The times…they are a-changin’…

OK folks, I get it. I totally understand. One month. ONE WHOLE MONTH.

Don’t understand? Scroll down.

Find it? June 10th since my last article. So….sorry. However…now I’M BACK!!

So what’s my excuse? Well, I guess I don’t have one. I will say, the good news is I’ve had time to reflect all music-video-style on my life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that…it’s crap. Well, at least it seems it should be. I just quit my job, I don’t really have a replacement, blah, blah, blah. On the other end, I have been doing this freelance thing (which, by the way, you should check out) that involves video game writing, news videos, and hopefully soon podcasts. I finally got my car fixed, and it was WAY cheaper than it should have been, (shout-out to Slodrive racing) and I’ve been able to play The Last of Us, which has been just fan-freaking-tastic, and a review should be on the way soon for it.

Now, to the main point of this post. Since I’ve been doing the freelance thing, a few executive decisions have been made for this website.

  • First off, don’t be concerned, the site isn’t going away.
  • Secondly, I am still going to keep up with news. As much as I can. In fact, It wont just be gaming and tech now. I’m going to cover as much as I can. Sports, Tech, Gaming, News, etc.
  • I’m also going to add little quips here, there, and everywhere. Opinion pieces, short news, even funny tweets, etc.

I know there are an extremely few amount of people (as of now) that follow this blog, so it’s not a huge deal, but I figured I’d give a run-down anyhow. Plus I needed an excuse for a new post…so yeah…



Opinion: Mind = Blown

The sun has set. The cards have been laid out.

Finally, for the first time in a very…very long time, I’m giddy. Giddy with excitement. Sure, the last few years and E3’s past we’ve had bombshells dropped. Big news, cool games and incredible innovations. Controversies, confusion and flops have also rued the day many a time at E3, but not today. No, not today.

I sit here listening to an oldie – ‘Losing my Religion.’

Up until tonight, my belief in games was dwindling. Not in the sense of giving them up, or thinking consoles were dead, but in the realm of user experience, customer relations, groundbreaking stories and originality. It was dawning on me that maybe, just maybe, it was about the broad spectrum, not the gamer anymore. Not that it’s intrinsically bad to have new tech sold to the Mom and Dad who will never mow down aliens or slay dragons for 10 hours a day, but would they be taking precious processing power from my sweet gaming escapes to watch TV? How dare they!

My belief in games was dying. More sequels and prequels than one could count, while gorgeous and entertaining themselves, lacked heart and innovation. Where was the passion? The ingenuity? The audacity to say “this shit is gonna be awesome – let’s make it.” I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a game and said “Damn. Just…damn that looks amazing.” Sure there were plenty of “Oh, Cool!” moments in years past, but nothing that glued my eyes to the TV, made my jaw drop, and then kicked me in the balls, while still making me walk away wearing a smile.

Now it’s ‘Everybody Hurts.’ I guess R.E.M. shall rule the night.

It is undeniable that the economic spectrum of gaming is changing – huge AAA titles and re-hashes with enough financial backing will be thrown at us until the cows come home, and it’s unfair to say games like that aren’t great in their own right. Indies were of course still somewhat thriving, but were either platformers, side scrollers, or things that while incredibly original and special, didn’t have the polish, look, and feel to compete with even mildly successful AAA’s.

Maybe it was me? Maybe I was just getting tired of the same ole’ same ole’. Or maybe I remembered wrong? Did I feel like this right before the 360 and PS3 strolled into our lives like a knight in shining armor riding a unicorn outfitted with belly-mounted grenade launchers that shit taquitos? I couldn’t remember. Well, now all I can think about is that awesome fucking unicorn.

‘King Without a Crown’ really? Matisyahu fits in with classics? You know what? I’ll go with it.

Then the sun rose this morning, full of hope and promise. The back of my head was still populated with contingency plans in case I was right – I’d cry, maybe smash a controller or two as an “I told you so” to myself. Would gaming take the seemingly inevitable turn towards the masses? Would it no longer be just about gamers, but now be a shared interest for non gamers alike? Again, not a bad thing to involve cool tech and innovation to gaming consoles to sell more, more money for the corporation meant more awesomeness for us…right?

