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Microsoft developing a new controller for the less able gamer: Meet the Xbox Adaptive Controller

As a gaming-orientated radio station whose listener and staffing base incorporates many people with disabilities both physical and mental, we at Sanitarium.FM champion any attempt by a major corporation to create technology that caters for the less able user. For that reason, when we heard that Microsoft have unveiled an Xbox One controller designed with the differently-abled in mind, we knew this was something we had to take a look at.

 

A picture of the XBox Adaptive Controller

Officially named the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft’s latest creation – which will actually support both XBox and Windows PCs – is billed as ‘the most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company’. As Microsoft tells it, When a customised controller from non-profit veterans’ organisation Warfighter Engaged caught the eye of a Microsoft engineer back in 2014, Microsoft decided to create its own disability-friendly controller for the following year’s Hackathon, which is where this project began. Refinements followed a year later; but it was the release of the Copilot function – which allows two Xbox One controllers to be treated as a single controller – that led Microsoft to declare their new controller concept ready for launch.

 

In fact, Copilot is actually the key to how this new controller becomes adaptable for a wide range of disabilities. Designed to be used on a desktop surface, the Xbox Adaptive Controller features all number of ports to allow additional controllers, headsets, switches and other assistive devices to expand on its base capabilities, allowing a user to create a custom gaming solution whereby a user can combine many different controls into a workable solution for their own body. The ports are labelled such that the user doesn’t need to turn or pick up the device to see what goes where; and each controller can function as one or more physical buttons according to the user’s needs. The Adaptive Controller itself sports two giant buttons, mapped to the A and B of a standard Xbox controller and with enough spacing to allow a hand to rest in between; along with a D-Pad and other smaller control buttons to the left side.

 

Microsoft have explained the full story behind the controller on their Story Labs, which also gives further details about the upcoming product. The Xbox Adaptive Controller will launch later this year, and will retail for $100 in the US, which is likely to translate to around £100 in the UK after the inclusion of VAT.


May 17th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Technology, Xbox | No Comments »

Microsoft announce Surface Hub 2

Two years ago, Microsoft raised eyebrows when it unveiled the Surface Hub, a digital whiteboard that could handle anything from video conferences, to a shared workspace for working on documents. Despite being plagued with numerous delays to launch and being ridiculously expensive (exceeding $11,000 for even the smaller model plus stand), Microsoft now claims that there are 5,000 companies using Surface Hubs, including half of Fortune 100 companies – and apparently, sales have been good enough for Microsoft to announce a second version is in the works.

 

 

Details are currently scarce regarding the Surface Hub 2, which isn’t planned to retail until 2019; although “selected customers” will be able to test the device later this year. At it’s heart, however, the new Hub is still a gigantic touchscreen-enabled display, which will run Windows 10 and support the Surface Pen. It also has thinner bezels, making it look more like a modern flatscreen TV, albeit one with a wider-than-average 3:2 aspect ratio. Surprisingly, it appears the built-in webcam is also out, meaning you’ll now need to plug in your own to start video conferences – which strikes us an odd move.

 

Microsoft appear to be targeting the new Surface Hub as having more potential uses, with the thinner form factor making it easier to create a wall of surface hubs for wide digital displays. To that end, the company has released a Youtube video introducing the Hub 2, which shows off a number of interesting use concepts:

 

 

The device also contains a fingerprint sensor, so each user can protect their documents and data behind their own accounts and login with just a touch.

 

No information is currently available on pricing or technical specifications. We’ll have more news when we get it!


May 16th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in General, Technology | No Comments »

Nintendo Unveil Details for Nintendo Switch Online Service

A lot later than originally expected, earlier this week Nintendo of America finally unveiled the details of Nintendo Switch Online, the paid online service for their popular Nintendo Switch console.

