The Fate of The Bookstore

I have fond memories of bookstores.

As a child I would actively seek out bookstores and when I could go inside of one, I would rush the aisles, taking in the scent of the printed page. There was a magic to it, the colors, the titles, thousands of worlds tucked into shelves, waiting to be opened.

That magic has since gone, or that’s how the market is interpreting this mass controversy of where bookstores are headed in the digital age.

In the current day, everyone has a virtual bookstore in their pocket, no one truly needs the bookstore anymore yet it still survives, at least for now.

In 2014, electronic book sales rose to $11 billion dollars while Barnes & Nobles bookstores stagnated and fell off to $4 billion dollars.

That was in 2014.

In January 2017, sales at physical bookstores went down 1.9 percent according to a study by American Booksellers Association.

So where is the book business heading?

It is likely that bookstores will be around for a long time, the decrease in sales is a slow one but even so, it is an apocalypse for booksellers, just waiting to happen.

One day, bookstores will likely become antique shops to a medium foregone by digital media such as e-books and audio-books.

Imagine having to travel an hour to the only bookstore in New York and wandering in, to only find stacks upon stacks of unorganized and fairly expensive books, marketed not as books, but as antiques.

With companies adopting subscription models with promise of deliverance near unlimited books or audio, it is going to be hard to compete.

Luckily for Barnes & Noble, it still has its Nook series and plenty of online e-book presence in the world of book sales.

Time can only tell if this will be enough.

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‘Jurassic Park Alive’ Brings Dinosaurs To The Real World

Augmented reality games are taking mobile app stores by storm this year as franchises like Harry Potter, Ghostbusters, Maguss, and now Jurassic Park.

Players will assume the role of a Dinosaur Protection Group (DPG) member tasked with saving dinosaurs from a second extinction.

Unlike other AR games that require the user to travel in the real world, ‘Alive’ will let players send out a drone to collect DNA samples.

The game will take on a realistic approach to collecting dinosaurs with players using location-based technology to track and observe dinosaurs habits in their natural habitats.

Users Collect rare and powerful breeds of dinosaur by flying a virtual drone in-game, and collecting DNA samples to maintain a full roster of dinosaurs in hand.

Battles will take place between dinosaur ‘strike teams’.

Collectible items will come in the form of supply drops which will contains in-game currency or things like battery life for the drone.

The game is set to release this spring according to a trailer released by Ludia, the developer of the game.

Interested dinosaur wranglers can pre-register here.

Dow Jones Takes A Hit On Market Opening Amid Tariff Threats

The stock market ticker is red across the board this morning as investors wait with bated breath for news on Trumps final decision regarding the Tariffs he wants the U.S. to impose on imported metals.

Dow Jones Industrial Average took a hit this pre-market morning after President Donald

Trump announced that the U.S. will begin imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

The dow took a dip of 0.29% over the weekend losing the stock 70.92 points in the market as the industry decides how Trump’s tariff will affect manufacturing in the U.S.

S&P 500 is down 0.45% this morning and NASDAQ is down 0.26% following this news.

The market value may rise this morning after Trump announced the Tariffs may be lifted if proper negotiations can be met with NAFTA.

“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” Trump said on Twitter.

Trump said negotiations are underway and he will lift the Tariffs, at least for Canada and

Mexico if these renegotiations are met well.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will begin to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, a move many are deeming detrimental to american consumers and businesses.

Trump said he would impose a 25% tariff on imports of steel and a 10% tariff on imports of aluminum.

The move was made to boost the U.S. steel industry but it could prove to be a hurdle for businesses that use imported steel and for the consumers who purchase products made with that steel.

The problem? Steel manufactured in the U.S. will be more expensive for businesses.

Businesses that rely on these imports to provide easily accessible products will be hit the most by these tariffs.

The beer manufacturing industry will see an increase of $347.7 million dollars added to their manufacturing costs.

The tariffs could affect consumers in several different ways, the most concerning is if businesses pass the increased production costs onto consumers.

This increase in product cost could cause a major slowdown in consumer spending and result in inflation.

Car consumers are likely to spend almost $200 dollars more for a vehicle if these tariffs are passed.