Turns out…I was wrong. Microsoft, although keeping controversial DRM and connectivity policies, threw down, hard. Exclusives unlike anything Xbox fans had seen since…well, ever. Games that had stories. Taking advantage of every last resource given by the console, developers were once again being invested in. Yes, the mega-studios still cast an unmistakable shadow of dominance over so many others, but it was no longer tinged with disrespect. Microsoft took a huge leap of faith with millions of dollars of investments in studios both known and unknown, and they delivered, ten-fold. Maybe Microsoft will once again place a large amount of trust in indie devs. Maybe this is the stepping stone to finally matching Sony on exclusives. Microsoft was once again predictably back on top…

Sony on the other hand, for the first time in a long time, delivered. Totally blew the roof-off actually is more like it. Learning from lame E3’s past, taking the silver linings and positives from almost every mistake the PS3 made, and running with them, in the face of Microsoft, and every doubting mind out there. Showing all their glorious cards in one of the most spectacular presentations for gaming in a very long time, they re-affirmed their trust in gamers, as gamers had so often had to re-affirm their trust in Sony in years past. It was jaw dropping moment, after drool-educing jaw dropping moment. They not only matched Microsoft, but surpassed them.

‘The Impression that I Get’ Ok, this is taking a turn for the totally random.

Here’s the awesome thing though, it wasn’t a mismatched fight under any circumstance. It was an even playing field, face to face, but neither party won.

As so many incredibly well-matched fights so often do, they delivered and made the spectator the winner. Between the games, the hardware and software, the attitude, it was a slugfest that awarded the spoils directly to the crowd.

‘Learn to Fly’ Ok Fighters of the Foo, I will.

My faith has been restored. Although I loved games before, I now believe in them more than ever. Their power to force innovation, the ideas that spin out from them as a creative medium, their power to bring people together from different parts of the world, just to capture a single flag that ultimately isn’t even real. The power that they had when I was young. Not to take from Microsoft, but games in general are again my water-cooler. How did you beat that boss, did you see the visuals on that demo, did the music make you cry when your companion died?

Games made crowds cheer like they haven’t in years, they again made my eyes wide with anticipation, made me forget about why I was afraid for them, and made me harken back to sitting on the floor in my living room as a kid, playing Syphon Filter until the wee hours of the morning.

This has just been day one at E3, and however childish and stupid it sounds, games have again shown they do have special powers about them. Yes, sometimes that power is to teach much-too-young players areas of their vocabulary they probably shouldn’t know about yet, but every once in a while, they spark imagination, innovation, improvement and infinite insertion of alliteration.

Games have the power to turn us all into gawking 13 year-olds every once in a while, and for the last twelve hours, I’ve revisited memories that I haven’t had in a long time, leaving a smile on my face that will surely last into whatever Nintendo brings to the tabel tomorrow, and beyond.

My mind has been blown today, and whatever side of the green/blue/red fence you’re on, you can’t deny that with this new generation, nearly infinite possibilities rest at the hands of some of the most talented story tellers in the world, and dammit, I do love a good story.

Next Gen Cops and Robbers! Err…Cops and Racers

EA is at it again. No, not like that, it’s actually for something good this time, I swear! At least it is for racing fans…

Ghost Games is EA’s newest studio venture geared towards the PS4 and Xbox One. The Swedish studio is showing some swagger pretty swiftly when it comes to getting big names to help with their first game – Need For Speed: Rivals.

EA Has confirmed that on November 19th, we’ll see the latest installment of the hit racing game for the next gen. EA made sure the game’s development was in good hands, too. Marcus Nilsson, longtime DICE Studios man, is the Executive Producer on the project. For those worried about a new studio and a new Producer taking on the storied history of Need For Speed, he put a pretty encouraging post up on the game’s blog.

My crew comes from all over the world – some great guys with phenomenal experience making games at Bizarre and Turn 10 but also just generally kickass teams at Rockstar, DICE and Capcom. We’re all passionate about Need for Speed. They’re the driving games we grew up on, and that’ll show in what we are making. – Marcus Nilsson

If you want to read the entire post, head here.

Ghost Games is promising the game will be a departure from some of the more realism based titles released of late (although with new consoles, it’s sure to still be realistic) as only a true NFS game could be. It will be taking advantage of the processing prowess of the new consoles, especially with fluid switching between online and offline racing modes. Of course, the core of the game will be a battle between the fuzz and Ferraris (yes the red monsters have been confirmed to come back for Rivals, among others) adding experience for the player regardless of which side of the law they choose.