 

 

In case you missed it, a little background. Around the time Nintendo launched the Nintendo Switch console, it was announced that the console would receive a paid online service which would enable online play in supported games, as well as voice chat and a slew of other features. Nintendo had originally suggested this service would be ready within the first year of the console’s life; and pledged that Switch owners would be able to play online for free until the service launched. Things obviously took a lot longer, however; but now, thanks to the official Switch page on Nintendo of America’s website, we have all the details for the planned service, which launches in September 2018

 

First of all, remember the special version of Street Fighter II Nintendo launched for the Switch, which was modified to include support for Online Play? Turns out, that’s not a one-off. As part of the upcoming Nintendo Switch Online service, Nintendo has announced Nintendo Entertainment System™ – Nintendo Switch Online, a special perk for paid subscribers which promises a selection of “20 NES games with added online play for the first time ever, and more games added regularly.” These launch titles include:

  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Donkey Kong™
  • Mario Bros.™
  • Super Mario Bros.™
  • Balloon Fight™
  • Ice Climber™
  • Dr. Mario™
  • The Legend of Zelda™
  • Super Mario Bros.™ 3
  • …And more to be revealed!

With online play added to every classic game, you can compete (or cooperate) online with friends, share your screen, or pass the controller, depending on the game. With the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, you can also voice chat during your play sessions.

Nintendo

 

Another piece of news that will likely delight Switch owners: Nintendo is finally planning to implement Save Data Cloud Backups to the Switch – though again, this will be a subscriber-only feature. Though Nintendo has yet to reveal exact details, the website promises more details will be made available “before the paid service launches in September.”

 

Of course, the real point of online services on a modern console is modern online play; and here’s where the disappointing news begins. As Nintendo had already announced, while Online Play will remain free for now, once Nintendo Switch Online launches in September, paid subscriptions will be required to play online in many first- and second-party Nintendo Switch titles – with a confirmed list so far of Splatoon™ 2, ARMS™, Mario Kart™ 8 Deluxe, Mario Tennis™ Aces, and Sushi Striker™: The Way of Sushido. To their credit, Nintendo do state that the service may not apply to all Switch games – third-party developers are free to choose how they wish to implement their online features. Also going behind Nintendo’s paywall is the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, which will also be required for voice chat.

 

Nintendo have been careful to state, however, that not subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online will not cripple the capabilities of your Switch console. Non-subscribers will still receive console and software updates as usual; and will also retain access to the Nintendo eShop, Friends List (including registering and managing friends), and Parental Controls; and will still be able to share in-game screenshots to their social media.

 

So what’s the cost? Nintendo have unveiled four pricing tiers for the Nintendo Online Service, which you will be able to purchase through their website, in-console via the Nintendo eShop, or through select retailers once the service launches. The first three cover individuals. Each Nintendo Account holder can purchase a month of Individual membership to the Nintendo Online Service for $3.99 USD; or lengthen their subscriptions to 3 or 12 months for the reduced prices of $7.99 USD or $19.99 USD respectively. Each Individual membership is valid for one account only.

 

The other option, called “Family membership”, is tailored specifically for larger families with individual accounts for each person. For $34.99 USD, a household can purchase a 12-month subscription for a maximum of eight Nintendo Network accounts, by first activating the subscription on one account and then inviting the others to a family group.

 

There’s one last perk that might swing a few of you still on the fence about purchasing Nintendo Switch Online. Nintendo have promised that subscribers will also be entitled to future special offers from Nintendo that will not be available to non-subcribers, with details “to be revealed”. It remains to be seen how tempting these offers will be, but it’s fair to say – Nintendo is really trying hard to make paid online attractive to as many Switch owners as it can.


May 9th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Nintendo | No Comments »

Multiplatform Review: Bridge Constructor: Portal

Enter the Aperture Science Enrichment Center and experience Bridge Constructor Portal – the unique merging of the classic Portal™ and Bridge Constructor™ games.

 

 

Deep within the test chambers of Aperture Science, a new branch of research and development is initiated. Welcome, Trainee, to Bridge Constructor: Portal.

 

From developers, ClockStone Studio, and published by HeadUp Games, comes a new addition to the puzzle-based universe of Portal.

