Making a console: Nintendo’s and Nintendon’ts

 

The Nintendo Switch is ready to reach the 2000 game threshold, but where does it go from there? 

It’s such a little piece of hardware, slightly bigger than a phone, smaller than most tablets but it packs a punch. It runs reasonably impressive games such as Zelda, Dark Souls and Fortnite without really any problems and the games library recently hit 1800 games… but there lies the problem.

While it might be impressive that such a compact, portable console can run intensive games, it’s no secret that Nintendo have never been one for keeping up with Joneses of the video game world. Sure, it’s impressive that the Switch can run a game originally released for the PS3 – but the PS3 was last generation, and graphics have moved on. The Switch, performance-wise at least, comes dead last in this console generation race.

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Developers make games for PC and with some minor alterations get them working on consoles. The PS4 and the Xbox One are about as powerful as mid market PCs. Modern games are built from the ground up to be extremely beautiful and technically impressive. Red Dead Redemption II for example takes up over 60GB of storage on the Xbox One. The Switch though? It only has 32GB of internal storage, meaning there isn’t even enough space on the hard-drive to store most modern games, never mind run them.

The Wii and the Wii U had the same problem. Developers just don’t want to make games for an awkward, under-powered console. Nintendo’s plan has always been to ignore this and instead make high quality games for their own console focusing on their own IPs that they hope will bring in both loyal fans and newcomers. This didn’t work.

For a while Nintendo was in a little bit of trouble. The Wii U just didn’t have enough high quality games to attract consumers to it, but the switch has found a rather clever solution.

Nintendo have opened the Switch to indie developers meaning anyone with some programming skills could make a game for the console. This has given The Nintendo library a much needed breath of fresh air. This turns the Switch’s weakness on their head. Under-powered becomes accessible and means anyone can develop for the console.

However: now the Switch market seems almost too accessible. Scrolling through new releases is like browsing the App Store, and the games there would be more at home on a mobile phone. This is a shame, as we know that the switch can do so much more.

The Switch is doing a lot right and has undoubtedly revolutionised gaming, and it’s great that it has a more expansive library than it predecessors. All Nintendo needs to make sure of is that it doesn’t over-correct. If it does, the Switch will have a bright future.

Mary Queen of Scots documents uncovered after almost 100 years

It’s International Women’s Day and one unlikely woman is in the lime light this year.

A group of documents believed to have been signed by Mary Queen of Scots have been uncovered after sitting in storage since 1920.

The handwritten documents give insight into the busy commercial life of Edinburgh in the 16th Century. During the inventory and conservation process, it was discovered that two of the documents have watermarks that can only be seen when held up to the light. One of these water marks features a goat while the other is a hand holding a flower.

 

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museum of Edinburgh said:

“The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past. It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature. We all know the story of Scotland’s Queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents, we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland. These documents help us to better understand her reign”.

The documents are very fragile and can’t currently be displayed to the public, so have been made available online to view. Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said:

“Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors, many of which are on display in our venues. However, some items, such as these documents, are too fragile to be on long-term display, so putting them online is a great way to showcase them and tell their stories.”

The documents were donated to the Museum in 1920s but were lost in storage, Frank Little, Service Manager for Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries in Edinburgh is optimistic that more treasures will be found in the archives:

“Our hope is that ongoing inventory work within Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will turn up new treasures. We are constantly reviewing, caring for and researching our collections, and look forward to sharing more of the City’s rich heritage with residents and visitors through our programme of exhibitions and online activities.”

The full collection of documents can be found here.

 

Scotland split between minimum and maximum Council Tax increase

All Scottish Councils have decided on their 2019/20 council tax increase; Edinburgh is one of 13 councils to decide on keeping a 3% increase, while those living in Midlothian will see a 4.79% increase, the largest allowed by the Scottish Government.

The 2017/18 Local Government Finance settlement included an agreement between the Scottish Government and local government for locally determined Council Tax increases to be capped at 3%. However, this has been increased to 4.79% after debate in the Scottish Parliament.

council tax

(Credit: Ryan Traynor, contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown Copyright and database right)

The split between 3% and 4.79% is relatively even. 13 areas have opted for 3% and 12 for 4.79%, with only a handful of councils choosing a rate in between.