Excited? Here’s the trailer. EA and Ghost Games will be having a full reveal come E3, so stick around for more info. By the way, it’s also your video of the week, so enjoy.

Xbox TV series…?

Today, Microsoft revealed their well hidden, still in-development new gaming – or should I say – everything – console, Xbox One. Along with all of the super exciting talks, innovative presentations and sweet videos, there was one surprise that caught my eye more than anything. It was the culmination of many a night as a starry-eyed fanboy spending time staring into the dark sky wishing that a Marathon-class heavy cruiser would grace the air above me with its presence, maybe even lowering down the greatest warrior of all time to the ground in front of me.

Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries and mentor to super awesome females everywhere, supported by fellow upper-management  powerhouse Nancy Tellem, announced that there would be a Halo TV series coming to the Xbox One. This news headlines what many see as an attempt by Microsoft to join into the exclusive custom content creation that certain streaming services have began to undertake.

The ambitious project will have some experienced hands other than Ross’ and Tellem’s behind the wheel though. Steven Spielberg, the man himself, director and producer of nearly 200 titles, including smash hits like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, will be playing a yet to be confirmed role within the Halo series, that we can only speculate to be production, writing, or directing – possibly even a combination of the three.

In case you missed it, here’s the proof-laden pudding, courtesy of GameTrailers’ YouTube channel.

I can only hope this project fares as well as its live action cousin Forward Unto Dawn, and doesn’t suffer the same fate as its 2006 predecessor led by Peter jackson.

Looks pretty sweet, doesn’t it? No? let me know what you think in the comments below!

Review – Bioshock: Infinite

Bring us the girl…and wipe away the debt.”

Bioshock: Infinite is the latest foray into a steampunk style first person shooter by Irrational Games. Inspired largely by a combination of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and their first and second Bioshock games, Irrational created the floating utopia of Columbia…and millions upon millions of others…but you’ll find out about that later in the game.

The games introduction begins in 1912, with a small boat being rowed through turbulent seas, inside of which is Booker Dewitt (voiced by the fantastic Troy Baker), the man whom the player will spend plenty of time using to relentlessly kill, float, burn and commit many other generally awesome acts of violence towards enemies with.

After a bit of dialogue, off in the distance is a lighthouse dressed with goodies, plenty of blood, and a transport to the clouds. (Remind you of anything?)

After ascending to the clouds to find this ‘Elizabeth’ girl, you are brought to a room that looks shockingly like Rapture…but of course isn’t. A candle laden course of rooms flooded with running water guides you to an event that at this early stage, the player doesn’t understand the significance of – a baptism. After you nearly drown, you are granted access into the floating masterpiece that is Columbia.

Every year on this day of days, we re-commit ourselves to this city.”

Immediately, I was stricken by the immensity of the place – going on in the distance as if never ending. From cloudy vistas to the closest trashcan, Columbia was obviously designed and rendered with the utmost care, making sure to represent the vision of its developers to the fullest. It stood alone as a work of art throughout the game, propelling the story more than the audio and gameplay in some respects.

The best news was, from the perspective of a shooter, it had just about everything going for it. Not quite an open world, but open enough to take advantage of the environment and allow for plenty of time spent gathering supplies, planning wise attack and escape routes, and scavenging for clues to the wildly interesting story, even if I was inside a closed building. The open-ness it presented me was an advantage in combat, but one that was shared by my enemies so well that at times I found myself pursuing them behind cover instead of them gunning for me.

Hidden trinkets, upgrades, money, weapons and so much more were masterfully hidden in the maps, forcing me to explore the world and take my time unlocking every door available to get to those valuable little items.

What is Columbia if not another arc, for another time.”

Wonderfully complimentary to the intricate visuals was the incredible soundtrack and foley. Three dimensionality and proximity play a large part to many of the brilliant ‘hidden’ pieces of dialogue, so many of which only discoverable through happy accident or thorough investigation of the surroundings.

Every sound had a place, and they were placed well. Some sounds were even carried over from the original Bioshock.

