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Reid Main

iOS developer @Affirm

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June 2017 Retrospective

June was a fairly solid month. I did not make progress in all the areas I wanted, but I did manage to branch out and expand to others so I definitely count this month as a step forward.

June was also the first month I really wrote a lot for my blog because WWDC and E3 provided a substantial amount of material.

Health

I rebounded from my shitty month of April and managed to exercise four or more times times every week.

Every weekend my colleague, Jan, and I ran at least 15km including a half-marathon which we managed to complete in under two hours. We also took advantage of my Dogpatch Boulders membership and climbed a couple of times which really made me remember why I love climbing with friends.

During the week most of my exercising came from running on the elliptical or climbing the stairs in my building. I didn't strength train as much as I wanted to again because Strong app still hasn't been enough to motivate me and I haven't spent any time reading up on it.

Food has been trending in the right direction as well. Avocado toast with eggs has been a delicious and nutritious breakfast. The lunches at Affirm have been healthy when I avoid the carbs. I have done a good job at not buying unhealthy snacks and instead focusing more on fruits on vegetables. I am still purchasing some dinners from the prepared section of the grocery store but I also have been substituting some dinners with Soylent Drink of which I've tried all three flavours. Original tasted like pureed sugar cookies. Nectar tasted like the milk left over in a bowl of Fruit Loops. Cacao tastes exactly like chocolate milk. Most likely I'll get a subscription of Nectar and Cacao so I can replace 60-70% of my dinners with them.

My weight and body fat percentage have not changed at all so my fears seem to have been confirmed. Unless I cut my caloric intake and continue exercising the same amount I probably won't lose any more weight. The alternative is to work on increasing my muscle mass which should result in me gaining some weight but burn some of body fat which is really the only thing that matters.

Read a book

I did plan to read Hyperion in June but I got distracted by the Death Note anime which made me want to read the Death Note manga and that was exactly what I did.

After rewatching the anime and reading the manga for the first time I can honestly say that every single person should experience Death Note. It is not your typical Japanese anime or manga and I believe that it can appeal to everyone.

But in July I swear that I am going to read Hyperion!

Play a video game

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS was the only new game that I played in June. It is your standard battle royale type of game that was made popular by mods for ARMA 2 and 3 as well as DayZ and standalone games like H1Z1: King of the Kill. It is still in early access so it is quite janky (network hiccups and frame drops being the most egregious) but after playing 10 or so hours I can understand its allure. The game does an amazing job at ensuring you never feel completely safe. You're never more than a minute or two away from having to take some kind of action that will force you into potential danger. The constant tension is palpable but games last less than 30 minutes on average so it is never too long before you get relief. You either die, the likely outcome, or you win that sweet chicken dinner. Either way once you get that release you quickly think over all the great moments of that game and usually you just want to dive right back in.

Become conversational in another language

Duolingo finally added support for Japanese so I resurrected this resolution and have been practicing every day for the final 10 days of June. I am under no illusion that Duolingo is suddenly going to allow me to converse in the language but I hope their gamification will kickstart my interest in learning Japanese so I can go back to the Pimsleur audiobooks on Audible or Genki book series.

Release an app

I did absolutely nothing this month to release my app. I spent the majority of my time writing, reading or playing video games. I won't say that means I wasted my month but I really need to find a way to motivate myself to work on this stuff. I need to find a way to convince myself that trying is not the first step towards failure and accept the fact that I am not going to write amazing code for the frameworks I want to build even if I spent months planning them.

Do not indulge in time killing activities

May was pretty much the exact same as April with respect to time killing activities. I did a decent job of keeping myself busy with either a game or a book but I still did spend too much time browsing Reddit or watching YouTube/Netflix. I've noticed I routinely say "I am tired and it is so late that there is no point starting a game or programming" and then kill time rather than being productive. I need to figure out a way so that, no matter how little time I think I have, I can pick up something and be productive. If I wait until I feel that I have a couple of hours to get deep into an activity I am never going to do anything and instead just fall back to killing time on Reddit or YouTube.

I think what I need to do is break my activities down into much smaller goals. Instead of it being "Release an app" it needs to be "write a logging framework" or maybe even smaller than that like "write the interface for the logging framework". Goals that are so explicit that even if I only have 30 minutes I should be able to make progress on them instead of just pulling out my phone and playing more Magikarp Jump. Also fuck that game and its addictive jumping Magikarps.

Conclusions

While May felt like a lost month June definitely feels like a step in the right direction. I think I can easily maintain everything that I did in June and if I add even just a minor bit of work towards releasing an app I think I will finally be able to count July as a truly productive month.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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My gaming schedule for July thru December 2017

Now that E3 has come and gone I think it is finally safe to say we have the release dates for the vast majority of games that are going to come out in 2017. Sure there could be a couple of outliers who announce their release in the coming months but, with the size of the list I have going right now, it will be hard for me to find time for them.

Since I have been trying to play at least one new game a month in 2017 I thought it would be a good idea to list all of the games I think I will end up playing by the end of this year.

Splatoon 2 (July 21, 2017)

While Splatoon 1 was a fun game I just never really got into it. I think with the addition of a single-player mode and the ease of use of a Switch (booting up my Wii U was just painful) I think I'll get much more into this game.

Dauntless (Founder's Alpha starts August 18th, release 4th quarter 2017)

Dauntless is a free-to-play hunting game in the same vein as Monster Hunter. Players can pay for various cosmetic items or temporary boosts but the most important items in the game (crafting materials, armor and weapons) cannot be bought. Supposedly you cannot buy your way to power. You can only pay for things to make your character look more badass. The developers behind Dauntless, Phoenix Labs, have been very open about their development process so far and as a result I have incredibly high hopes for this game. It will be the first high definition hunting game in the West in almost five years.

Dauntless is offering Founder's Packs for players who want to buy into the game to get early access as well as some nice trinkets for supporting Dauntless before launch. I purchased a Founder's Pack because I really believe in what Phoenix Lab's is doing and I want to see more hunting games in the West. That means that I will get to play Dauntless on August 18th when the Founder's Alpha does live and hopefully the game will release in full in the 4th quarter of 2017.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (August 29, 2017)

X-COM is probably my favourite game franchise of all time and XCOM 2 was my #2 game of 2016, behind Monster Hunter Generations.

I've made dozens of attempts to beat XCOM 2 but only succeeded once so far and still had an absolute blast. I am in the middle of a Commander Ironman run which I hope will end in success before this DLC comes out and then I can jump right into another play-through with War of the Chosen.

