After a little fact checking (on the part of Blizzard) and some discussion about if it was a legitimate claim, Canadian Diablo III player Kripparrian (with help from wizard friend Krippi) is officially the first person in the entire world to complete Blizzard's RPG on the Inferno difficulty level. He did this with a Hardcore character to boot, which means that the game ends if you die.
The popular indie documentary about indie game development will be the very first feature-length film to be made available on Steam. Indie Game: The Movie will be available on Steam June 12, but those who buy it early before its release can get a ten percent discount. According to filmmaker James Swirsky, the 1080p video "will be DRM'd as much as any other Steam product/game," which means you'll need to be running the steam client in order to watch it.
Venture Beat has a fascinating report on a new Detroit-based startup called Are You a Human, who want to replace that irritating CAPTCHA text people have to use to prove they are human on just about every website on the Internet with playable mini-games. Obviously we endorse any idea that can eliminate CAPTCHA because it's irritating on so many levels...
How long does it take to complete the single player campaign in Diablo III on Normal difficulty? I have no idea, but it took Level 32 Barbarian Yoshichan 12 hours and 29 minutes to beat Blizzard's freshly released game. This NeoGAF post (thanks Eurogamer) shows off a final shot of the Barbarian character's stats.
Andrew Eisen, E. Zachary Knight, and I have been toying with the idea of doing a podcast for quite some time, and after much discussion, consternation, and a couple of dry runs with the process of recording and editing one, we've finally come up with our first episode. We're calling it the "Super Podcast Action Committee," mainly because we like the idea of being part of a Super PAC, but without all the red tape and influence peddling.
Adriasang reports that Square Enix has launched a free streaming music service that you can access with PC and Android devices. Though the site is intended for those who reside in Japan, you can get at it directly from your PC by visiting the streaming music website. Most of the site is in Japanese but there is a small bit of English as well - enough for just about anyone to figure out how to navigate around the site.
To avoid some potential legal problems related to shadow rendering code Creative Labs apparently holds a patent to, id Software has decided to hold off on releasing the code. Rather than risking legal action, id Software co-founder John Carmack has decided to rewrite part of the Doom 3 engine's code. Yesterday it was revealed that id Software had delayed releasing the code to the public because of Bethesda's concerns of potential liability related to the Creative Labs patent.
The Department of Defense have developed a new simulation technology to help the Navy track enemy submarines and they are testing it by rolling it into a commercial computer game. The Defense Advanced Research Project Arm's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) software simulates tracking the evasive maneuvers used by submarines. The agency says that the software will soon be rolled into the ACTUV program's computers.
But the real kicker is who will get to test this new technique: simulation game players. DARPA has integrated it into the Dangerous Waters computer game by Sonalysts Combat Simulations and has made the ACTUV Tactics Simulator available online as a free download as well.
Consider this a PSA. If you are one of those people that do not want the print magazine to go the way of the dodo, then this Amazon promotion is just for you. Anyone that buys a game through Amazon up until December 31 can get a magazine subscription for 50 percent off. The magazines being offered are Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer, Nintendo Power, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine.
Here's how it works: you buy a game from Amazon within the promotion time period. They email you a special code. You visit this promotion page and put the magazine you want into you shopping cart, checkout, enter the promo code and then wait for your subscription to show up in your mailbox.
A year-long subscription is cheap too: $14.95 for PC Gamer, $19.95 for Nintendo Power, $14.95 for Official Xbox Magazine, and $18.00 for PlayStation: The Official Magazine.
With Halloween right around the corner, I found this Zogby poll about ghosts, the supernatural, and Halloween interesting. According to the pollster, 37 percent of Americans believe in ghosts (human or animal), with 23 percent saying that they have been visited by the dead. Spooky. Around 29 (3 in 10) percent have an interest in the supernatural. Another 20 percent say they have seen or heard a ghost.
Moving from the land of the dead to the living, 87 percent of people with children say their kids dress up in costumes and 71 percent trick-or-treat from house to house. Serial killers (such as Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers) costumes are called the most scary by 35 percent, with the walking dead and zombies next at 22 percent.
Any way you slice it, the Humble Indie Bundle being offered by Wolfire Games is a smashing success.
The pay-whatever-you-want bundle includes the indie games World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru and Penumbra Overture. All the titles are DRM-free and will run on Mac, Windows and even Linux. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds goes to the Child’s Play charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). By default donations are split evenly amongst the two, but users can even control how much of their purchase price goes to each organization.
The earthquake that rocked Chile last weekend killed hundreds and affected the lives of thousands more. Zam has a story on how the survival of a game-related accessory contributed a little hope to one of the quake’s survivors.
A 33-year old woman gamer named Karen, who lives in Santiago, was playing Guitar Hero: Metallica with friends when the quake hit. Many of her possessions were strewn about and destroyed as a result of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, but the survival of one specific object, a World of Warcraft Blood of the Horde stein, gave her a reason to believe that the rest of her family in Chile had survived the quake intact.