“I mean, we’ve changed it to all new tools and all new environments and all new all that stuff, but those themes will remain very much the same. And then there are certain things that just worked. For instance, the quest sound and when your health is low there’s a heartbeat sound. We used exactly the same sound from BioShock 1, just because those live in the meta space as well, so the player’s already conditioned, and BioShock players especially, to understand what those things mean. And we worked really hard to get those right in the first game, so we were like ‘why reinvent the wheel here?’” IGN’s Andrew Goldfarb interviewing creative director Ken Levine

The best part about the sounds in Infinite weren’t just the sounds, they were the songs. Not only did the soundtrack do a beautiful job of helping set the mood and progress the story with superb melodic movements, it contained covers done so well, I took immediately to the all-knowing internet universe for the full versions, and once I found them, I was not disappointed.

The best part about the covers of famous Beach Boys, Cindi Lauper, and Tears for Fears (just to name a few) tunes was that they weren’t just thrown in. They were picked and performed with such an accurate representation of the story line at the time that I won’t ever be able to hear them without being taken back to the battle, moment, or turning point they tied into.

Are you afraid of god?” -Elizabeth

No .. But i’m afraid of you” -Booker

Infinite awarded me not only with amazing visuals, perfect sound, but amazing gameplay as well.

Tying into the original Bioshock’s plasmid system, throughout the game you are slowly introduced to super-awesome vigors. These vigors are drank instead of injected, but serve basically the same purpose in Infinite as plasmids did in the past games, with the difference being you have the abilities, but need salts to fuel the abilities. With salts being somewhat plentiful, especially late in the game, it became a nice compliment to the generally simplistic gunplay of the game. It was always nice to be able to set enemies ablaze after launching them into suspension in mid-air, only to have them tumble back to earth and take a moment to re-gain themselves, allowing you to kindly fill them with lead.

Filling enemies with lead was an interesting task in and of itself. Weapons were an easy thing to come by (although ammo not so much), and although there were many varieties of bad-guy-killing power, only a few weapons really separated themselves from the others. This was nicely counteracted, though, by the ability to head to vending machines and upgrade the gun of your choice with money collected along the way. (By the way, upgrade as much as possible, it’s nice to have later.)

Gunplay was very fun and used the unreal engine to the fullest. Aiming down the sights was encouraged, but in my case rarely used, especially due to the complexity and insanity of many of the battles.

Among the steampunk-y weapons and super-power like vigors, you had one additional tool – Elizabeth.

Why do you ask what?..” -Robert Lutece

..When the delicious question is when?” -Rosalind Lutece

Elizabeth was the girl you are sent to capture, who instead of becoming hostile, very rapidly became my biggest ally in Columbia. It isn’t often that I praise a game for its incredible A.I., but in this case, it’s warranted.

Elizabeth was the single most important thing in the game, she drove the story, tooled with my emotions, became almost like a daughter of sorts. She was the only reason I was able to plow through the game like I did, and she was also the motivation to do so.

She followed me like a dedicated puppy for most of the game, often pointing out important information or items. In battle though, is where she shined brightest. She constantly gave me updates on the enemies, what they were, where they were, how many of them there were. She threw me health and ammunition at the most opportune of moments, opened tears in the space time continuum (as to not reveal any plot lines – I’ll leave it at that) that gave me friendly turrets, robots, guns and perhaps most enjoyable to me, and to other gamers I’ve spoken to, she never got in the way.

The only qualm I had with Elizabeth in the game is that Irrational made it too easy for her. Enemies ignored her, she found items in a map that I had spent an hour scrounging in, and she never depended on me in any way that wasn’t already in the story line. It was like having a god on my side that was invincible and could just conjure up helpful stuff. I guess that’s not really a terrible thing though…

The seed of the prophet shall sit the throne and drown in flame the mountains of man.”

The story line was the biggest asset of the game, as it always seems to be with Irrational’s games. The writing and dialogue were done with eloquence and effectiveness, bringing forth emotions that made me play in ways that I normally wouldn’t. In one level, fueled by anger and distress at what had developed in the plot, I threw caution to the wind and killed as quickly and as brutally as possible, pushing through enemies like a freight train on steroids. This game took hold of me, strapped me into its roller coaster, and never let go for the entire 16 or so hours it took to conquer.

Despite being filled with enough substance to make me physically pause and reflect on parts of it, it still flowed seamlessly and left no possibility un-investigated. The nuances in the story lend themselves to a heavy re-play value, as things will happen and people will say things that wont make sense the first time through. Easter eggs and references litter the story and maps, but unfortunately the story is so well done that you wont notice them because you’ll have tunnel vision on finding out what the hell is going on in Columbia and why everyone seems to want Elizabeth.