Band D – the average housing type in Scotland – in Midlothian will have the highest increase with £60.62, taking residents’ annual bill to £1344.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have all opted to stay at 3%.

Reactions on social media have been mixed with some users saying they felt “betrayed” by the 4.79% maximum. Others thought that local government needed more funding, and were happy to pay more tax. More efficient spending was a concern shared by both sides.

As well as the ability to decide their council tax rates, local authorities will be able to charge a transient visitor levy and workplace parking charge.

Devolved benefits roll-out timetable announced

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced the timetable for the launch of  new devolved benefits yesterday.

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Infographic (Credit: Ryan Trayor)

Ms Somerville said: “The timetable I have set out is ambitious but realistic and at all points protects people and their payments. I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to PIP and introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes.

 

“There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great – a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart and which works for the people of Scotland.”

Today’s national news: March 1st

Rory Hill brings us today’s national stories from across the UK.

 

National Museum celebrates Chinese New Year

The National Museum of Scotland launched its new East Asian Exhibition today as part of a number of events across the Capital celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The exhibition follows Chinese New Year on Tuesday, and is part of a series of celebrations across Edinburgh which culminates with an official concert on Saturday 9th of February.

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The Exploring East Asia, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and The Art of Ceramics open on the 8th of February, concluding the Museums 15 year long, £80 million redevelopment.

Bruce Minto, Chair of National Museums Scotland said:

“This is a truly historic moment in the life of a great museum. The transformation of this iconic Victorian building on time and on budget is an achievement of which the nation can be rightly proud.”

“Our outstanding collections help us to tell a vast range of diverse and fascinating stories from across the globe highlighting the many Scots involved in invention, innovation and discovery.  These stories have engaged our many supporters who have given generously to help us achieve our ambitions and to whom I am extremely grateful.”

The Celebrations aim to draw in more tourism from China. This comes as Edinburgh City Council decides to back a £2-a-night tourist tax.

Images credit: The National Museum of Scotland.

 

Equine flu brings horse racing world to standstill

The British Horseracing Authority has banned all races in the UK after an outbreak of equine influenza.

The ban has effected Musselburgh Races, which was set to host a fixture on Sunday with eight races and a £160,000 prize – the biggest ever prize pot at The Races.

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said:

“We are naturally disappointed at losing our richest jumps racing fixture this weekend (Sunday 10 Feb) but the racing community is working together to minimise the spread of equine influenza and the decision by the BHA to cancel racing is without doubt the correct one.

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The £160,000 prize fixture will not be going ahead on Sunday. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“The industry does prepare for scenarios such as these and I am confident that the stringent procedures which are in place across the UK will ensure that racing is back and up running as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Vaccinated horses typically have mild short lasting symptoms, but this new strain is effecting vaccinated animals. The BHA said that the disease was typically not serious:

“Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge. It is highly contagious. Humans are not at risk from the virus, though can spread the virus on clothes and equipment.”

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All the horses are in quarantine and the stables are deserted. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“All of the trainers who had runners at the fixtures at Wolverhampton, Ludlow and Ayr this week have been informed that their yards have been placed under a temporary hold which means that they will not be able to make any declarations until their horses have been tested and cleared.”

Symptoms typically take three days to appear which means that the full extent of the problem won’t be known until Sunday.

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The prestigious race course will lose betting revenue because of the cancellation of Sunday’s event. The BHA say they are sympathetic, but must impose the ban. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

Bill Farnsworth hoped that the disruption to Musselburgh would be minimal:

“A decision will be taken on Monday by the BHA as to when racing will resume, and if our next meeting scheduled for Wednesday (13 Feb) goes ahead as planned, there will be free admission for all.”

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The disease is airborne, but not harmful to humans. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

The BHA only makes decisions on race horses but encourages all horse owners to seek professional advice and to get their horses vaccinated if they have concerns.