Firaxis has talked up dozens of quality of life improvements to the core gameplay as well as the addition of several new game mechanics which should make the game even more strategic. I could not be more excited for this DLC.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (August 29, 2017)

It's Rabbids meets Mario meets XCOM. I did not think I would have any interest in this game but after seeing some gameplay I am incredibly hyped. The only concern is how am I going to find time to play this when XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is released on the same day?

Destiny 2 (September 6, 2017)

I really want to say I will resist playing Destiny 2 but if one or two friends starting playing and ask me to jump in for a raid I would probably cave. Also who doesn't want more Cayde-6?

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (September 19, 2017)

2017 is apparently the year of story driven fighting games for me and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite feels like it is going to pick-up where Justice 1 & 2 left off. I played a lot of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in University and am really excited to get back into the franchise in September.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War (October 10, 2017)

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was my game of the year for 2014 so I could not be more excited for Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The Nemesis system now allows players to create entire armies which they must use to assault fortress to unseat its Warchief. Everything about this game seems like they took the first and cranked it up to 11.

I was going to say that this game could get me to buy an Xbox One X but since that is not released until a month after (seriously what the fuck was Microsoft thinking) I'll probably end up getting Shadow of War for PC. I would like to play it on my couch but I think the Nemesis system and scale of the world will really benefit from my beefy gaming rig.

Super Mario Odyssey (October 27, 2017)

I was always going to play Super Mario Odyssey. There was absolutely no doubt about that. But with the new hat possession mechanic I have not been this excited about a Super Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy 1.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (October 27, 2017)

I really hope I get an opportunity to play this game but I think with Super Mario Odyssey coming out the same day it is going to be really easy for it to fall under my radar.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 (November 17, 2017)

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is on this list strictly for the single-player. If it isn't good then I'm not buying. I got enough solid multi-player games to occupy me for many years already.

BattleTech (beta soon, release 4th quarter 2017)

I am a huge fan of Harebrained Schemes so their next game, BattleTech, is very much on my radar. I debated going through BackerKit to get access to the beta but there are so many games coming out this summer that I think I'll just wait until the fall to play BattleTech.


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E3 2017: Best in Show

E3 2017 has come and gone and these are what I think were the best announcements made or games shown at this year's conference.

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter is one of my favourite franchises of all time so I could not be more excited to see it return to consoles. My first Monster Hunter game was actually Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and it is still the highest resolution Monster Hunter game I have played. Don't get me wrong I loved the portability of the 3DS but it has been pretty obvious for a couple releases now that Capcom is limited by the hardware. Look at this report by Digital Foundry. That is running at 240p! While it is amazing what Capcom has done with such a low resolution and underpowered hardware (especially the particle effects) I cannot wait to play Monster Hunter at 1440p and 60 FPS.

Combine that with the fact that this is being made by the same team who made Monster Hunter 3 and 4 and I have extremely high hopes for this game. It is not going to be some one and done, flash in the pan spin-off. This is the next evolution of Monster Hunter.s

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

XCOM 2 was my second favourite game of 2016 (beaten only by Monster Hunter Generations) so of course I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on the latest XCOM 2 DLC.

Everything I have heard makes this sound more like a total conversion mod than typical DLC. The game has been completely rebalanced and dozens of new mechanics have been added: new hero classes, rebel factions you can curry favour with, bonds between soldiers increasing (or decreasing) their fighting prowess, soldier become fatigued. And of course the Chosen are the main part of the DLC, three enemies specifically crafted by the Ethereals to hunt down the Commander. The each have their own unique powers (like the Alien Rulers from the Alien Hunters DLC) but they will level up as your game progresses and constantly be harassing you and referencing past events.

Firaxis even said that this could have been XCOM 3 but they decided to release it as DLC so I bet there is so much more in the pipe that we don't know about. August 29th can't come soon enough.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

My love for XCOM perfectly segues into this next game, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Some insane Italian, Davide Soliani, thought "what would happen if I took Ubisoft's Rabbids mixed them with the Super Mario universe and used XCOM's game mechanics?" Well Davide, you get a pretty fucking kickass game is what you get.

This game looks absolutely bonkers. The announcement trailer sets the tone for how kooky this game is going to be (Rabbids taking selfies, Mario with a gun) and this boss battle gives you an idea of how incredibly deep the strategy in this game could go. Honestly, the only problem with this game is that it comes out on the exact same day as XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. Maybe I need to take a staycation that week?

Anthem

Bioware finally revealed Anthem and holy shit does it look good. It seems like Bioware's take on Destiny which is something I thought I would never say. The gameplay looks way beyond what you would expect from a narrative driven studio like Bioware. I am very much interested in hearing what the story is and how it integrates into the gameplay we saw. This is Bioware after all so I cannot imagine them making a game that doesn't focus heavily on the story.

Super Mario Odyssey

The main gameplay mechanic of Super Mario Odyssey was finally revealed and it is that Mario can possess nearly anything by throwing his hat at it. I love the potential that this brings. Nintendo can now deviate so far from the standard Mario power-ups. He possessed both a tank and a t-rex in that trailer for fucks sake! I was already pretty interested in Super Mario Odyssey but I was not expecting something like this. The original reveal trailer looked very pretty but gameplay seemed fairly standard, which isn't a bad thing. I'm sure that kind of Mario game would still be fun because of the polish Nintendo would have put into it. But with this possession mechanic they can literally do anything. Entire mini-games that we would never expect to see in a Mario game are now possible.

Spider-Man

While I was expecting a Spider-Man reveal I was not expecting that level of polish. The combat looked fun, the traversal looked fluid and the story had an amazing cinematic feel. I honestly was not expecting much from Insomniac going into this but they have gained my attention.

A Way Out

I love the idea of story driven game that HAS to be played co-op. It is a bold idea and I am interested in seeing how it plays out in practice. Playing a pair of prisoners who have to work together to escape from jail is also an amazing backdrop for a game like this.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

The original Wolfenstein slipped under my radar but I hope that won't happen with the second one. That trailer gives me a lot of hope for the writing and characters of this game. Looks like a great mix of action und comedy and with the id Tech engine I'm sure the gunplay is going to be spot on.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

I am a huge fan of the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series so I thought my eyes were deceiving me when a trailer came on during the Microsoft conference for another Dragon Ball Z fighting game that wasn't 3D. Holy shit does this game looks amazing. It truly looks like you are playing the anime and when you watch gameplay like this or this you realize that they truly have done it.

