Hands On With The OUYA Open Source Gaming Console


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At the risk of losing some of my geek cred, I must admit that I’m not a big gamer. I love to code and, well, there’s just not enough hours in the day. Still, I couldn’t help but get excited about the possibility of a sleek, small, open-sourced gaming console that runs on Android when I saw OUYA on Kickstarter. My pre-retail OUYA arrived on Friday, just in time for a weekend of testing.

OUYA Console

A Console For The People

Starting at $99 for the system and one controller, OUYA promised many things:
– Open Source
– Sleek, user-guided console and controller design
– Lots of games
– Developer support
– Change the gaming industry

Before my console arrived, some of the delivery was obvious. The OUYA team dedicated time to answering questions and working on valuable partnerships. Additionally, the controller design was guided, in part, by suggestions from the community. While the console was being built, OUYA held a contest in which developers submitted game prototypes and the community voted on their favorites. Though they were just prototypes, my review of the submitted games was the first time by excitement for this new console ebbed. Most of the games were not console-worthy and only a few stood out as ones I thought showed some promise. I reminded myself that these were prototypes from indie developers who had a short time frame to develop in and bottled up some of my apprehension.

As a funder in the Kickstarter campaign, one of the perks was getting the console before it hits store shelves in June. The closer June got, the more I wondered if it would ever arrive. Of course, I was in the last batch to be shipped, but it eventually turned up on my doorstep.

Unboxing And Setup

The unboxing of my OUYA has been bitter-sweet. The recipe for the worlds first open source gaming console seems to consist of excitement, anticipation, caution, a bit of doubt, disappointment, and frustration. Below is the unboxing video which includes some game play.

After getting everything out of the box, I headed for the setup instructions. A few simple instructions covered the basic – and I mean BASIC – setup: Plug things in, turn on, follow on-screen instructions. Great. Easy peezy, I thought, but then I looked at the controller. I had two AA batteries per controller, but no obvious battery panel, no screws to unscrew, and mostly no instructions. I took a chance and lightly tried to pry the top cover off of a controller. Sure enough, the left side popped off and there was a battery slot – for one battery. A quick check revealed the right side hiding a battery compartment as well. Where everything else was designed to be so simple and intuitive, I wondered by the battery installation had to be a puzzle.

Once I had everything plugged in and booted up, getting connected to the internet was just awful. The first time I tried, it connected and even downloaded updates. Then it immediately dropped my wireless connection. After several attempts to reconnect, I looked to the support site for help where I found that many others were experiencing the same connection problems. After trying suggestions to remove the case, factory reset, reboot my router, etc., I finally gave in and dragged a monitor and my OUYA upstairs to the wireless router and plugged it directly in. With just a little more prodding, the wireless magically started working again and has been fine throughout the house. Waiting months to play with this thing only to have to battle another hour or two to get it to work is certainly not ideal.

Features And Game Play

Let’s talk a little more about the features. For starters, this is a $99 console. I think the last time I spent this little on a console was when I got my Nintendo. More diminutive than the price is the console, itself. OUYA stands at 3x3x3 inches and packs in a Tegra3 quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8GB of internal flash storage, ethernet and wifi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth LE 4.0. It connects to your TV via HDMI with up to 1080p support, and also has a USB 2.0 and micro-USB port (for development). The controller is wireless and includes the familiar four surface buttons, two analog sticks, one d-pad, and two left and two right trigger buttons. At the top center of the controller is a touch pad to control an on-screen cursor.

Game play feels good and the controller is comfortable. The OUYA console is equipped with an internal fan but can still warm up some when in use. OUYA carries about 135 games, but I’ve only tried a handful based on what was featured or a “Staff Pick”. If the four games I’ve spent time with thus far, Final Fantasy III was my least favorite. After all the bragging about bringing a recognized title to this console, the game left me bored. Conversely, Chrono Blade – whose developers can also brag about their work on Grand Theft Auto – has been a non-stop action game with smooth play and combo moves that take me back to the first time I played Street Fighter. Honorable mentions go out to Beast Boxing Turbo and Flashout 3D for providing engaging game play and notable quality.

While I’m on the topic of quality, even Chrono Blade’s graphics – while the most impressive I saw on OUYA – couldn’t stop me from wondering if this $99 console will ever show signs of the level of graphics found on an XBOX 360 or PS3. While open source means virtually no barrier to entry for developers, it also means that most of the games currently available lack the production quality found in other consoles. Hopefully time will cure this. In the meantime, the silver lining to this cloud is that OUYA embraces share-ware style gaming. You can download any game (or a demo in some cases) and if you like it, you can buy it right from your system. If you don’t like it, simply delete it and try the next one. While other consoles offer an option to get games online, OUYA’s games are all online.