 

Committee discusses draft budget ahead of deadline

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Edinburgh City Chambers (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

The Edinburgh Council Finance and Resources committee met today to discuss the proposed Edinburgh City council budget.

The council must make £33 million in savings next year before the draft budget can be finalised in three weeks. Areas that could be effected are nursery teachers, Council workers, community police officers and leisure with reports in recent weeks of looming job cuts for up to 300 council employees.

Last night the SNP minority government reached a deal with the Greens to get the budget through the Scottish Parliament. For Edinburgh this deal brought the cuts down from £41 million to £33 million.

Councillors are also in discussions to introduce the UK’s first overnight “Tourist Tax”.

Green Councillor for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart,Gavin Corbett, gave his thoughts on the deal and draft budget:

“It doesn’t get round the huge and difficult choices that the city council has, but if you ask me is 33 million better than 41 million of course it is.”

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Gavin Corberr, Green Councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Under the draft proposals £350,000 will be cut from Edinburgh Leisure and parks, museums and public toilets would all be effected.

A representative From UNISON said that the spending reductions could see 300 jobs lost a year with 1000 in total by 2022/23.

The Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) warned of a knock on effect to children’s education if full time nursery teachers are cut. Alison Murphy the EIS’s Local Association Secretary warned that Schools would be left playing catch up if early years education is disrupted. However members of the  committee were sceptical and noted that some of the best preforming councils in the country don’t have full time nursery teachers.

Labour Councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, Maureen Child, was critical of the consultation process and felt it wan’t representative of the Edinburgh Public:

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Maureen Child, Labour Councillor for Portobello/Craigmillar (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

“If your looking after a vulnerable person you don’t have time to take part in consultations.

“We will have to radically change some of these services, and will have to expect more of our citizens to step up.”

Scottish Government pledges £30,000 to help prevent children going missing

The Scottish government has announced plans to finance a programme to support children and young people at risk of going missing.

Nearly two-thirds of missing person investigations in Scotland involve young people. The new scheme aims to educate this at-risk age-group on the dangers of going missing and how to receive professional help.

The programme has been awarded £30,000 funding by the government to tackle the issue from a preventative position.

Nearly 64%, of all missing person investigations in Scotland involve young people and the charity Missing People, one of two charities involved in the new programme along with Barnardo’s Scotland, say that these figures are likely to be a significant underestimate.

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Credit to missingpeople.org.uk

Only 1 in 20 children who run away from home seek professional help.

Missing Persons Operational Coordinator Yackson Bell from Police Scotland spoke about missing people in the Capital. Yackson estimates that in the Edinburgh about 54% of the 3,000 missing person incidents last year involved children.

Yakson pointed out that young people who run away put themselves at an increased risk of experiencing crime or sexual exploitation:

“We live in fear of that on an almost daily basis.”

“All these risks are heightened if a young person goes missing.”

“If we can raise awareness of that then its something that then we support it 100%.”

You can listen to Yackson Bell talk about the programme here.

 

Fizzy drink health crisis?

A report released by Cancer Research UK revealed children’s shocking fizzy drinks habits, but is this the full story? 

Newspapers are no stranger to doom and gloom,  just today we were told that every day Scottish children consume 600,000 fizzy drinks a day. However this isn’t the full story.

The report released by Cancer Research UK looked at the diets and obesity levels of Scottish children. They found that 1 in 4 were obese, with fizzy drinks being a contributing factor.

Despite consumption of fizzy drinks being high sugary fizzy drink consumption has actually fallen by 21%.

Researchers have been calling on the Scottish Government to further the limit the advertising and sale of junk food special offers. despite the average Scot consuming 12 kilocalories less in fizzy drinks everyday, the consumption of junk food such as confectionery biscuits and cakes has been steadily increasing since 2010.

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Fizzy drinks currently on the market.

There are calls for the Scottish Government to do more when tackling the obesity with suggestions that restrictions on multi-buy offers on junk food and fizzy drinks which could limit children’s intake.

However, the government is holding a consultation for restricting the advertising of unhealthy food. Members of the public have until the 9th of January 2019 to take part.

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