Metroid: Samus Returns

This was such a strange reveal. Nintendo chose to not show this in their presentation and instead just drop it casually during their Treehouse stream. Apparently it is a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. I am a big fan of side-scrolling Metroid games but dear god the 3DS visuals are really rough. I honestly think it being a more stylized 2D game would have been better than this low-res 3D version.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

I feel kinda guilty putting Middle-earth: Shadow of War on this list because it got a lot of press before the show but fuck it I am so hyped for this game. I want to make sure everyone hears about it because it is undoubtably going to be competing for my game of the year.

Xbox One X

Microsoft announced another $500 console. Did Vaas never tell them the definition of insanity?

#E3

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E3 2017: Nintendo Spotlight

C'mon Monster Hunter XX localization announcement! That is literally all Nintendo has to do for me to consider this a success.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

I tried to play Xenoblade Chronicles 3D but the story and combat did just not grab me. I played it for a good 20 hours hoping it would get better and then one day I put it down and forgot to pick it back up again.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn't look that much different. I'll definitely be paying attention to the reviews because there really aren't any RPGs coming out for the Switch but good lord it is going to be hard to overlook that bad voice acting.

Kirby

A new 2D side scrolling Kirby game for the Switch. The trailer looks pretty good so I'll definitely keep this on my radar.

Pokken Tournament Deluxe

I never played the original so I highly doubt I will play Pokken Tournament Deluxe.

Metroid Prime 4

I guess a 43 second "trailer" for Metroid Prime 4 is better than nothing? I am surprised that they are continuing with the Prime franchise rather than spin something else off. It will be interesting to see exactly what makes it a "Prime" game.

Yoshi

Very similar to Kirby, this new Yoshi game looks like it could be a lot of fun. Playing with the depth of the levels could be a blast. My major fear right now is that it looks like it may be a bit too simplistic but if it is meant for young children then I think this game looks perfect.

Fire Emblem Warriors

Nintendo seems to be big on licensing their major franchises for musou games and Fire Emblem seems to be the next one to get the treatment. Personally I'm no longer a fan of these types of games. I wore myself out with Dynasty Warriors a long time ago so I'll probably pass on Fire Emblem Warriors.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC

Honestly, the majority of this stuff looks like it could have been in the main game. I don't see any reason to buy the expansion pass to get access this. I was hoping for more involved dungeons like previous Zelda games.

It is obvious that I am in the minority who prefers the old Zelda games so maybe I'll just go buy Majora's Mask and relive my youth.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

I linked the announcement trailer yesterday and nothing new was revealed during this presentation but I am still so fucking excited for this. During the Nintendo Treehouse stream they showed off a boss battle to give you a better idea of what the gameplay will be like.

Rocket League

Rocket League is coming to the Switch. There really isn't much more to say other than it will feature cross-network play so you can kick it with your buddies on PC and PSN.

Super Mario Odyssey

The Super Mario Odyssey game trailer was probably one of the most interesting presentations because it finally showed the major hook of the game. Mario can throw his hat and possess seemingly anything in the world. Goombas, frogs, Bullet Bills, rockets, Cheep Cheeps and of course a tyrannosaurus rex. I was already pretty stoked for this game but to see such a departure from the standard Mario power-ups I am even more excited to get my hands on this in the fall.

Conclusion

And that was it. The Nintendo Spotlight was barely 30 minutes long and showcased more of the games that were announced at the same time as the Switch as well as reveal a good number of new games.

I come out of this presentation still excited for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Super Mario Odyssey but lukewarm on most other games. I'm sure I'll play and enjoy some of them but the way they were showcased here just didn't get me that interested. At least not to the point where I am chomping at the bit for them to come out. I'm sure games like Kirby, Yoshi and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will just sneak up on me and suddenly they will be out where Mario cannot come soon enough.

However like I said at the beginning, all Nintendo had to do was announce a localization of Monster Hunter XX and they did not so I must consider this presentation an absolute failure. It looks like Nintendo has relinquished their control on Monster Hunter in the West and is letting Capcom take over and go multi-platform. I can't say I am disappointed about that but I was really looking forward to have a nice looking portable Monster Hunter game again.

#E3

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E3 2017: Sony Conference

Sony has been on a bit of an upswing in recent years with their propensity to just focus on the games. After Microsoft threw down the gauntlet showcasing 42 games and a new console at their conference I wonder what Sony is going to counter with.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross were some of the most poorly written Uncharted characters, in my opinion, so I have very little interest in playing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Chloe is a poor imitation of Nathan Drake with her snark and quips and Nadine did absolutely nothing to endear herself in Uncharted 4. She came off as a one dimensional mercenary focused only on the treasure. I'm not sure why Naughty Dog chose these two characters to headline their own game. Elena Fisher or Sully would have been excellent characters for an Uncharted spin-off. Cassie Drake would have also been a great choice but I assume Naughty Dog is saving her for Uncharted 5.

Horizon Zero Dawn DLC

Horizon Zero Dawn is on my pile of shame for 2017 games and was the game I planned to play in February but good old Persona 4 Golden got in the way. The Frozen Wilds DLC looks interesting and maybe I'll now just wait for it to be released before giving Horizon Zero Dawn a proper shot.

Days Gone

Days Gone looks like a gritty, poor man's version of Uncharted or Last of Us but with zombies. Nothing in this gameplay video looked particular interesting but it wasn't quite bad either. It looks like a fairly average open world action-adventure game which means I will most likely not play it. There are just too many other games worth playing this year.

Monster Hunter World

What the fucking hell happened? Monster Hunter World. Not only is Monster Hunter returning to consoles, in glorious HD, but it is coming to PC as well. I honestly never thought we would see Monster Hunter outside of a Nintendo console in the West and that Dauntless was going to have to fill that void but I have never been more happy to be proven wrong. This is an easy contender for game of the year 2018. It is suppose to be considered part of the main series so it could be looked at as Monster Hunter 5 in every way except the name.

Shadow of the Colossus

I don't know what to make of this. Is it a remake? A Remaster? What is it? It looks beautiful regardless and I have never played the original Shadow of the Colossus so maybe this is finally the time.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

After Injustice 1 & 2 I am super in the mood for fighting games with a story mode and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite seems to have gotten onboard. I was already planning on getting this game so this trailer boosted it up to a must buy.

Call of Duty: WW2

I am one of the few people who seems to have preferred the World War 2 theatre for my Call of Duty (and Metal of Honor) games. This trailer has given me some hope that Activision has moved a little bit back to the Call of Duty roots and away from the ludicrously bombastic scenarios the last five or so Call of Duty games have seen. I come away from this cautiously optimistic and Call of Duty: WW2 is now on my radar for this fall.

Skyrim VR

Skyrim on the PlayStation VR. I am still not sure how they have gotten over the motion sickness typically caused by free movement in VR. What more can I say other than this just looks like all of Skyrim in VR. Personally I am not interested in that but maybe there is a big enough contingent of PlayStation VR users who are.

