Telltale, Tension, And More Vocal Woes

Happy Weekend TAY!

Are all the Canadians recovered from Thanksgiving and the mass turkey consumption? My mother never understood the concept of “too much food” so it took my body several days after last weekend to return to a normal state of satiety.

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I also messed up my sleep schedule last week; something that often happens when I am travelling. This meant I was running the week on very little sleep. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to a regular rhythm this weekend.

Not much was accomplished on the gaming front last week, but what was played was great; except of course for Rock Band 4.

I started off my shortened week with an experiment. I have a bunch of home theater equipment in our basement hooked up to some old gaming machines. This equipment was of great quality at the time it was purchased, but over the years it was replaced for meatier sub-woofers, HDMI enabled receivers, and higher quality speakers.

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In our main floor family room we have had an old Spherex speaker system for ages. It has served us very well and is appealing because of the very small footprint versus the excellent sound quality.

Thinking (hoping) that the Spherex speakers might be partially responsible for the vocal delay in Rock Band 4 (possibly due to some unknown extra processing?) I decided that I’d try the older but potentially higher quality sound equipment from the basement. This of course was far from anything resembling even a scientific hunch, but as my window to return my Rock Band 4 “Band In A Box” starts to close, I’m getting desperate for a solution.

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As many of you know, changing out an entire AV system, running new wires around a room, and calibrating all the equipment is no small task. I spent most of my free time over two days to get it all up and running.

And it didn’t help a lick with the Rock Band 4 vocal output delay. I was able to remove all the extra audio processing on the newly set up (old) Yamaha receiver and by making the Xbox One output uncompressed stereo audio. This should have removed as much extra audio processing as possible in the whole set up, but it didn’t help at all. Oh well, the sound system in the family room is likely better off now, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. My last test will be on the home theater system in my game room, if that doesn’t work, then I guess I’m left again with the only option of returning Rock Band 4.

Apparently Harmonix has recognized there is an issue, but whether a fix is possible is anyone’s guess. I was reading that the vocal output delay was an issue with their E3 demo as well, so if they didn’t fix it for launch, then I’m not overly hopeful they can fix it at all. It isn’t on the list of things to correct for the upcoming patch at the end of October; apparently it isn’t an easy fix.

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Aside from the Rock Band 4 disappointment, I did manage some great gaming with the little time I had.

I thankfully passed my sticky point in Alien: Isolation. I was finally able to distract the damn android long enough to cut through a vent cover to escape the room. Man, that was tough and SO tense. My heart was actually paining me from all the tension. Such a brilliant game and the atmosphere is astounding. The mix of such well detailed environments coupled with the insanely awesome sound design makes for an experience rarely seen in gaming. So tense though, so tense. It might kill me.

My wife and I, having exhausted our current supply of Sons Of Anarchy on blu-ray (seasons 1-3), have now picked up Telltale’s The Walking Dead again. Up to now we’d only played, and loved, season one but the other night we quickly polished off the added 400 Days episode. An interesting approach with small snippets of stories from different people who find their way together. The scenarios were fun and a nice refresher to the game after our long absence.

Having finished that, we moved directly onto The Walking Dead: Season 2. It was nice to be back with Clementine again and so far the experience seems to mirror the first season; with maybe a little more QTEs thrown in. I hazard to call Telltale’s experiences “games”, as they are fairly rudimentary in any sort of actual gaming aspects. However, as interactive stories, they are genuinely entertaining.

Keeping with Telltale, my whole family played the first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode - The Order Of The Stone that came out last week. My son is a certified Minecraft junkie and owns so much Minecraft stuff that it is becoming ridiculous. (today, I have to pick up yet another Minecraft novel he pre-ordered at Chapters). Before we had a chance to play he just couldn’t wrap his head around what Minecraft: Story Mode actually was, having never played an adventure game before. He couldn’t understand how we could all play it together and not each have our own controller.

But together we did play it. I ran the controls since my son often got so caught up in the game that he didn’t even notice the dialog choices until it was too late. We had a great time with the first episode and it was wonderful to play it as a family. It was also nice to show Xander the group experience side of single player gaming.

The game is certainly family friendly and seems a little safe (which I suppose it is meant to be) after playing The Walking Dead. However, the writing and voice acting are up to Telltale’s high standards. Of course my son was in seventh-heaven with all the references to Minecraft and Telltale’s crafting and combat modes really helped it feel like a Minecraft experience. Something tells me this is going to be a major hit with the kids. We definitely are looking forward to the next episode.

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It is supposed to be cold and miserable around here this weekend and I have a ton of work to do, but I imagine my wife and I will get to more of The Walking Dead and hopefully I’ll have time to work on that coronary with Alien: Isolation.

What are you playing this weekend?