’s tracking ability. Up until now, developers and early Oculus adopters have only been able to accomplish this by taping a Razer Hydra motion controller to the side of their Rift headsets.
The Order has declared that the Rift now has a mystic “AMOLED screen,” but once again refuse to reveal where this magic came from.
Lord Rubin writes that the Rift should embrace the temples of humble Consumers sometime this year. Soon noble and commoner alike will be able to leave this dreary plane and become lost in the realm of the Pix-Els.
The Legend Continues
The festival fires have not yet been extinguished, and more Great Works may yet be revealed. The final victors amidst the lists will be tallied anon, but one victory is already clear: the festival of CES has once again taken up the place of prominence in the hearts of the men and women of the realm.
May the tradition continue to be honored every year.