Star Child

A PlayStation VR game that I have almost no idea what it is about after watching this trailer and as a result I have very little interest in.

The Inpatient

A PlayStation VR horror game that I would never play even if you offered me thousand of dollars. Coming from the developers of Until Dawn I am sure this game will be great but it will be just too terrifying for me.

Final Fantasy 15 VR Fishing Brah!

OMG this is the 2017 game of the year right here.

Bravo Team

This looks like the shitty prototypes students would make when they first get their hands on VR tech. Both the graphics and gameplay looked absolutely bland.

Moss

Moss is a PlayStation VR game staring a cute mouse doing something. The gameplay is not quite clear so there really isn't much to get excited about except the aesthetic.

God of War

I'm still not sure about this. Don't get me wrong it looks beautiful and I like the story potential with Kratos taking care of his son and trying to teach him. But I really liked the old God of War style of fast paced combo oriented combat and this one just seems slower paced and that over the shoulder camera I just can't get over. I'm not dismissing this yet but I will definitely be waiting for reviews and/or a demo.

Detroit: Become Human

I am a huge fan of David Cage and his games Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. I love his branching stories and I am particularly looking forward to playing multiple characters again like you did in Heavy Rain which was my #2 game of 2010. Everything about this trailer looks amazing and I cannot wait to play Detroit: Become Human.

Destiny 2

This is just Destiny 1.5 to me. I put hundreds of hours into Destiny 1 on both the PS4 and Xbox One and what I've seen of Destiny 2 so far does not make me want to go back. Perhaps if some friends get it and pressure me into playing I will but I can't imagine myself going back for solo gameplay unless they miraculously managed to add a good story to the game finally.

Spider-Man

This looked like Spider-Man: Arkham City. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing because it was beautiful and the Arkham style combat fits Spider-Man to a tee. The traversal looked fluid and fun and the cinematic presentation gives me hope for an engaging story. My only concern is that if the game is just this same gameplay over and over again it will get boring. But it has been said this is an open-world game so if you can traverse New York City looking for a variety of different activities to engage in then I can see this game being an absolute blast.

Conclusion

Sony had a short conference that clocked in at just under an hour which was surprising because they didn't really showcase many indie games and the majority of their games had been shown previously. There also was no word on Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Shenmue 3 which were tentpoles of previous E3 conferences and even fan favourite franchises like Dark Souls, Bloodbourne and Last of Us were absent.

The only real true surprises were Monster Hunter World and Shadow of the Colossus, two games that have incredibly niche appeal. Spider-Man was an expected reveal and it hit all the right notes, so good on Sony there, but the vast majority of the other games had already been shown. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WW2, Uncharted spin-off, Horizon Zero Dawn DLC. These were all things we expected to hear about and while they showed well they just didn't have the oomf that I was expecting. Also, the words "early 2018" appeared far too often.

They also didn't say anything directly about the PS4 Pro or mention anything that would really make gamers want to purchase it over an Xbox One X. I am a hardcore gamer and I still don't understand why I should buy a PS4 Pro. Sony really has fucked up their marketing with it and has given Microsoft a huge opening with their Xbox One X. Thankfully Microsoft fucked up in their own right by announcing a $500 console again so who really knows what is going to happen in the console wars in the later half of 2017.

I come away from this conference super stoked for Monster Hunter World but absolutely lukewarm on everything else.

#E3

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E3 2017: Ubisoft Conference

I am not a fan of Ubisoft E3 conferences (they are usually incredibly cringy) so I skipped watching it this year and used TotalBiscuit's supercut to learn what happened. I'm not going to cover everything because I am just not that interested in most of Ubisoft's games.

Assassin's Creed Origins

The last Assassin's Creed game I played was Assassin's Creed 3 and the receptive gameplay and sub-par story killed my excitement for the franchise. This trailer and gameplay were quite well made and showcased enough gameplay that I am marginally interested now. For the last couple Assassin's Creed games I didn't even read the reviews but I'll at least keep my eyes peeled for good words about this one.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

South Park: The Stick of Truth got great reviews and as a massive South Park fan I thought I would play it but it managed to slip under my radar. South Park: The Fractured But Whole looks very interesting for all the same reasons as the first but with a pretty packed fall, including some major RPGs being released, I fear this one is going to slip through the cracks again.

Skull and Bones

I never stopped hearing about how great the ship combat was in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Ubisoft seems to have built an entire game around it. Skull and Bones looks beautiful but it seems to be very multiplayer focused so I'm just going to be honest with myself and accept that I'll probably never play it.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids mixed with XCOM and an Airbourne soundtrack for the announcement trailer. I am amazed how much I want this game and to add insult to injury it comes out the same day as XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. I am going to have a plethora of turn based strategy games for September.

Far Cry 5

In Far Cry 5 we are finally done with shooting aboriginals from whatever far off land we have a flimsy excuse for visiting and instead are shooting whitey in rural Montana. Your companions seem to have great personalities, the southern motif looks amazing and you get a dog companion! Ubisoft really hit it out of the park with this one. I didn't play Far Cry 4 or Primal because they looked too similar to Far Cry 3 but I will definitely be picking up Far Cry 5 on Day 1.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

Ubisoft showed ANOTHER cinematic trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2. This game has been in development for at least 10 years and a single second of gameplay has not been shown. I don't understand how gamers keep getting duped by this. Oh and naturally no release date. I'm sure it is coming out soon right?

Conclusion

I was legitimately surprised that there was absolutely no mention of a Tom Clancy game. I guess that used to be Ubisoft's bread and butter but with The Division, Wildlands and Rainbow Six: Siege not doing gangbusters they are giving it a little break.

With the surprise announcement of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle I probably gotta consider this conference a success. I think that game is going to be a ton of fun. Far Cry 5 will also be a blast but that will be early 2018.

Assassin's Creed Origins and South Park: The Fractured But Whole could be fun as well and Skull and Bones is a good looking wildcard so Ubisoft seemed to deliver a solid performance this E3.

#E3

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E3 2017: Bethesda Conference

It is still a little weird that Bethesda has their own conference at E3. I know they are trying to become a big publisher but they release so little games every year that it is hard to be surprised and this year was no different.

Bethesda VR

Both DOOM VFR and Fallout 4 VR were showcased.

Doom looked like it could be quite fun. It appears to be a version of DOOM made specifically for VR and it uses teleportation for locomotion which seems to becoming the gold standard for VR shooters. There also seemed to be a time slow down mechanic which could allow you to feel like a badass still by making perfect combo shots and kills. I didn't think I would be excited for DOOM in VR but color me impressed.

