Mike Haynes

Mike Haynes

Mike Haynes

A new website for Dialog

I've been under the weather for the past couple days so I took the time to redesign a few older projects and get them pushed up to Gitlab.

Namely, I updated the Dialog landing page and moved it over to my site as a subdomain. While I was doing this, I took the time to update the app icon to the new spec Google introduced last year. I know it's not the update many were hoping for, but it's something.

I'd love to continue work on the app if I found the right partner to join me, so anything is possible. For now, this will have to do.

Old code

It's always fun when you format your computer, forget to backup a current version of your website, make a change, and blow away a week's worth of work. What, just me?

Xbox Game Pass, xCloud, and the future of gaming at Microsoft

Tom Warren for The Verge:

Microsoft wants to build the Netflix for video games, and early indications show that its bet is already starting to pay off with 10 million subscribers. Some developers are also reporting increases in game sales and more players, and Microsoft has some big plans ahead with xCloud for Game Pass — particularly around the ability to instantly play games or demos.‌‌‌‌

[...]‌‌‌‌

We now know Microsoft’s plans for Xbox Series X and Xbox Game Pass content over the next couple of years, but there’s more needed to demonstrate why “the world’s most powerful console” matters.

Looking back at last week's Xbox event and even the one before that, it seems like everything was done out of order. If anything, there should have been an entire event devoted to Game Pass and xCloud, letting people see how it works and all the stuff you get with it. After that, a hardware reveal that shows people what they can get to have the best Game Pass experience. One high-end device for a premium experience, and one with a cheaper price tag for everyone else.

Instead, Microsoft keeps talking about the Xbox Series X like it's going toe-to-toe with the PS5 which, it many ways, it isn't. This is confusing and seems like it'll be a quick way to waste a ton of money producing and marketing a device that people don't understand the potential importance of to Microsoft's larger vision.

Xbox Game Pass and xCloud are the future of gaming at Microsoft. I just wish they were better able to communicate that to the world instead of muddying it up with typical console-vs-console mumbo jumbo.

The Xbox is still confusing

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X

Andy Robinson for VGC:

Responding to the confusion on Twitter, Xbox marketing boss Aaron Greenberg claimed that all first-party games are being developed for Xbox Series X “first” and that it is up to studios to decide if they also release for Xbox One.

[...]

In a frank discussion with GamesIndustry.biz this month, Spencer went even further by stating that he believed generational exclusives were “completely counter to what gaming is about.”

Much surrounding the new Xbox is still very confusing to me. From the name and possible variations in hardware, to the exclusivity of games, to how the xCloud service fits into all this, etc. It seems like either something is getting lost in translation during these events and interviews, or one arm isn't talking to the other.

Sony has set clear expectations for the PS5. Here is the hardware. Here are the games. They're not reinventing the wheel but it's easy to wrap your head around it all. I understand what I need to get up and running. With the Xbox, it feels overly complicated and could end up costing them users if they don't nail down the pitch.

As for yesterday's event, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, As Dusk Falls, and State of Decay 3 all caught my eye but I'll be playing them on PC, likely via Xbox Game Pass.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Nintendo:

Lost in a sea of clouds, entire civilizations rest on the backs of Titans. As the giant beasts march toward death, the last hope is a scavenger named Rex—and Pyra, a living weapon known as a Blade. Can you find the fabled paradise she calls home? Command a group of Blades and lead them to countless strategic victories before the world ends.

I wasn't initially drawn in by Xenoblade 2 the first time I played it but playing through the first game — including the Future Connected DLC — has given me an entirely new perspective on the series and pushed me to give this game another shot.

I notice and appreciate most of the upgrades Monolithsoft made from the first game to the second. The sidequests feel more relevent than many that appeared in the original, the combat feels better and more refined in most ways, and the zones feel more naturally connected to one another. All this is to say that i'm having a much better experience the second time around.

Elkhorn Resort weekend

Elkhorn Resort weekend

Thinking back to the nice weekend the family and I had back in June at Elkhorn Resort, including a stop at Clear Lake to enjoy some delicious blueberry beer.

Marvel reveals Timeless Alex Ross covers

Joe Grunenwald for The Beat:

In September offerings, Marvel is kicking off their “Timeless” line of variant covers featuring character portraits by acclaimed artist Alex Ross. Now the publisher has revealed even more Ross Timeless variant covers for release along with their October 2020 offerings. The fourteen new covers will accompany issues of Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Shang Chi, and many more.

These covers, like all of Alex Ross' prior work, look incredible. It's hard to believe this is coming from the same publisher that thought these were a good idea.

King and Fornés bring Rorschach to DC Black Label in October

King and Fornés bring Rorschach to DC Black Label in October

DC Comics:

DC proudly presents a new 12-issue maxiseries debuting this October by Tom King (Mister Miracle) and Jorge Fornés (Batman), together delivering a new vision of one of the most riveting characters from Watchmen—a figure in a fedora and a trench coat, loved by some, reviled by others—Rorschach.

It’s been 35 years since Ozymandias was exposed for dropping a giant telepathic squid on New York City, killing thousands and ending the public’s trust in heroes once and for all. The Minutemen are gone; only their memory lives on. Especially the infamy of Rorschach, who has become a cultural icon since Dr. Manhattan turned him to dust.

I'm so excited to read this. King's work on similar books for Vision and Mister Miracle is considered by many to be career-defining. With Rorschach's history, and the excellent art of Jorge Fornés, this book could be yet another slam-dunk.

I'm happy that, like the recent Strange Adventures by King, Gerads, and Shaner, this new book will be part of DC's Black Label line. It just wouldn't be right to see a darker, grittier character like Rorschach fitting into DC's main, more family-friendly line.

If you're not familiar with artist Jorge Fornés, I highly recommend giving his work a look. He worked with Tom King on Batman (#67, 71–72, 84) and Daredevil (#16–18) over at Marvel with writer/artist Chip Zdarsky. Based on his previous work and the art we've seen so far, I can't think of a better artist for this book.

Mark your calendar for this one. The first issue ships in October.

Deadly Premonition 2 sounds broken, bizarre, and... amazing?

Francis York Morgan enjoying some damn fine coffee
Francis York Morgan enjoying some damn fine coffee

Dave Tach for Polygon:

So I wrap up the first big section of Deadly Premonition 2 the other day, and a few hours later, I boot up the PS4 to get back into The Last of Us Part 2. Within a couple of minutes, two things happen. I keep looking up instead of down, and down instead of up, because I’ve played so damn much Deadly Premonition 2 that I’m now confused about my preferred inverted effing y-axis. Also, I kind of think I’d rather be playing Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise.

When the original Deadly Premonition came out years ago, I didn't "get it". It was weird, and felt like it was constantly hitting the punchline of a joke without any sort of lead up. It just didn't make sense to me, despite all the praise that seemed to be coming in for it.

Years later, having played the game myself, and enjoyed Twin Peaks in all its insane, amazing glory, I can really appreciate whatever the Deadly Premonition series is. In fact, I rebought the game on the Switch and plan on getting back through it again soon.

This is all to say that I got my copy of Deadly Premonition 2 as well this past weekend and can't wait to get started playing once I wrap my playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles. I love the idea of people playing DP2 instead of other, higher profile games available right now. 😈

Site updates

I went on an absolute rampage over the past few days tackling a number of projects on my blog like accessibility improvements, a new footer, styling code snippets in posts, and fixing how posts without titles appear in feeds.