Open Source And The ODK

The OUYA runs on Android, which makes it easy to fulfill one of its key goals, to be open source. Typically, a game developer would need to spend five or six figures to develop for a Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo console. The cost to get started developing an OUYA game is $0. This is a double-edged sword for developers. On one hand, it means a ton of games and no walls keeping creative new developers out. On the other hand, there will be a lot of junk games to sift through to find the good ones.

I’m no game developer, but I have been wanting to take a stab at some Android development. Even though OUYA is designed as a game console, it has the potential for a lot more with the ability to create all forms of apps for it. Sadly, I’ll have to wait until OUYA fixes their ODK (OUYA Developer Kit) link so I can download it.

Early Conclusions

It’s still a bit early to be sure, but I think OUYA has a promising future, providing they can work out the kinks. The wireless connection problems were especially concerning. I

PC Gaming vs Console Gaming


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When the subject of gaming comes up, I find some gamers are pretty sure that console gaming beats PC gaming hands down and other gamers feel the opposite way about it. This infographic from Digital Storm puts the two head to head in a comparison.

(larger version here)
 Gaming vs. Console Gaming Infographic

Gaming PC VS. Gaming Console – An infographic by the team at Digital Storm

What about you? Are you a PC gamer or console gamer and why?

How To Sell Your Old Video Games Online


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What do you do with your games when you’ve beaten them or you upgrade to a different console? In the past, I’ve found myself making my way up to the game shop to get their trade-in value or sometimes have my older games turned away completely. Then there’s eBay, where I’ve been known to take my chances on it selling at all. But now I’ve found a new way to sell old games. Some ex-eBay employees have harnessed their knowledge about online markets and user experience into Glyde, a site made specifically for buying and selling things like your games.

Glyde- Simply buy and sell your games, iPads, iPhones and more

Sell Old Games Online

Glyde’s selling process is a little different from what I’m used to. To sell your old video games, you just have to start typing in the name of a game, select it when Glyde finds it for you, and click the Sell button. Then you tell Glyde the condition of your game and it will auto-set the market price for you. You can raise or lower the price and then list the item. Although you have to fill out some required information for your first listing, the process is a lot faster and easier than most sites.

To review this site, I figured the best thing to do would be to create an account and start selling. In a test scenario where I might sell the Halo 2 XBOX game in Excellent condition gave me a suggested selling price of $2.25. After the $0.27 transaction fee and $1.25 mailer cost, the total money made from the sale comes out to $0.73. My first thought was that this seems like a pretty low price to let go of my game for. Despite it being an older game, I found it to be a bit low compared to other online shopping sources, as well. I next checked out how much I’d get for Halo Reach, which fell a lot more in line with the average selling price on other sites at $11.51 after fees.

The thing that I found most appealing about the selling process is the shipping procedure. Once someone has purchased your game, Glyde sends you a pre-addressed mailing envelope to ship your game in. All you have to do is pop it back in the mail and you’re done. This is a vast convenience over the way I have to ship things I sell elsewhere, which usually includes a lunch hour wasted at the post office.

Buy and Sell Anything Online

While Glyde may be well-suited for selling old games, you can buy, too, and they don’t stop at just games. I found the iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kindle, and even books. The selling process is pretty similar throughout, but the questions displayed on the selling page are geared towards what you’re selling. When selling an iPhone, for example, you’re asked about if it works and the amount of scratches on it. With a game, you’re asked more generally about the condition of the game.

Buying is pretty straight forward, but the feature that stands out is that Glyde shows you the item that is closest and cheapest for your search. This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but sadly, eBay, Amazon, and Google don’t default to such a listing. In addition, I like that the packaging isn’t suspect to the whim of the seller. You can pretty well expect your item to be delivered in what Glyde deems adequate packaging.

Conclusions

Where Glyde may occasionally fall short in seller earnings on a sale, it doubles up on convenience and ease of use over all. The shipping system stands out in a way that promises to quietly eliminate the usual shipping concerns most buyers and sellers face on other platforms. Personally, I will definitely look to Glyde when it comes time to sell games or some of the books I have sitting around here.

Although the preceding was a sponsored review, as always I strive to provide an honest opinion of the product or site reviewed.