Fallout 4 VR on the other hand looked incredibly boring. They seemed to have just taken Fallout 4 and put it into VR. The movement looked like it would be just as if you were using a controller which is what typically leads to motion sickness, at least for me. Fallout 4 wasn't a particularly engaging game either and nothing about this VR version looks like it takes advantage of virtual reality so I'll definitely be skipping it.

Elder Scrolls Online

I've never played Elder Scrolls Online so nothing shown here interested me. For my MMO fix I play Final Fantasy XIV and it is the best MMO I have ever played.

Creation Club

Bethesda products are finally getting paid mods with the addition of Creation Club and I think this is fucking fantastic. If you like something someone creates then pay for it so those people can continue to make things. I don't get this entitled attitude that PC gamers have where mods have to be free and gamers are somehow helping the person who made the mod "get exposure" by speaking highly of it. You know how you can really help someone? Pay them for the fucking hard work they do. You see Reddit threads like this and this where in gamers minds all modders do it out of the kindness of their hearts.

Imagine if the App Store had to be free and you just made things because "you love your phone". There is nothing stopping someone from releasing a mod for free but if someone wants to put more time and energy into their creation and attempt to create a business around it now they can. We could literally see companies form up around creating DLC for video games that they didn't build because there is a system in place for it.

Also why are people not losing their minds over the Dota 2 Workshop where artists can make virtual clothing to sell inside of Dota 2?

Good on Bethesda for trying this again and please ignore the blowhards at r/PCMasterRace.

Elder Scrolls Legends

I didn't even know The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game existed. Hearthstone really kicked open the doors for this genre eh? Whenever Blizzard does something everyone has to jump on board I guess.

Skyrim for Switch

Just another confirmation that Skyrim is coming to the Switch which is something we've known for months but we still don't know what version of the game it is. Is it a port of the Xbox 360 version? Is it the Skyrim: Special Edition? Is it a custom dumbed down version to work on the Switch? We still have no idea.

Of course this has to have amiibo support so you can scan in Link and dress up your Dragonborn as the Hero of Time. You can also use the motion controls to shoot a bow and arrow which I am sure no one will ever do. Skyrim's combat is already clunky as hell why would you want to use motion controls?

Dishonored 2 DLC

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was announced and it brings back two great characters, Billie Lurk and Daud, as they attempt to kill the Outsider. I was not a huge fan of Dishonored 2. I felt Arkane were too stringent with handling out powers which resulted in me always looking for the same solution to every problem because of the limited abilities I had. I will be interested to hear how this DLC addresses that.

Quake Champions

Oh yeah eSports ya'll! Shit is about to get lit in this bitch!

OK have the idiots gone? This was an absolutely horrible showcase. It looks like a shitty ripoff of Overwatch. I have no idea how this game is going to survive in the congested multiplayer arena. I would honestly rather play LawBreakers.

The Evil Within 2

I am an absolute wussy who cannot play horror games. I heard the original Evil Within was an outstanding game but there is no way in hell I could will myself to play The Evil Within 2.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

I heard good things about the original Wolfenstein but I just never found time to play it. After watching this trailer for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus you can color me intrigued. It looks similar to DOOM which is not surprising since they are using the exact same engine. If the gunplay is solid and the story is as interesting as it looks I am looking forward to shooting some Nazis this fall.

Conclusion

Bethesda announced exactly what I expected them to and only one, maybe two games, I would say I am excited to play so Bethesda probably gets a bad grade in my mind. However, I am sure you can easily find people who are going nuts for the latest Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonored or Evil Within content so who am I to complain? Bethesda knows their audience and keeps them satiated with new content so good on them.

#E3

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E3 2017: Microsoft Conference

Microsoft has to announce the name, price and release date of their new console this E3 so let's see how the manage to fuck it up this time around.

Xbox One X

Xbox, Xbox One S, Xbox One X. Say that five times fast. Did no one from marketing notice this? Is Microsoft doomed to have shitty names for their consoles till the end of time? Why not just call it the xxXbox One Xxx? That is brand synergy right there.

A November 7th release date is interesting. It is late enough that a lot of gamers could decide to get a Switch or PS4 Pro because there are a ton of great games coming out before November 7th. I know they are hoping for a busy Thanksgiving shopping season to sell a lot of Xboxes but at the price I am expecting for an Xbox One X I just don't see how that is going to be the case. I would have figured a September release date to capitalize on a lot of popular cross platform games like Madden 18, Destiny 2, FIFA 18 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War would better help them sell these consoles. Maybe I am underestimating the number of people who get these things as gifts and they don't mind waiting three months.

I know Microsoft is all about 4K but I am curious as to how many people actually have 4K TVs? If you don't have a 4K TV what is the purpose of buying a Xbox One X? I know they say things magically look better but as a technically oriented person I have a hard time believing them. How much better? Twice as much as a Xbox One S because that is what I am expecting to pay. Sony has this exact same problem which is the reason I haven't bought a PS4 Pro yet either and I am usually a early adopter for electronics. Both Microsoft and Sony really need to step up their messaging.

A robot then stood on stage and proceeded to spout gibberish to 95% of the general population for five minutes. Seriously this was even worse than an Apple event in that regard. Sure Apple hits you over the head with big technical terms to get you excited but Microsoft beat the crowd to death with it. Sceaming out "1.21 jigawatts" at the top of his lungs would have been just as informing.

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza games always look beautiful and this one is no exception. While Forza doesn't make me want to buy an Xbox Scorpio (see how much better that name sounds after hearing Xbox One X?) it would definitely be one of the games I would buy alongside it if I ever did.

Metro Exodus

I've never played a Metro game but all of them have been universal praised so I don't expect this one to be any different. Nothing I saw here made me want to play the game any more than the previous ones but I can understand how a ton of gamers get sucked into these games.

Assassin's Creed Origins

The last Assassin's Creed game I played was Assassin's Creed 3 and the repetitive gameplay and sub-par story killed my excitement for the franchise. This trailer and gameplay were quite well made and showcased enough gameplay that I am marginally interested. For the last couple Assassin's Creed games I didn't even read the reviews but I'll at least keep my eyes peeled for good words about this one.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

One of the console makers had to get this and it looks like Microsoft ponied up the most money. I've played this game on Steam and it is still very janky so I am quite curious what state it is going launch at on the Xbox One X.

Deep Rock Galactic

Deep Rock Galactic is some sort of co-op shooter that looks like Quake from 20 years ago. I'm not sure what the point of the game is. Just survive I guess?