Investors can only hope that Trump will decide to lower his gaurd on the 
Tariffs and allow steel to be imported without the extra cost.

How Virtual Reality Could Change The Face Of Film

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Imagine, a young moviegoer buys his ticket, gets his popcorn, and claims his seat in front of the screen displaying ads for snack bundles, movie ticket discounts and local commercials.

Instead of watching the screen, however, the young man puts on a helmet, straps into his seat and dives into the world of the film in virtual reality, or VR.

The scent of grass wafts through his nostrils as he arrives in the grassy plains of what seems to be a prehistoric age area. In the distance he can see dinosaurs chewing leaves from trees, enormously long necks and some smaller creatures prancing through the tall grass.

He can hear the sounds of the dinosaurs all around him and he swears he can feel the vibrations of their footsteps echoing in his head.

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Suddenly, the shadow of a larger dinosaur casts over him. He turns his head to look at what it is thats looming over his virtual body, there a Tyrannosauraus Rex, jaw wide, teeth dripping in saliva stares at him nearly eye to eye.

He turns his head, hoping the creature will go away, and when he turns back, the creature is gone, distracted by the characters of the film driving away in a Jeep as it gives chase.

This could be what film looks and feels like in the next couple of years thanks to the millions of dollars invested in virtual reality across the world of media.

The new technology could change the face of film, putting viewers directly in the movie, instead of posing as an outside viewpoint to the events unfolding on-screen.

Short films already utilzing this technology have been released on mobile devices and at several film festivals, and have been recieved well.

Filmmakers using this new technology have seen that viewers felt closer to the characters and developed stronger emotions during the film.

With this technology in the hands of educated filmmakers and studios, it could provide amazing new experiences in Hollywood, essentially opening a new era of film.

Since 1895 when the first film was shot and shown in paris, Cinema has allowed viewers the opportunity to epxlore unknown worlds, different planets, and even see personified emotions residing in a young teens head.

The cinema world is changing though, virtual reality is taking the stage and it is happening soon.

Marketers, journalists, and artists all make use of this rising technological marvel and cinema will be the next victim to the spectacle that is VR.

News publishers have already begun to report using 360-degree cameras and utlizing VR to help viewers witness things like the battles in Syria as if they were there themselves.

This type of technology is game-changing, quite literally.
Since the beginning of the era of film, seeing movies was an experience unattainable at home. Theaters contained speakers, projectors, and other technology that was meant to draw viewers in and keep their attentions wrapped around the film and its world.

In the era of VR, consumers want more, and film-makers want to feed that fire growing in the consumer market.

As VR becomes a more affordable product, huge changes are being made to the VR market. Headsets such as Oculus Rift, or the Samsung Gear VR, while originally meant for gaming, are opening doors to cinematic experiences opening doors to cinematic experiences unseen anywhere.

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Fox Searchlights Pictures launched a three-minute 360-degree film called “Wild” back in 2014 and studios are pouring thousands into VR firms and workshops to learn and utlize the infant technology to achieve films that could allow viewers to experience a whole new type of movie.

Of course, with VR headset prices drastically declining, home sales will increase, pushing theaters to jump on and adopt the new technology or fail and allow home sales to overtake the market.

Previously, movies could only be viewed at a fixed angle decided by the director and camera crew. With VR, the consumer can choose what angle to view the film in. If they want to turn away from the horrific killing of the main character, they can, or if they want to escape the gaze of the evil creature stirring in the dark, that is also a possibility.

This technology immerses the viewer in the world that the director and screenwriter are trying to portray.

While it still has a few years before it reaches a price friendly for the majority of consumers and filmmakers, it is a product that is likely here to stay and will likely change the way that we interface with technology.

Qualcomm Collab To Deliver Cloud-Based Gaming To Mobile Devices

 

Hatch-3roomsIn an announcement by Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, inc a new subscription service for cloud-based gaming for mobile devices will be delivered by Qualcomm and Hatch Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rovio Entertainment, in a collaboration between the two companies.

The service will be playable on servers based on Qualcomm Centric™ 2400 – the worlds first 10nm server processor.

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“The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server processor was purpose built for cloud to deliver exceptional performance-per-watt and performance-per-dollar,” said Vishal Gupta, vice president of business development at Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies. “We bring high compute density and energy efficiency with Qualcomm Centriq 2400 to help drive Hatch’s innovative cloud game streaming solution.”

The new service will utilize Hatch Entertainment’s innovative online streaming delivery model will be combined with Qualcomm’s server technology to deliver the service.

The service will will allow mobile gamers to experience full-featured games running at 60 frames per second, optimized for low-latency gaming performance over mobile data networks.

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Despite the power of the servers and technology behind the service, gaming through this service will require less than half of the bandwidth required for video-based game streaming solutions.

Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 will offer a 48 core processor that will help Hatch Entertainment provide a large number of game instances per server.

Hatch will offer gamers high-quality gaming experiences in the cloud, while developers will be able to more easily afford and create multi-multi-synchronus multiplayer games.

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The service will work well for gamers wanting to free up space on their phones and will facilitate competitive gamers and family’s and friends who want to collaborate in-game on their mobile devices.

Our vision is to let people discover, play and share great games instantly and in real-time, bringing people together over games they love,” said Juhani Honkala, founder and chief executive officer, Hatch Entertainment. “Our collaboration with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies is a significant leap forward in advancing our existing gaming technology and platform, which offers users a fun and completely new kind of gaming experience on mobile.”

Hatch Entertainment will showcase the new service in the Qualcomm Booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 26.

 

Environmental Awareness: A look into Video Game Environments

Imagine, a player loads up a game called The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for the first time and after a short stint being greeted by flames and smoke in an area not far off, you are greeted by an expansive land of snow and ice.

It’s not that easy to describe, however, the player is greeted by more than the land before them, they are greeted by the animals weaving in and out of trees, curiously afraid of the armored figure. They are greeted by the wailing snowy wind, and the distant roar of a dragon, sat atop a mountain in the distance, and they are greeted by an atmosphere that they are free to explore in its entirety.

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It is this atmosphere that make games what they are, even when players don’t realize it.

The sounds and sights of the world players engross themselves in is what makes players stay. It is captivating and when done well, it can alter the players mind in ways that can induce fear, wonder, and amazement.

Gameplay is important, of course, but without good sound design, environmental art, and sound lighting, the game will fizzle out.

What made games like Dead Space and Resident Evil so terrifying was their sound design.

In Dead Space, a popular survival horror game set in space, players will hear the hiss of pipes, the creaking of the colossal metal ship they are walking in, and the skittering noises of enemies nearby.

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Without these atmospheric tones and well-timed sound effects, the game would feel no different than The Sims. It is this sound design that draws players in and makes their heart pound as they creep through dingy hallways littered in torn limbs and gore, not just the graphics.

Graphically, a game can be amazing but if the environments lack life or atmosphere, they will ultimately fail to become a true game.

Skyrim makes use of all aspects of environmental design. Birds chirp, snowy wind whistles, the sound of a wolves footsteps behind the players character induce fear and panic as they try to figure out where the enemy is from within a patch of brush.

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Of course, video games aren’t all about panic or inducing fear. Good environmental design can also induce wonder.

Most players that first step into the world of Skyrim agree that they were met with a feeling of wonder, and curiosity as they crept down the snowy mountainside, hearing the sound of every footfall and windy whistle and gazing at the beautiful environment created by the artists and designers at Bethesda, the developers behind the game.

Another game players recall feeling this exact emotion was Bioshock Infinite.

Players will find themselves thrust into a skytop city brimming with alternate universe American culture. Statues of George Washington and other founding fathers litter the world, american flags are hung everywhere, and the sound of bells and atmospheric chatter swiftly bring players into the world it is trying to purvey.

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These atmospheres sometimes take years to create. Certain games require teams to visit locations all around the world to record sounds or conduct research on the feel of the atmosphere of the area they are trying to create.

Assassin’s Creed developer Ubisoft sent teams to modern Egypt to get a feel for how things looked and felt before they set upon to create Assassin’s Creed Origins, the developers first foray into ancient Egypt.

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For games that take on historical roots, accuracy is key. Researchers, designers, and artists painstakingly scour the internet, real-world locations and books to accurately portray the world or time period they are designing.

It is an amazing feat, especially for smaller development teams but the work that goes into the design of a games environment lasts the lifetime of the game.

Review: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition

It is a true wonder when a mobile game impresses the gaming community, but that is exactly what happened when Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition was released on mobile devices just a week ago.

What began as a ‘do we really need this’ became a ‘this is truly a great portable edition of Final Fantasy XV’.

Honestly, who knew that the gaming community needed a 3DS-like ‘demake’ of an already great console (and now PC edition) game but it proves to be a great option for those who haven’t played Final Fantasy XV or those who just want to play through the game again portably.

GAMEPLAY

One thing players will notice about Pocket Edition is cutscenes are nearly perfectly recreated, though now in the ‘chibi’ graphic style.

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Players of the console edition of the game will feel right at home, with dialogue between characters copied word for word, complete with voice acting for nearly every text bubble.

Banter between characters is still funny and an important piece of the story and atmosphere.

Movement has been reduced to just tapping or holding onto a point on the screen but somehow it works, especially in battle.

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Though simplified, the battle system in Pocket Edition feels right. Attacks are automatic once you target an enemy with Noctis’ warp ability returning, and the having the camera facing down, you can see exactly what you are doing at all times, which is a breath of fresh air fom the hectic camera system in FF XV.

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Areas of the game are fairly large for a mobile game, though it certainly isn’t open-world.

Outside of battles players will explore areas looking for barrels to smash, or sand piles to grab items out of. Exploration is still fun, with features like camping returning.

Of course, Ignis’ cooking sessions have returned as well.

The first time I saw Ignis snap his finger and exclaim, “I’ve come up with a new recipe,” I smiled, knowing I was about to embark on another adventure with Noctis and gang.

GRAPHICS

The game is still beautiful, though everything has been shrunk down to ‘chibi’ size.

With graphic settings set to high, light blooms seep onto the scene, colors are deeper, but even with settings set to low, it feels like playing a 3DS game, which is an amazing feat for mobile.

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Battles are still action packed with effects and characters all working flawlessly.

I experienced almost no lag, though there were a few slowdowns in some areas when transitioning from one place to the next, though it isn’t always noticeable.

The game runs in 30fps by default but I found playing in 60fps was a more enjoyable experience personally.

SOUND

Everything is nearly identical to the console version in the sound department. Music, sound effects, dialogue, its nearly perfectly adapted to the mobile edition.

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Hearing ‘Somnus’ play on the main menu when opening up the game was a nice touch, and instantly made me want to play through the game again.

One noticeable difference is right in the beginning scene. When Noctis and the gang are pushing the car along the road, I expected ‘Stand by Me’ to start playing but instead another song began to play, with no lyrics.

It’s a small complaint but the only noticeable one during my playthrough of the game.

SUMMARY

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is a great feat for mobile gaming. It is a true Final Fantay experience that feels just like a 3DS remake of FF XV, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It doesn’t feel like mobile game. I never once thought, ‘I’m playing on my phone right now’. Most of the time I was too engrossed in the game to worry about what device I was playing on.

Essentially, they recreated the entire game for mobile devices. Everything is intact, including cutscenes.

It is certainly an enjoyable experience for the price and definitely worth the investment.

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is available to try for free. The full game is $19.99 for all 10 chapters.

New Kingdom Hearts 3 Trailer Confirms Monsters, Inc. World

In a new trailer, developer Square Enix finally confirmed another Pixar world that will be in the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 3, Monsters, Inc.

Complete with monster forms for each of the main characters, Sora, Donald, and Goofy can be seen meeting Sully and Mike and their little human friend, Boo.

Also in the trailer are reveals and hints towards a renewed Organization 13 and a glimpse of Vanitas approaching Sora in a cutscene from the game.

The game is supposedly still on track for a 2018 release with rumors panning the game towards a Holiday 2018 release, in time for the 13th anniversary of the titular series.