There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man, there’s always a city.”

The game lives true to its title, a classic Bioshock experience at heart, yet with enough of a differentiation from the originals to make you forget all about them. It is a unique game that you’ll somehow feel like you’ve played before, and yet it’s not tiresome or boring in the least. Immensely creative and detailed visuals paired with sounds decorate what is a truly incredible first person shooter, and the fusion of vigors and tears with the gunplay make it as fun a game as fun as it is deep, and boy, does it get deep. Bioshock: Infinite is an culmination of quality development, art, and storytelling that results in an experience that only comes along every so often in a game. The rumors of DLC coming in 2013 give it even more appeal to play again if you have it, or to get it if you don’t. Solid, polished, awesome, Bioshock: Infinite gets 9.5/10.

A city at the bottom of the ocean? Now that’s ridiculous.”

Side-scroller comeback?

We all remember the glorious 2-D worlds of Mario, Contra, and Castlevania, and unfortunately, we also all realized their death was inevitable with innovations in the field of gaming coming at an incredible rate. However, a lot of indie gaming companies have recently been combining the self-propelling stories of 2-D platformers with the beauty, grace and depth of many modern games.

This is especially true for Eastern European developer NoWhere Studios, who’s new in-development game Monochroma has been turning heads since its reveal at GDC 2013.

Monochroma is a 3-D platformer that is incredibly reminiscent of the famed 2012 arcade game, Limbo. Much like its predecessor, Monochroma takes place in a world devoid of color, with exception to a little red scarf worn by one of the characters, and the player must perform an array of puzzling tasks to propel themselves through the game.

The similarities rest there, though.

IGN editors say that the game is designed to look as if the player was progressing through a visual representation the United States’s growth as a country, you start in grass fields, go through an industrial phase, and even into a look at a weird future world through what one can only assume to be the same rose colored glasses of the 1980’s that gave Marty McFly a hover-board.

A mysterious, stormy and dark world surrounding the player should invoke similar emotions to many horror/suspense games, but the puzzles will provide a much needed reprieve from what seems to be a world teeming with deadly traps and creatures of the night.

As you carry what we can assume to be your little brother through the unknown terrifying world, you will never lose motivation to take that extra step or push that interestingly placed lever, because instead of something chasing you, there is something you are chasing and trying to find. Plus, who could let down their digital little bro, I know I couldn’t.

From what we can see, the game obviously shares some base level similarities with others in the category, but goes much deeper with the environment and story.

Although the game release date is still just listed as “TBD 2013,” and it doen’t look nearly as polished as Limbo, I’m still psyched for this game, and its endlessly frustrating non-complicated puzzles that still manage to stump players over and over again.

If it’s anything like Limbo, and shares any of the same sit-down-in-the-dark-and-get-the-crap-scared-out-of-you-ness, then it’s sure to be a success. However, to be fair, it may be to early to compare it with the likes of Limbo. It seems to have enough depth of story and unique character development combined with innate simplicity, that it could separate itself from the understandably awe-inspiring task of taking down Limbo.

I guess we’ll just have to wait till’ it’s released. So with the utmost respect, hurry the hell up, NoWhere Studios.

Follow this development blog for everything Monochroma.

GTAV – Your rumor HQ

Rockstar North has been hard at work over the last, well, forever it seems like on the newest installment to the illustrious Grand Theft Auto series. GTAV has what seems to be a concrete release date of September 17th and is causing all sorts of buzz around the most recently released trailers surrounding the three main characters.

The three characters will all be playable, via a method that allows you to switch at will between them. Each also has their own specific traits and between Michael being able to temporarily slow time in a gunfight much akin to Red Dead and Max Payne 3, Franklin’s ability to slow time while driving to make a split second move, and Trevor’s Rage mode – which is self explanatory – Rockstar made sure to give motivation to use the new feature. Although the characters have these abilities, they can be improved in essential areas (not to the level of previous games, however) such as shooting, flying, etc., and these abilities aren’t points based. Simply by performing the activities, the character improves, so the more you shoot, fly, drive etc. the better you get.

Apart from the traits, the story mode will be dependent on using the three different players. In a demo released to the media in New York recently, the three were shown completing a mission that practically required a switching of the three, and with a smooth, non-interrupting flow to the method, Rockstar surely set minds at ease over the potential complicating factors of the swapping.