State of Decay 2

I never played the original State of Decay. The zombie genre was just so played out that I had absolutely no interest in it. I can see how State of Decay 2 could be fun if you had a consistent group of friends to play with but I don't think I will be able to do that.

The Darwin Project

Another battle royale game where you also fight the elements? I may have been able to get excited if some YouTuber jackass wasn't screaming at the top of his lungs for the entire presentation.

Minecraft

I'm glad to see Microsoft is still focusing on cross-platform play with Minecraft. I lost myself in Minecraft for months and I'm sure I could easily do it again.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Fuck yes! I am a huge fan of Dragon Ball fighting games and this one looks amazing. 2018 can't come soon enough.

Black Desert

Like I've said before Final Fantasy XIV is my MMO of choice so Black Desert on the Xbone does nothing for me.

The Last Night

Holy smokes. I have no idea what the gameplay of The Last Night is but that art style and the Blade Runner / Fifth Element setting make me want to learn more.

The Artful Escape

Another very pretty indie game that shows no gameplay and instead takes you on some sort of acid trip.

Code Vein

Um, some sort of post-apocalyptic JRPG? The combat looked very Dark Souls-ish so who knows it could be good. Like most of the games shown during this presentation you'll have to wait until 2018.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves has a ton of potential. It looks like it could be a lot of fun but only if you have friends to play it with. I am very doubtful I'll be able to find enough friends with Xbones who want to play this but a man can hope.

Tacoma

I didn't enjoy Fullbright's first game, Gone Home, so I really am not interested in Tacoma.

Super Lucky's Tale

Meh. I got Super Mario Odyssey this fall if I want a platformer. I don't need Super Lucky's Tale.

Cuphead

I'll give Cuphead one thing. It has the most unique art style of any game I have seen in recent memory.

Crackdown 3

I absolutely loved the original Crackdown. The amazing traversal and ludicrous firepower in an open world was addicting and you just wanted to keep climbing and shooting. Crackdown 3 has a lot of potential because of how far the tech has advanced in the interim so I am very excited to see how this game reviews.

Ashen

After watching this trailer I have no idea what Ashen is and really have no interest in it. After I finish writing this sentence I'll probably never hear of this game again.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

I watched someone play-through Life Is Strange on Twitch and I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone who loves The Walking Dead game and Heavy Rain, the narrative of Life Is Strange really pulled me along and I loved how your choices had a significant impact. The trailer for this prequel didn't show a lot (and nor should it) but I'm sure it got every Life Is Strange fan hyped.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

God damn I want Middle-earth: Shadow of War right now. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was my game of the year for 2014 so I am beyond excited for Shadow of War. This is the sole game that I think could get me to buy an Xbox One X. I do have a PC that I could play this on but Shadow or Mordor was a great couch game and if Microsoft can really showcase how much better Shadow of War will be on an Xbox One X they could possibly convert me.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I never played Ori and the Blind Forest because I heard that it was very difficult with a lot of trial and error and I was just not in the mood for that kind of game at the time of it's release. Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks just as beautiful as its predecessor and I'm sure it will review just as well so I only need to decide if I am finally in the mood for it's type of game.

Xbox One X Price

I cannot believe they fucked this up again. $499 USD for an Xbox One X. No console has ever launched at $499 or higher and succeeded as the developers wished. You think Microsoft would have learned from their previous fuck up with the Xbox One but nope they still think they've done enough to convince gamers to pay half a grand for their console. All Sony has to do is drop $50 from the price of the PS4 Pro and release a bundle this fall that has a PS4 Pro and two high profile games for the same price as an Xbox One X. You really screwed the pooch on this one Microsoft.

Anthem

Alright Bioware you have my attention. This gameplay trailer really did a great job. Anthem looks like a much prettier version of Destiny which is funny because that is the last type of game you would expect a narrative driven studio like Bioware to make. The gameplay trailer was the perfect amount of sizzle to get people intrigued and now I am looking forward to hearing about the nitty gritty details. Is there a single player? What is the story like? What type of group activities are there like Destiny's raids? Is there a hub world and you go to different silo'd areas or is it a large open world?

Conclusion

I can't really shit on Microsoft too much for this conference because they did showcase a lot of games. If you already owned an Xbox then you do have a good number of games you could buy. However, their exclusives are not as enthralling as Microsoft thinks. There were a number of games shown where if you liked them you could also think "I'll play this on PlayStation 4 where it has some exclusive content I really want" like Destiny 2 or Call of Duty WW2 and also great exclusive games like Uncharted, Horizon Zero Dawn, Detroit: Become Human or God of War. If Sony drops the price of the PS4 Pro, Microsoft is going to have a harder and harder time convincing gamers that they are worth spending a couple hundred dollars more to get into their ecosystem.

The Xbox 360 was my console of choice last generation but at this point in time I actually can't even remember what game I last played on my Xbox One. Every single cross platform game that I've bought has either been for my PC or PS4. I never even once considered getting it for my Xbone. Sony came out of the corner swinging this console generation and Microsoft seems doomed to play catch-up.

#E3

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E3 2017: Electronic Arts Conference

Electronic Arts has been pulling away from "official" E3 events in recent years and this year was no different. They decided to kickoff E3 even a day earlier by having their EA Play event on Saturday June 10th in Hollywood, California which is a good 7 miles away from where E3 is being held in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

I wasn't looking forward to anything in particular from EA. They have driven most of the franchises I loved into the ground so I was honestly just hoping to be surprised by something interesting.

Madden 18

EA's bringing a story mode to Madden, like they've done for FIFA, called "Longshot". You look to play as a quarterback trying to make the NFL and battle through all the melodrama that you would expect from a Hollywood film. I am not a big fan of Madden so I really can't say anything other than this doesn't make me want to play Madden any more than I did previously.

Battlefield 1 DLC

While I did enjoy Battlefield 1 I have fallen off it pretty hard. This DLC does look very nice but I have so many other games that are taking up my time I don't see myself going back.

FIFA 18

The last FIFA I bought and played was FIFA 16. I am a big fan of football (aka soccer) but I got pretty burned out after FIFA 16 because it felt like more of the same. FIFA 17 added a story mode called "The Journey" which did catch my attention but when reviews were fairly lukewarm I decided to pass on it. FIFA 18 looks to be doubling down on this story mode and so I'll probably just end up waiting for lukewarm reviews and passing on it again. But who knows? I would love to be proven wrong this time around and play me some more footy.