 

 

The task is simple enough. Build a bridge to guide forklifts, transporting obviously important Aperture Science Sciencing Materials, from a starting position, to an end position.

 

The challenge comes from an increasingly abstract level layout, alternating start and end positions, adversarial gun turrets, and of course, the iconic portals.

 

The level progression moves at a comfortable pace, which provides a good opportunity to practice each time a new element is added to the game.

 

There are 60 test chambers to work your way through, with two levels of challenge; build a construct that will handle a single truck, or put your engineering abilities to the test, and successfully help a convoy of trucks traverse the chamber!

 

 

A vaguely wobbly bridge might suffice for a single truck, but that wobble might throw off the trajectory of the third driver of the convoy, or there might be insufficient support in your build, and the whole thing might come crashing down; sending you straight back to the drawing board!

 

Aesthetically, the game takes much of it’s style from the Aperture Science infomercials that introduced new mechanics in Portal 2, and it adds a unique charm to the game that instantly makes you feel like you’re back in the Aperture testing chambers.

 

Tutorial assistance, and comments from GLaDOS further add to the game’s appeal.

 

The user interface is minimalistic, yet incredibly functional, with controls that are easy to master, and in the main menu, there is a section for additional tips to improve your constructions.

 

 

Available on Steam, Mac, PS4, XBox One, Switch, and Mobile devices; Bridge Constructor: Portal is a well-designed, easily accessible, and ingenious little game, full of charm, and challenge, that is well worth checking out if you enjoy physics puzzles, or are a fan of the games that preceded this one.

 

It’s a perfect blend of the Bridge Constructor series, and the unique sci-fi world of Portal!

 

Bridge Constructor: Portal is available now on –

STEAM

https://store.steampowered.com/app/684410/Bridge_Constructor_Portal/

Playstation 4

https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0825-CUSA09729_00-BRIDPORPS4SCEA00

XBox One

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/store/p/bridge-constructor-portal/bnrx1dn6gxm6

Switch

https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Bridge-Constructor-Portal-1342894.html

 

Just remember that the cake, and the bridge, is a lie.

8.5/10 ~Captain Meatshield


April 27th, 2018 by
Posted in Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Real Time Strategy, Xbox | No Comments »

Tomb Raider Remaster Canned

What was old is once again new, HD remasters and remakes have been a thing for many years, with many games taking years to develop, produce and port to other gaming consoles including PC ports, plus with technology advancing so rapidly in that time, many studios release “ultimate editions” of their games a few years later with upgraded HD graphics, but fans still cry out for the classic games of their childhoods, it was only a matter of time before the studios took notice, having the rights to the games and a built in fanbase, HD remasters are a fairly sure bet when handled correctly (such as the recent Crash Bandicoot and Shadow of the Colossus remasters), and with the recent release of the Tomb Raider film adaption, it seemed like the perfect time for Lara Croft’s original adventures to receive a long overdue makeover.

 

Test footage released by Realtech VR the third party company in charge of the remaster, seemed to be well received, so why was the remaster canned? Well the simple answer is, because it wasn’t sanctioned by IP holders Square Enix, it seems wires must have been crossed somewhere as all the work done on remastering the early Tomb Raider adventures, was done without the knowledge of the studio that own the rights.

 

The official statement released by Square Enix is as follows “While we always welcome passion and excitement for the Tomb Raider franchise, the remasters in question were initiated and advertised without seeking approval. As such, they were never officially sanctioned, ensuring fans receive high quality gaming experiences is at the heart of our mission as a company, which requires all projects to go through proper channels.”

 

As per their statement, Square Enix have not ruled out a remaster for their iconic heroine, and the time still appears right to push forward on one, assuming the next company to try, actually gets permission first, it is said “it is far easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission” but as true as that statement can be, when it comes to copyright law, playing it safe is always the best option.


April 26th, 2018 by TGB_SirhcAndAr0n
Posted in Gaming, General, PC | No Comments »

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