Equally as impressive to those in attendance was the new gunfighting engine created for the game. A meld between the many goods that Rockstar has done with third person shooting in the past, a more accurate, smooth, chaos-friendly approach was taken to ensure success with their newest addition to the popular series.

What all did they do to improve the gunplay?

  • Much improved transition animations for going in and out of cover
  • Brand new animations for a smooth run-and-gun experience
  • A new combat roll mechanic to be used for quick cover/egress
  • Much improved camera perspective that brings the player over-the-shoulder of the shooter
  • Three targeting options – snap-to, soft, and free aim
  • Improved death animations and a small visible ‘x’ on the reticle to confirm dead good/bad guy
  • Reticle now turns red when over an enemy
  • Partially destructible cover
  • Varying damage and dynamic differences for each weapon type
  • New varying body armor types
  • Re-vamped health system which regenerates to 50% after a fight

Want more? Go here to get a great article on the specific details of each feature.

You will also have more control over customization in this GTA than in any other in the series so far. In-depth car customization from appearances to performance are seriously cool, you can even over-tune a car to engine imploding levels. GTAV will even overtake Call of Duty when it comes to shooting with their new weapon customization options. Ok so maybe not the juggernaut that is COD, but it’s pretty damn impressive for a third person game like this to be able to switch scopes, mag sizes, flashlights, laser sights, among other things. Rockstar North did, however, take a 180 degree flip from their view on property, saying they will allow the purchase of homes, garages, marinas, helipads, and even options to invest in businesses for a return (Want a free cab ride? Give ’em some of that hard-earned cash as an investment). Of course all importantly, you will be able to give each character a haircut, tattoos and new new outfits to make them all your own.

Combine GTA IV, San Andreas, and Red Dead Redemption, and you are kind of on your way to describing the size of the playable world in GTAV. This world includes oceans to scuba dive to shipwrecks in, an entire mountain range to explore, and of course the concrete jungle that is Los Santos. Gangs still exist in Los Santos, but are less annoying here than ever. As long as you don’t pull a weapon, they don’t open fire. Oh you’re a cop? Sorry I didn’t notice. In that case, don’t bother coming into gang territory.

That little factoid should make the games main money making endeavor a bit easier.

The heist. It will surely become the go-to activity for all GTAV players. With up to six epic robberies rumored, there will be plenty of time to improve your bank-robbing tactics too. The best part of it all is the player’s ability to control every minute detail and plan the heist themselves. There are even side missions to get masks, suits, get-away cars, weapons, and other people to help, whose reliability can be determined by the money or effort spent in acquiring them. Cheap out on the hacker? You only get 30 seconds to grab the cash and go, whereas the more experienced guy could’ve gotten you an entire minute in the safe. Hell, you could start cheap, and as long as he survives, he’ll get better for the next time.

Crazy amounts of vehicles and toys will make you giddy as a school kid to just play around in the mountains around Los Santos, let alone the city, or the ocean for that matter. Newly developed off-mission activities are guaranteed to keep you occupied until the next big heist, and when you get that quick cash, go blow it on some cars, or maybe a house, no? You’d rather have a boat? Go ahead, get a chopper while you’re at it. With all of that, plus the biggest map ever, completely rebuilt mechanics and animations for gunplay, driving, flying and fighting, this game promises to be one of the best Rockstar North has released yet.

If you want to watch all the GTAV trailers released so far on a loop, or just need that fix to get through tomorrow, check out our YouTube channel.

Fight fire with fire, a new anti-pirating method

An indie game developer Greenheart Games have released a new game called Game Dev Tycoon, putting a clever spin on tycoon games of the past. The game itself pins you in a game development studio in the 80’s and challenges you to make new and awesome games building your company into a video game empire and quickly into fruition through the 90’s and 00’s, just like some of the biggest developers that occupy and rule the market today.

There’s a catch though.

Greenheart Games added a little bonus something to their newly released game for people who felt it prudent to avoid the astronomically high $7.99 purchase price by using a torrent to get the game. This bonus yielded some surprising and quite frankly shocking results for the indie developer.

The game was simultaneously released by Greenheart on their website store and on a popular torrent site, just to see what happened. The team, however, added something special to those who opted to pirate a copy instead of buy the game – they made those who pirated the game experience a little in game message after about 5-7 hours worth of gameplay building their empire.

“Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally.
If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.”