Need for Speed: Payback

EA, I just want Burnout Paradise again. You don't need to make these ludicrously complex story modes to try to give these drivers meaning. I just want to cruise around a city knocking off various challenges. It is amazing how EA still does not get this and keeps trying to drive Need for Speed into the ground. But I guess with the success of The Fast and the Furious franchise EA thinks they gotta capitalize on it. Just look at this trailer and tell me this wasn't influenced by The Fast and the Furious.

A Way Out

A co-op only game from the creator of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I never had a chance to play Brothers but I heard nothing but positive things and the trailer and gameplay for this look interesting. You play a pair of prisoners who are trying to escape from the jail they are being held. It looks like an excellent mix of story and gameplay.

Anthem

A teaser trailer for Bioware's new IP that showcased absolutely nothing of substance. Looks like we just have to wait for the Microsoft conference to actually see what Anthem is.

NBA Live 18

I've never played an NBA game by EA and nothing shown here got me excited.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

The first Battlefront was far too shallow for me. Coming from games like Battlefield, Counter-Strike, Heroes of the Storm and hell even the original Battlefront I was expecting something deep and strategic. A game that I wanted to play over and over again because it was fun not just because of the Star Wars veneer. Unfortunately, Star War Battlefront 1 was not that. After an hour of playing it I was already bored with the modes and lack of variety and strategy.

EA said and showed all the right things during the hype videos for Star Wars Battlefront 2 so I can only hope that the gameplay does become more enjoyable and varied but I will definitely be waiting for the reviews for this game. The thing I am most excited for however is the story mode which is something that was skipped the first time around. The concept of playing an Imperial solider in a single-player game mode is genius and the cutscenes they showed gives me hope for the writing.

Conclusion

Since EA showed only two things that I was remotely interested in (A Way Out and Star Wars Battlefront 2) I'd have to say EA had a bad showing. But I can understand if some other gamers think that this was absolutely amazing which to me is a quintessential representation of how EA is perceived nowadays. They are a very polarizing publishers that casts such a wide net that they can easily piss you off or make you love them. EA has been pissing me off for many a years now so I am not holding my breath that things are going to change any time soon.

#E3

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WWDC 2017: Thoughts on the Keynote

Here are my thoughts on the WWDC 2017 Keynote.

tvOS

Really? The only thing Apple can say about tvOS is that an Amazon Prime Video app is coming out in the fall? Tim Cook said more information was coming later this year so I guess all we can do is hold our breath for the September event and see what happens then. Perhaps a 4K Apple TV is in the pipeline?

watchOS

Getting a little bit more screen time than tvOS, watchOS seemed to be focused more on incremental improvements than drastic changes. I am most looking forward to the changes to the Activity and Workout apps because my Apple Watch is basically a health monitor. Customized coaching notifications and monthly challenges from Activity could be motivating but on the other hand they could also be quite shallow and annoying. The updated card UI for workouts looks nice and I am especially stoked about being able to start another workout without stopping the current one.

Apple made yet another tweak to the dock UI seemingly to make accessing apps even easier but I think Apple is starting to come to accept that third-party apps for the watch are going to be very rare. 99% of the things they highlight in the keynote and on the new watchOS preview page are things that were built directly by Apple. They did expose a bunch of new APIs but I think they are mostly going to be leveraged by existing watchOS apps rather than pull in new developers.

The Siri watch face was the only major new feature in my opinion and it has a ton of potential. If Apple gets this right and can correctly learn what is important to the user and display topical information it could easily become my default watch face. However, I suspect it is going to go the route of most other "smart homepages" that display very shallow information that is not at all topical. My only hope is that because I am so invested in the Apple ecosystem they are able to know more about me and present information that I truly want.

Mac

Like Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion before it, macOS 10.13 High Sierra seems to be a release focused on refining the previous macOS release.

Blocking autoplaying videos in Safari as well as intelligent tracking blocking to prevent companies like Facebook and Google from following you all over the web. Mail search speed is greatly improved and now takes up less space on your hard drive. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, also known as H.265) is built in to support the growing ubiquity of 4K video. The Apple File System (AFPS) is becoming the default file system in High Sierra and after the seamless migration of hundreds of billions of iOS devices to APFS earlier this year I am actually quite excited for this. All in all it looks like a solid next release of macOS.

Metal 2 is something I was not expecting and not because I didn't think Apple cared about graphical performance. I know they do. It was because of how much of a focus they put on virtual reality. They literally demoed the HTC Vive on stage and then talked about how High Sierra will allow you to connect an external graphics card to your Mac to boost its graphical capabilities. This is a technology that is still very nascent and barely supported on Windows. The Razor Core is one of the few viable examples of this I know of and the number of Windows computers that have Thunderbolt 3 ports is still quite small. Almost every new Mac sold from late 2016 onwards will support this technology. That is insane. Think of how many Macs there will be that could, in theory, support VR by mid 2018. Think about all of those developers who have only used Macs and have wanted to try game/VR development but didn't want to use Windows. In one macOS release Apple may have blown the doors wide open.

I was expecting this WWDC to be about how Apple hasn't forgotten all of those professionals who use their hardware for photo and video editing, recording music, etc. Creative people who need a graphical powerhouse. I never thought Apple would expand into the gaming space let alone do it so aggressively. They mentioned SteamVR, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity all have beta builds ready for developers to start playing with immediately. I am really interested in seeing how this changes the adoption of games for macOS in the coming year.

Now if you don't want a portable Mac Apple has you covered. The iMac's were updated with the latest Kaby Lake architecture and, if that wasn't enough for you, Apple announced the iMac Pro for those who need a 18 core Xeon CPU, 16GB AMD Vega GPU, 128GB of DDR4 RAM, 4TB SSD machine with a 27" Retina 5K display. Basically a 🖕🏻 to everyone complaining about the Mac not being powerful enough.

iOS

If I don't try to curtail myself here I could easily write several thousand words on this section alone so I'm gonna try to be as terse as possible and focus on things that affect me the most.

New app drawer for iMessage apps to improve discoverability because using iMessage apps right now is a major pain in the ass. Peoples' love for sticker packs can only overcome so much friction.

iMessage finally syncs to iCloud! I currently get iMessages on four different devices so this is going to be awesome. It will also be great for people like my sister who have huge iMessage histories and this information can now be stored in the cloud to free up space on device.

Apple sherlocks Venmo and implements person-to-person Apple Pay. Drug dealers around the world rejoice!

General Siri improvements but the biggest one is the supposed machine learning Siri will do to allow her to have more context for your requests. Hopefully this means we can talk to Siri more like a human being than a 5 year old child who is not paying attention. Also Apple added new translation functionality that would have been super useful when I was in Japan last year. I lived inside the Google Translate app. You can also type directly into Siri now so I no longer have to look a mental patient if I am out in public and want to ask Siri a question.

