Stadia Thoughts

Google Stadia is in the news a bunch of places and MMO Fallout probably has it correct – the problem with Stadia is Google, not the underlying tech. Google seems to have corporate ADHD or very unrealistic timelines for success. They appear to half-heartedly launch product after product and then give up quickly. The joke is they’ll launch a product and also include its shutdown timeline in the same announcement. Or they’ll shutdown a product before it launches.

Stadia’s probable future is licensing the tech to game publishers that want to implement streaming without having to develop the tech (and data centers).

I have Stadia and enjoy it. I also have a gaming PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and haven’t thrown them away. I like Stadia because it fills a niche for me (gaming while traveling) and works really well. My friend likes it because it lets her access games that aren’t available for Nintendo systems.

I also think Stadia could have become a massive success. Maybe it still can but the window of opportunity is closing and a lot of time has been wasted. Amazon is probably a better steward for this tech – they have cloud computing, streaming knowledge, a game studio, and invest for the long term. I’d say Microsoft too but they are also trying to sell consoles and operating systems.

The reason why is: TV.

Yes, the humble TV. These days outside rounding errors, TVs can run apps and typically come with a few, like Netflix, an app that streams video over the internet. This is basically the same thing as Stadia, which streams game video over the internet to a Chrome browser tab. A TV that can run Netflix can also run Stadia. Yes bandwidth is an issue but if HD video streaming from Netflix renders acceptably, then so will a game. (This isn’t a battle to convert the 4K 120 Hz gamers).

That’s the key for Stadia. Screw battling for scraps of market share taken from PS4, Xbox, PC – instead, grow the potential market to everyone on the planet that has a TV, and capture a part of this much much larger pool.

Cut deals with TV manufacturers to include the Stadia app in future TV sales, sell Chromecasts and controllers for current TV owners… plant a massive amount of seeds that no other platform can touch. (Except the smartphone, but Stadia already can stream there too)! Answer the typical “who is this for, AAA gamers that don’t already have a PC or console?” question with “everyone on the planet that owns a TV”.

Expand the content library. It’s small but functional, it proves various high-graphics games can exist and run acceptably. So rather than getting more high resolution shooters, have the (now disbanded) SG&E division work on family friendly games, ones that don’t involve killing stuff non-stop. Games like Animal Crossing (not throwing AC under the bus but it isn’t my style game. However it does have large appeal). Games that don’t need cutting edge graphics so they stream well at lower bandwidth. License board games and develop Stadia implementations of them. Heck, buy Marvelous, get a deal with TenCent, somehow put Story of Season 2 on Stadia. Do the same with other studios.

This is all presentation – after all, who is to say that Pokemon isn’t a game that involves enslaving helpless animals to perform gladiator combat for you. But it isn’t presented that way and is instead seen as a kid-friendly collect-a-thon juggernaut of a franchise.

Ingress and Pokemon Go’s studio Niantic spun out of Google; get a deal with them for their AR engine and make a new game that also plays on Stadia (smartphones) with some hook to use Stadia on TV too.

Redo the subscription, lower it to $5/mo. Have a few staple free games always there (Destiny, PUBG, both are already there), throw in some kid-friendly games (board games, puzzles, etc), but save access to other games for a cheap subscription in order to encourage people to subscribe. Run specials, game X is free during the month so come check it out.

Get on sports licensing and add Stadia-specific hooks to games. Madden NFL 21 is already on Stadia, open the checkbook to get FIFA and some Formula 1 racing game there too. Baseball, basketball, hockey too, but football, soccer, formula 1 have a larger and worldwide appeal.

Sponsor these sports leagues, especially any form of playoff, at a level that lets Stadia run 2 minute ads after the game. During that ad, pull out a great feature of Stadia – State Share.

Kaylriene posted that State Share is only in beta for Cryta. I thought Hitman 3 was implemented with State Share working? I don’t own Hitman 3 on Stadia so I can’t verify.

Anyway, during the post-game show, State Share a scenario from the game that just aired, and let fans replay it themselves. Provide live real-time statistics on how it’s going.