Seems harmless right? ‘Hey, we’re having troubles with pirates and are losing money on our game.’ This caused an uproar on their forums for the game from frustrated gamers.

The irony that followed on the message board was more incredible than I can possibly describe.

Why are their so many people that pirate? It ruins me!

Why the irony? Well, again, only those who pirated the game would receive the in game message that their company was slowly dying from piracy, so in a sadistic way, the company stuck it to those who chose to illegally obtain the game, while at the same time making a statement to gamers everywhere.

As of today, over 93% of copies were pirated.

The message? Piracy hurts people, companies, games, and ultimately by twisted fate, gamers. of the over 3,300 copies being played shortly after it release, Game Dev Tycoon had been pirated over 3,100 times. Less than 300 people had purchased it. At $7.99 per, that’s nearly $25,000 in missed revenue.

However staggering the stats and number are, a clear message from Greenheart Games assures fans the company isn’t upset. The following is from a blog post on their website.

To the players who played the cracked version!

I’m not mad at you. When I was younger, downloading illegal copies was practically normal but this was mostly because global game distribution was in its infancy. To be fair, there are still individuals who either can’t make a legal purchase because of payment-issues or who genuinely cannot afford the game. I don’t have a quarrel with you. To the rest who could afford the game consider this:

  1. Would you like to see a bigger/better sequel of Game Dev Tycoon in the future? Buy the game!Creating this game was already expensive and this was just a small game. If we ever want to make a bigger/better version we need a lot of support!
  2. Do you hate the trend towards social or pay-to-play free games? Buy games from independent developers! (start with ours :) )
  3. Do you hate the recent trends in the industryBuy DRM free games.

We are not wealthy and it’s unlikely that we will be any time soon, so stop pretending like we don’t need your 8 dollars! We are just two guys working our butts off, trying to start our own game studio to create games which are fun to play.

The game is DRM free, you can use it on up to three of your computers for your own use, you get copies for Mac, Windows and Linux, you can continue your game before piracy wrecked your company and we even aim to provide you with a free Steam key once the game is on Steam. All for a mere 8 bucks.

The actions of this company definitely out some common misconceptions to bed about pirating, at least in the small company scale.

  1. “Not everyone does it, so my one download won’t lose them anything”
  2. “They are super rich, screw ’em, they don’t need my money”
  3. “It’s cool, it won’t effect anything”

As someone who has pirated in the past, yes it’s a lucrative venture, especially for a poor college student. However, you dropped $60 on the 1,354,765,234th COD or Madden installment, why not $7.99 to support growing developers with a cool little game? We all complain that there’s too few original games with high budgets, super developers like EA make the same game year in and year out, and are now adding DRM to them in a fashion that destroys a good game’s reputation, that being said, it’s time gamers own up to the real issue: we are the problem, not companies trying to stop pirating.

If we stopped pirating, there wouldn’t be laughable fails on release day because of DRM complications, presumably in the small scale games costs would stay low because there was no need to balance price to pirated versions, and companies wouldn’t have to investigate the idea of DRM at the console level to stop pirating. Besides, most games have free demos, including Greenheart Games new one. Try it, if you like it, buy it. If not, don’t f***ing steal it. We are ruining the future of game quality and innovation, and with massive layoffs in the industry’s development levels, it’s time to own up and knock it off.

By the way (although their site is down now, presumably due to high traffic from the story) if you want to check the game out, please head here.

Xbox Next Gen rumor roundup

Recently Microsoft sent out their incredibly colorful and lively digital invites to the release of the next Gen Xbox. Ok so in true Microsoft fashion they aren’t colorful…or lively…but they are accurate – the third installment of Microsoft’s category competitor is coming May 21st, and you can watch the reveal live on your own Xbox 360 or Spike TV.

With the recent release of the Wii U and the reveal of the PS4, Microsoft has the advantage of seeing their opponent’s hands. The question is, will they rush to capitalize, or rely on their hard-core gamer fans to just blindly purchase what they will them to?

I vote the former, they will need to take the onus to improve on things they found the PS4 did wrong on reveal day.

What should we expect from the Next-Box though? A touchpad controller? 2-D hologram imaging? Well, obviously for the next few weeks, we won’t know. However, we can certainly speculate, which is the fun part, right?