Apple continues the sherlocking by implementing Bounce and Loops into the Camera app to further bite into Instagram and Snapchat.

Another update to control center as Apple has done every year since iOS 7. I am really stoked about this one though because it has all of the things that I figured out I wanted after using the latest iteration of control center. I love the shortcuts to various settings and system controls but too often I found myself wanting to make a slightly different tweak like change Wi-Fi networks versus turn Wi-Fi off or change to a different Bluetooth device. Apple seems to have experienced these pains as as well and has taken full advantage of 3D Touch to allow you to drill down into every option in control center. By doing this they were able to move everything onto a single page (no more swiping to get to music controls) and add even more options like quick access to Notes, Wallet or Alarm as well as a new screen recording option. Maybe in a future iOS release we'll here about how you can make extensions that appear inside Control Center?

Apple also merged the lock screen and the notification screen so no longer will you pick up your phone, see some notifications only to have Touch ID kick in and unlock your phone before you can read and have to go hunting for them. Now whatever was on your lock screen will appear when you swipe down from the top. Simple and elegant.

MusicKit has a lot of potential for third-party apps. I love Apple Music but I am looking forward to other developers takes on discoverability and organization of music when they have the ability to do incredibly tight integration with the Apple Music library. The pseudo-resurrection of Ping could help discoverability if enough of my friends use Apple Music so I am interesting in seeing how that plays out.

The Apple Music design seems to have permeated through to the rest of iOS and the chunky navigation bar with big bold text at the top seems to be here to stay. In addition, the card/tile UI also seems to be spreading as well. Rounded corners inset from the screen edges for everyone!

The App Store redesign is very pretty but without since I haven't physically used it I am not sure how much it actually is going to improve discoverability. I really hope Apple did solve this problem but only time will tell. The biggest thing I am stoked about with respect to the App Store are all the developer enhancements they've made. Expanded free trials, better reviews API, ratings are no longer reset when a new version is released. But the most important is phased releases. The ability to roll your app out to only a small percentage of your users, check to ensure that nothing is going wrong and slowly ramp up distribution is game changing. I know Android has had this for years so I am super stoked that Apple finally got got their head out of their ass. Unfortunately Apple did their normal thing and didn't give developers complete control. If you turn on a phased release it will happen over 7 days at fixed increments.

Machine learning was the undercurrent of almost everything Apple talked about during this Keynote. I am not going to pretend to understand the theory of machine learning but I understand it's potential application and importance so the release of a core framework to give anyone using an Apple device access to it is pretty amazing.

ARKit is something I was not expecting to be released at this WWDC. I was expecting that with whatever new hardware was going to be in the iPhone 7s/8, Apple would say they needed it for augmented reality and would showcase their AR capabilities then. But to my shock Apple says that they have hundreds of millions of iOS devices out in the wild that are already capable of AR. This is going to be one of those technologies where we cannot physically imagine all of the apps we are going to see over the next 12 months that take advantage of ARKit.

iPad

The iPad Pro had not been updated in over 270 days so I wasn't particularly surprised to see a hardware announcement at this WWDC. To me that just says that this September is going to be fucking crazy if Apple can drop six hardware announcements in a single Keynote in June.

The rumored 10.5" iPad Pro was released and it looks beautiful. It has the same footprint as my iPad Air 2 but with a larger screen, P3 color gamut, new A10X Fusion processor and support for the Apple Pencil. I am seriously considering upgrading to this beast.

What I was not expecting was for Apple to announce that the iPad Pros now have an adaptive refresh rate (which they call ProMotion) and can work at up to 120 hz. That is double what the current iOS devices are capable of which means that in theory these iPad Pros can render twice the amount of frames per second. I don't think the layman fully understands what this means. Scrolling on these devices should now feel that much more "real" because your brain is not going to be interpolating the motion as much. Until you physical try one of these devices you won't be able to appreciate what the 120 hz refresh rate actually means.

To go alongside the new iPad Pros Apple showcased a number of enhancements to iOS for the iPad that bring it more inline with the macOS UI. In addition to split screen mode you can now have an app float on top of the primary app. Apple redesigned the dock and app switcher. All of these additions are in service to the biggest addition to the iPad, drag and drop functionality. You can now drag a picture from Photos, summon up the dock or app switcher, change to the Mail app and drop the picture into a composed email. It looks fluid as all hell and I am really excited to try it out. Unfortunately drag and drop between apps is apparently an iPad only feature and on iPhone you'll only be able to drag and drop in-between different screens of a single app. So you could drag something between conversations in Messages for example but not over to Photos or Mail or Notes. Hopefully this is something Apple will add in a later iOS release. I bet they just don't have enough resources to work out all the bugs in time for the fall.

Apple announced a new Files app designed to be a one stop shop for all of the files on your iPad. It also integrates with third party services like Box or Dropbox or Google Drive. Combined with drag and drop you can now move files in-between apps and services with ease.

The Notes app also got two pretty big features as well. Handwritten text is now searchable and you can scan documents into Notes using the camera which you can then markup using Notes.

You can also quickly access the Notes app but simply touching your Apple Pencil to the lock screen. Apple is slowly but surely making the iPad look like a viable replacement for physical notebooks that people use. They have removed almost all of the friction that is associated with using a digital device as a replacement for a physical notebook.

HomePod

HomePod, the Amazon Echo and Google Home competitor was announced and it was much more focused on being a speaker for music than I was expecting. I was expecting a $150 Siri Speaker but instead we got a $349 Sonos/Siri speaker combination. As someone who doesn't have an entertainment system I am very excited to see how this is going to fit into my apartment. I love the idea of just being able to say "Hey Siri, play some AC/DC" and instantly have Thunderstruck start shaking the walls.

With a four inch subwoofer and 7 tweeters that are being powered by an A8 chip (the same chip that powers the iPhone 6 for fucks sake!) which allows each tweeter to individual adjust itself to provide the best sound for your unique room.

I am also interested in seeing how a HomePod works connected to an Apple TV. Like I said I don't have an entertainment system so I am using the crappy speakers that are built into my TV. I'm interested in seeing how a HomePod (or two) could replace those speakers.

Conclusion

I am very happy with this WWDC. A lot of the rumors were true but Apple still had a few tricks up their sleeves. All the enhancements to watchOS, macOS and iOS are going to make Apple's already superior software even better. I may be able to hook up a 1080 Ti up to my MacBook Pro this Fall. I'm probably going to buy a 10.5" iPad Pro and use it to replace my notebooks. A HomePod will soon be blasting music through my apartment. All in all it is a great time to be an Apple user.

#WWDC

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