Picture this: 5 years from now, Tom Brady is playing in his 15th Super Bowl, and completes a pass or gets intercepted. Doesn’t matter – post game, State Share the exact setup and make it easy for Stadia gamers to replay the situation RIGHT THEN. Can YOU do better than Brady, or can you defend against him?? Or the team goes for it on 4th down, or doesn’t go for it on 4th down – your turn! XYZ driver lost the race because he couldn’t pass on a tricky curve – can YOU do it? Your country just got eliminated from the World Cup, can you score the goal they needed?? Etc.

Basically issue a challenge and let fans play it IMMEDIATELY!

This won’t work as well for PC or console due to delays waking up devices, navigating the UI, starting the game, diverting attention, the classic “gotta wait for an update”, etc. But for Stadia you should be able to click a button and be dropped right into the game at the State Share point to play right on the same TV. Even better if you can also scan a QR code and pull it up on a smart phone, to get fans away from home in on the action too.

These are the kinds of strengths Stadia needs to capitalize on, not fight some war with pcmasterrace gamers over who the target audience of Stadia is. Answer that question with “every TV owner on the planet” and pull off gaming scenarios they can’t do as easily… leave them slightly annoyed their $5000 battlestation can’t do it as fast and convenient. (The point here is ease and immediacy; yes the PC will be able to since Stadia run there too, but going from watching TV to playing the scenario on their rig will take several steps and be delayed).

For all anybody knows, Google tried making deals which all fell through. So all we’re seeing is the slow wind down culminating in the tech being sold off to recoup costs. It’s sad, I think under better stewardship Stadia could have done so much better. Instead, I’m not even sure what the heck Google has done since it launched. Their reputation for killing off projects is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I get they are a 1.4 trillion dollar company and lots of stuff doesn’t move the needle enough. But games/entertainment could do it if they weren’t so half hearted about everything that isn’t directly feeding their ad business.

2020 Partly in Review


Nintendo sends out a summary of games played and so forth:

The bulk of my hours was split between Slay the Spire (which I also own on Steam), Fitness Boxing, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.

StS is fantastic and my total combined time on Steam and Switch is approaching 300 hours. My favorite character is the Defect, whose mechanic is summoning and evoking orbs for various effects: lightning for damage, frost for shield, plasma for energy, and dark for damage (scales up over time). On Steam, I’m at ascension level 6, whereas on Switch I’m on ascension level 2. The game has randomness, but allows skillful choices to steer towards an improved/better outcome. It is easy to pause and resume, which really helps.


I remember getting these kinds of summaries for Playstation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So… not sure, maybe it is still coming? I’m curious what my numbers look like there. It’ll be mostly God of War, ESO, some Ghost of Tsushima.


Over in Pokémon Go, I hit level 41:

I have the XP for level 42, but lack 2 of the achievements: using berries to catch 200 pokémon, and evolving each of the eevees. The latter is the reason I’m currently walking a flower eevee – getting in 10km for a future flower Umbreon (and later, flower Espeon). The Glaceon and Leafeon evolve with special lures on pokéstops, while the Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon are random (which is extremely annoying). Playing the odds I evolved 2 flower eevees into a Flareon and Jolteon, but producing a Vaporeon is now just a 1/3 chance so I’ll just do regular eevees since they are more plentiful.

I’m evolving flower eevees for this (except for the Vaporeon as noted above) because I already have a set of shiny and regular eeveelutions. I’ll work on a different set, flower eevees instead – and I don’t have enough party hat eevees for a set of those. I already used the naming trick or I’d be able to guarantee myself a flower hat Vaporeon. I know, I know, #firstworldPoGoproblems.)

Disc Golf

I took up disc golf midway through the year, as a way to get some social distance outdoors fun in. I found out that a few friends also played, without any of us knowing the others did. I also introduced 2 friends to the game (and am working on another) so once it warms back up I’m looking forward to playing a round every week or so.

Of course there is an app for that, and I’m using UDisc, the official app of the Professional Disc Golf Association. It’s pretty handy, letting you keep score, and often displaying a map of the course. It utilizes the phone very well, letting you measure how far you threw a disc with GPS (subject to GPS accuracy).