Possibly the biggest rumor that’s been tearing apart the internet and upsetting many hardcore and casual gamers alike, has been the initial reports that the new console will have Always Online DRM security measures, in fact one Microsoft employee resigned from his position after going so far as telling critical gamers to “deal with it” in regards to the rumored feature. Well, good news folks, (at least it seems so) the increasingly disdained anti-pirate software, which one close friend described as “…using a hatchet where a scalpel is needed,” most likely won’t be present in the new gaming device. (UPDATE: IGN news is reporting there will be DRM in this video.) However, another problem that some gamers will be potentially fired up about will be the rumors that the new Xbox won’t allow for the owner to play used games, which is potentially devastating news to gamers on a budget and second-hand companies like GameStop.

There is actually a kernel of truth to a gaming console with DRM features though, the newly reported ‘Xbox Mini’. This miniature version of the new Xbox is rumored to be able to stream the new consoles games, and be a lower price point option for gamers. I wouldn’t put it past microsoft either, anyone remember the Xbox 360 Arcade version? It was a half-price little brother to the original 360, just minus the hardisk (and for some reason a white disk tray cover instead of the 360’s chrome) that was designed to boost sales to casual gamers and gaming families, and that’s exactly what the Xbox Mini is heavily rumored to be for, among other whispers, like the ability to provide backwards compatibility. However, with a potential game line-up like this, why worry about that part yet?

The rumored Xbox Mini won’t have a disk drive, so what will the Xbox (720/Durango?) be packing in that department? Well, recently released documents (although they are two years old) suggest a built in Blu-ray, which would obviously reveal a complete 180-turn for Microsoft’s opinion on the Sony tech. The documents also lean toward vast differences with the promising new Kinect device.

It can be pretty easily assumed that Kinect 2.0 will be at the center of the new Xbox’s experience, how it will integrated, is an entire other mystery. The only big thing we’ve seen is that there may be a wall projection device that shines the environment and surroundings of the game your playing on your walls. No, I’m not kidding. This rumor however, is a little more defunct than others, so we’ll have to wait until May to see exactly how that unfolds.

Luckily, although the Kinect will be a key element, the new controllers are speculated to be nearly the same as they are now, which is good news for current 360 owners, as the ergonomic design has become a fan-favorite.

Not so good news for dedicated gamers though, is that the new Xbox has been said to be “not for gamers” by some developers in-the-know. Check out the specs and vote for yourself.

So in essence, the next console may or may not have DRM software, may or may not let you play used games, may or may not allow backwards compatibility without separate Xbox Mini purchase, may or may not however be physically and visually immersive with Kinect 2.0, may or may not rock a Blu-ray player, and may or may not wont be for hardcore gamers. Sounds like we should just wait until May 21st, which, by the way if you want to watch the reveal, you can find out how and when here.

On that note, can we just go back to playing our curent consoles until May 21st? No? Well, I tried.

Quickie Review: iPad Mini Black Carbon Fiber Film Protector


I wanted to protect my new iPad mini, so, naturally, I took to the internet. I knew I wanted a soft cover, didn’t want to add any bulk, and I wanted to be able to still use my fantastic smart keyboard, so that took care of some of the choices.

After narrowing down my scope I found the ArmorSuit Military Shield Carbon Fiber cover. Hell’uva name, huh? Well, it looked pretty cool and seemed to have a pretty OK rating, so I went for it.

Receiving the product today, I opened the package only to find a myriad of instructions and some applicator solution (no, not the kinky kind) among other seemingly superflous stuff. Everything looked a bit complicated, so I went to watch the instructional video, which after laughing for a bit over the guy’s voice, I followed as exactly as I could.

What I found wasn’t pleasing.

For starters, the cover was curved and took a while to smooth out to apply, but that wasn’t a huge problem. The big problem, or at least one I can see coming up later as the cover gets more beaten up, was that although the video showed the cover could be removed if applied off-center, the area below the Apple logo tore the first time I had to remove to re-apply.

Other than that, the corners wouldn’t stick down properly which was frustrating to say the least. Of course, after reading some reviews on Amazon, this became evident as a less isolated issue.

Overall, it definitely looks cool, but a frustrating installation and low strength make me nervous for the long term. Wouldn’t recommend purchasing unless you’re just after aesthetics. Good thing there’s a life time replacement warranty, I guess.

If you want this product, which is available for any tablet and most smart phones, you can purchase from Amazon here.

My Results: