March 17, 2013

Chrome Game Review: From Dust

From DustFor the Chrome-Gamers out there. "From Dust" by Ubisoft is a high-end graphics-heavy game (really breathtaking visuals) that is available in the Chrome Web Store. This goes to show the potential for larger apps doing bigger things right in your browser thanks to Chrome’s Native Client.

However, here's the kick to the front of my pants, my Chromebook doesn't have the graphical power to play it, which is uber disappointing because I bought it with the hope it would be better tuned for Chrome games.

What a let down, because when I played this on Playstation 3, I was mesmerized  The gameplay is both challenging, unique, and fun-as-hell, but the story and setting are what hooked me.

You basically play a benevolent spirit-god in an origin myth of some primordial people, assisting them as they exit the underworld and enter the land of the living using your god-like powers. To me, that is a vindication of video games as an expressive medium, it gives us a creative narrative in which we interact and take a direct role in advancing. Oh the possibilities...

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March 14, 2013

5 "Polite" Suggestions for the Chromebook

It's been a couple weeks and change since my previous article on my Chromebook, and after rereading what I posted, I feel as if I was too harsh. I've gotten more used to the little guy and now I'm proud to say that, despite issues (which all gadgets suffer from in some way), I think the Chromebook is an awesome invention with devastating potential. Most of it's failings can be easily ignored, because it makes up for it with it's innovative strengths. So here are some of the ideas I came up with to improve the experience. I don't know no technical jibber-jabber, so I have no idea if these are even feasible ideas, but there's nothing here too fantastic, and hopefully the men and women of Google are already hard at work implementing these basic ideas.

1. Let the Chromebook run Android Apps

If this topic were a horse, it would be dead and I'd be beating it, but whatever. It's still the most sensible and desperately needed upgrade that could fling the Chromebook quite easily into super-stardom.

The official online color is: #A4C639 . 한국어: 공...
Android OS has consistently proven itself through mainly one saving grace, the Google Play Store. With the vast sea of Apps at your disposal, any limitations of the hardware can generally be overcome. Chromebook should be able to rock some sweet Play Store apps. Chrome OS and Android OS are comparable in scope, 2 GB of Ram is more than enough to run your average Android app and a 16 GB hard drive can be stuffed to the gills with all the smartphone classics. Some time ago I owned a BlackBerry Playbook tablet which featured an Android Player, allowing it to utilize selected Android apps. It's the same principle with the CB. There will no doubt be complications with touch-screen involved, but anything that can be done with a finger can be done with a mouse cursor, more or less.

2. More Touchpad Gestures

Dolphin Browser
Dolphin Browser (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The touchpad is really starting to grow on me, it's becoming eerily comfortable. The problem is it doesn't really go beyond scroll and context menu (unless you wanna gamble with those flag things). I want to see all important functions for browsing be elegant scribble-gestures on the touch pad (like a figure skater on the ice). Split the fingers to X out a page, slide them together again to open a new tab, glide them in an up and down direction at once and you open an incognito page or whatever. It's all a delicate dance. This seems to me to be a task less suited for a simple touchpad and better for a full 10-finger capacities touchscreen that's being used as a touchpad. Cause that would be awesome, like having Dolphin Browser-style gestures. Think about it...

3. More Native Apps

It's time to bust this myth that we shouldn't have any native software on Chrome OS, it's backward forward-thinking. Just because Chrome OS began as an internet browser doesn't mean it has to be JUST an internet browser anymore. It's an OS now, it needs to act like it. Chrome OS needs some better native applications to access data stored on the computer and use it. The video player wonks, the music player wonks, the "Files" app is mediocre. Since I finally got Google Drive to work Offline, document editing has been great, but still, Scratchpad wonks, and now that I have GDocs offline, it serves no function whatsoever. I can also list a bunch of functions I would rather do natively than in browser window. Give us a real media player, with playlists and libraries, no more searching through Files, give us a real interface to play with our stuff.
Google Chrome OS on VMWare
Google Chrome OS on VMWare (Photo credit: berrytokyo)

If 'El Goog' is dead set on us going straight to the cloud and nowhere else, the very least they could do is give us some richer web apps, ones that can go offline and interact with data and files on the SSD. Google Play Music on Android plays MP3s that are natively stored, why couldn't they do the same for the Chromebook?

4. More Free Stuff

The 100 GB of Google Drive space was an amazing sweetener for the new Chromebooks, an offer that was well worth it for choosing a Chromebook as your next mobile computer. Not to mention the ballin' 1 TB for Chromebook Pixel users. Why not do more stuff like that? I mean Google has their entire cloud-service empire at it's disposal, surely it could spare a good deal or two. Why not gives us some credit to buy music or a couple of movie rentals on the Play Store? Why not cross promote and give us some tokens for buying apps for Android? How about just a rebate, sent right into our brand new (mandatory) Google Wallet accounts? This could actually up the competitiveness against Windows and Mac, because they don't give you crap (who else hates only getting the trial version of Office). The Chromebook remains most attractive because it's a cloud surfer designed to command Google's pre-existing internet menagerie anyway, so why not use exclusive deals from said menagerie to hock more Chromebooks. Everybody wins!

5. Do something with the Desktop

I realize this is a petty complaint, but bear with me. It serves literally no purpose. The only option when you click up the context menu is to 'change wallpaper'. It exists solely to exist, it seems, and that's fine for a lot of things but not in an OS, no sir. The shame is there is so much you could do with it. Take Android's cue here and fill it with apps and widgets (yes, Chrome Widgets!), make us want to go back to the desktop from time to time. However, make sure it looks like Chrome and not Android. Clean and simplified, like a kitted-up version of the New Tab screen in desktop Chrome.

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