I’m a RHBH thrower (right hand back hand) and a good throw for me is a little over 200 feet. I’ve tried forehand and it feels really weird. So, something to work on here and there. I can improve my distance by at least 50% (i.e. throwing for 300 feet) so there is huge room for improvement.

I’m also working on accuracy, throwing the direction I want to go. 😉 I am fairly accurate, so my favorite courses are wooded or lightly wooded, since those tend to have shorter distances from tees to baskets, favoring accuracy over distance. Worst case for me are wide open courses, because those tend to have large distances involved – after all, if there aren’t many obstacles the only way to increase difficulty is to lengthen the holes.


I’m going to try a round robin system in 2021. If left to my normal scheduling, I’ll tend to “split” time between 2 games in a 80-20 proportion, which is pretty far off of 50-50. 3 games comes down to 70-20-10 or even 80-10-10 – basically one game is dominant while the others get a cursory log in.

But I like 3 games… FF14 has a fun storyline, smooth mechanics, and above all hassle-free grouping. Which is the point, otherwise I could be playing a single player game. I’m nearly at Ishgard and looking forward to unlocking Astrologian.

LoTRO of course is my very long term game, which I wander away from but come back missing it. I left my Boerning partway through Vol 1 Book 3, Defense of Trestlebridge as I recall, and want to move him along. I somehow have not managed to meet up with the coworker who also plays, but that’s fine, I’m poking along with a different character than the one I used my Valar boost on. Maybe I’ll just give up on meeting up with my coworker and look for a kinship to join.

ESO’s action combat feels a lot different, but the variety is nice. Now that I switched over to the Stadia version, I can play while visiting family (and also freed up nearly 100 GB on my gaming PC). I have a friend also playing via Stadia, so there is the possibility of questing together with someone I know, maybe even doing some basic dungeons. I don’t think we’re interested in hardcore modes, veteran modes, any of that stuff…. just the basic XYZ Dungeon I version would be a ton of fun.

So, I was thinking about some kind of day-pinning rotation: ESO on Tue/Fri, FF14 on Wed/Sat, LoTRO on Thu/Sun (with Mon off since that’s currently Zoom boardgames night). I’ll schedule ESO first as that’s the game I have a friend actively playing, and try to sync up. So this overall plan is a 33-33-33 split without emphasizing or ignoring any particular game.

Or maybe be more flexible and try for something like ESO Tue, FF14 Wed, LoTRO Thu, and then whatever for the other 3 available days. Worst case one game gets 2/3rds of the attention, but at least play each game once a week.

I know, probably overthinking this but that’s what this end of the year planning time is for. 🙂

Cyberpunk 2077

I checked my Stadia account this evening, and noticed the play button was live for Cyberpunk 2077. Hm… perhaps the midnight Dec 10 launch was in Europe so here in the U.S. we get it hours earlier the evening of Dec 9. Nothing to download and no day 1 patch… instead I could just launch and play. 🙂

However I couldn’t play long – only about 30 minutes before needing to do some other stuff. I might be able to play another hour or so before bed… we’ll see.

So I’m obviously not getting 4K graphics, even though I think I’m eligible (being on the Stadia Pro trial). Maybe current conditions are forcing a downgrade to 1080p (I’m not even sure how to tell what resolution and fps you are running at, without in-game support or some extra tool that queries your graphics card). But it is certainly playable.

This game is clearly designed with controllers/consoles as first class citizens, because all the dialog choices so far can be cycled via up/down arrow or mouse selection. Confirming a choice is ‘F’, moving and driving is WASD – fortunately the driving section was brief because that is one game mechanic where a controller is far, far superior to a keyboard.

The plot so far, which I do not believe contains much in the way of spoilers given I’m a paltry 30 mins into the game, is that my character, a Nomad, takes on a job to deliver a package to Night City. This section of the game is basically a tutorial and I think it’ll open up now that I’ve arrived. Kind of like exiting the cave after Skyrim’s intro dragon attack sequence.

I mostly just wanted to post this because while ESO on Stadia was a major draw, the Cyberpunk 2077 deal over Black Friday was irresistible (again, that was preorder the game and get a free controller and Chromecast Ultra, for an overall $10 savings). And now it’s here!

EDIT: How could I leave out a screenshot of the game… played on my phone?!

So I suppose that’s my apartment or base, when you are loading up… my phone is a Pixel 3XL and the game does work. Granted, my eyesight isn’t good enough to want to play this way for any amount of time, but the game does run. It’s like magic almost.

The virtual controller (you can see faint outlines around the edges) is a nice touch. Tapping the screen makes the virtual controller light up and become active – hot zones on the screen work like a controller. It does work, although I do fat finger quite a bit; however that would improve with practice.

Ok enough fiddling, I should either actually play the game or get some other stuff done. Over the weekend I’ll try doing dailies in ESO (grab daily reward, train horse) on my phone. Because I can. 😉 And mostly just to see how viable that is.

ESO – Stonefells

I’ve probably spent more time on my PC ESO account (Steam, and now linked to Stadia), but I’m further along on my PS4 account and also have played it more recently. But, I’m eager to try out ESO via Stadia, doing more than just collecting daily rewards or training my horse. So, I picked up my long neglected character on the PC account, Melanncthe, a Dark Elf Templar.

First order of business was to reset my stats and skills. I’ve come to realize there are better more focused ways to assign this stuff – in fact the “novice” skills guide in game does a pretty decent job advising what skills/morphs to take – so I looked up where to go. Any of the capital cities works and it turns out I was already in Mournhold! So I found the re-dedication shrines and reset my char back to a nice blank slate to spend points on. I’m not claiming expertise but I know I did a MUCH better job distributing stats and skills this time around.

After that I glanced over my quests and … decided to take a step back and remember what I was doing. So I traveled back to Davon’s Watch in Stonefells and pulled up the zone guide and saw I was missing a few things. Like, most everything. What can I say, I was wandering randomly before (and in my defense I’ll claim that the zone guide didn’t exist at the time, which is true because UESP says that came along in update 21, Feb 2019). SERIOUSLY, it didn’t exist for the first ~5 years of the game??? Wow, that was a tremendous addition to the game, it’s felt like it has been there forever and I leaned on it heavily on the PS4.

Completing the zone guide for Stonefells would be a perfect task to get back into playing – maybe not everything, like world bosses and world events, but definitely things like quests, wayshrines, delves, points of interest, striking locales, skyshards… fortunately I had finished the zone quests and 14 of 16 wayshrines, so my goal was to get those other 2 wayshrines and then do a little exploring and a quest or two.

One wayshrine I needed was “Brothers of Strife” so I ported to the nearby “Fort Arand” and started traveling. Soon enough I found a quest giver standing outside Fort Arand, and started the quest “Suspicious Silence”.

Suspicious Silence had me battle through an enemy camp to retrieve orders, which led to the follow up quest Venom of Ahknara. That quest had me fend off 3 assassins infiltrating the fort, explore a dungeon in order to seal it off from an invading force, and then defeat their leader, Ahknara. Fortunately there was another player around because that last fight against Ahknara was tough, but between both of us (generously speaking, they did 70% of the work) we did it.

Screenshots work differently on Stadia – they capture to your Google account and from the app (sigh) you can create a share link. Like this:

I can’t figure out how to get WordPress to render that inline… I guess the previous method of downloading the image and uploading it to the WordPress image library to then insert will still work. I’ll keep fiddling around for a better solution; in the meantime:

Anyway, that is ESO played in a Chrome web browser on my gaming PC. And here is a screenshot from Chrome on my Linux NUC (no video card, only integrated graphics):

This shot was taken the next day, not immediately after (I should have waited in game longer for the day to brighten), so the fact it is darker is more about the time of day in game. Next time I’ll get a pair of screenshots by grabbing one when I log off, then hopping on my other computer to get another.

I’ve got more things to try out with Stadia – controllers, and of course playing ESO on my Android phone, because I can! Am I’m really curious how well it works.