She wrote an email to the Taverncraft, the stein’s maker just days after the disaster, writing:
All i wanna say that you made a good product and little stein give me hope, and have family in Concepcion and the other region that are the most affected for the earthquake and when I see the stein without a scratch for me was like ... yeah maybe my family made it too... that day I couldn't sleep... and only yesterday i have news all my family from the south are alive :)
Karen also told Zam that she and her friends have continued to play games as a way to get through the aftermath of the earthquake.
Joe Stack, the man who crashed a plane into an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Austin, Texas last week, has certainly made an impact on society as well, with many debating his manifesto in the wake of the incident
Whether you see Stack’s final message as the ramblings of a madman, or as the ramblings of a madman tinged with perhaps a vein of lucidity, Newgrounds has a very short and simple 8-bit styled game up on its site that will allow you to walk—and fly—a few feet in Stack’s shoes.
Entitled Tax Time!, the game begins with users burning their house down before jumping in a plane to their final destination. Along the way, news items converge and users can crash their plane into a car to earn an “Auto Recall” medal. Upon reaching their final destination, the game displays the message “Justice is Served” and awards the player another medal for “Sticking it to the Man.”
The title was created by Newgrounds member Falcon who says that he enjoys “making stupid games in 24 hours or less.” The game was submitted on February 18th, the same day Stack flew his plane into the building.
A Kotaku reader in Long Beach, California happened by his local animal shelter and noticed that a section of it was sponsored by a videogame developer.
Uncharted, Jax & Daxter and Crash Bandicoot developer Naughty Dog apparently donated funds for the upkeep of one kennel in the facility. We agree with the Kotaku author’s take on the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding the do-gooding:
Know what I like most about this? This is the first I've heard of it. There wasn't a press release issued with pictures of it being built, or a Spike TV segment showing some guy dressed up as Nathan Drake cuddling lost dogs. It's just...something that's been done.
A picture of the Kennel accompanies the Kotaku post.
Good Naughty Dog.
We've written before on GamePolitics about Ray Tenorio (left), a member of Guam's Senate who also happens to be a hardcore World of Warcraft player.
But Tenorio has an announcement to make about his next political move, and he sent it here, which is kind of cool:
Hafa Adai (Hello) Game Politics.com.
I hope everyone at GamePolitics.com are healthy and doing well. As most everyone in WoW are eyeing level 85 in the Cataclysm expansion, waiting to take down the Lich King and still grinding heroic Ulduar...
I wanted to let GamePolitics.com know first that I am running for Lt. Governor with my friend, Senator Eddie Baza Calvo, who is running for Governor...
I want to let your readers know that, among the numerous web sites and related comments to the articles about my gaming life some years ago, I understand the issues faced by the people who write on GamePolitics.com.
Perhaps together, we can continue to let people, voters and those in positions of authority know that gamers are the same as those who do everything from clean public parks, fight and die for democracy, conduct intricate procedures in professional careers, and, Yes, even make policy...for our communities, everywhere around the globe. That simple fact is rarely said but is the basis for an even broader discussion on the depth and breadth of people who enjoy gaming and still carry out their responsibilities.
Tenorio's WoW character is Paleray, a level-80 Dwarf Priest on the Silverhand server. He belongs to the Knights of the Marianas guild.
Guam is a territory of the United States and has one non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tenorio is a member of Guam's 15-member unicameral legislature.
Yesterday we happened upon AbleGamers, a website devoted to assisting and building community among gamers with disabilities.
Among other services, AbleGamers provides reviews of games and peripherals with an eye toward how effectively they can be utilized by physically challenged gamers. The site was founded by Mark Barlet, who explained his motivation to writer Scott Thompson:
My dearest friend in the world and I use[d] to use games as a way to bridge the distance between us as we grew up and started our own families. The game of the day was Everquest, and the hunt was on Friday nights. Well, one day she and her hubby did not log on. I waited. After about 15 minutes, I gave her a call.
She was crying "Mark, I can't feel my hand, it is not working" and she handed the phone to her husband. 4 months prior to that night, she was told she has Multiple Sclerosis... So I said to myself that there had to be a site about disabled people and gaming... there was none. So I started one. I am disabled myself, and while my disability does not really interfere with my gaming, I could relate.
Barlet points out that things like remappable key bindings, adjustable controller sensitivity and closed captioning for voiceovers can make an otherwise inaccessible game playable to disabled individuals. Why, he wonders, are such features not standard on games?
For a good example of what AbleGames is all about, check out the site's coverage of Microsoft's Project Natal and how it will impact disabled gamers.
For today's geography lesson, we defer to Unterbahn, where Jeffrey Warren found a way to map London in Warcraft II style:
Take a look at this map of London with a Warcraft II theme; I used GSS/Geographic Stylesheets and Cartagen to create a custom map style that displays the entire world as if it were a Warcraft II level. This was done to showcase the abilities of the dynamic mapping framework Cartagen, which is open-source and runs in HTML5's Canvas element. No Java or Flash!
In a remarkable game-based social experiment, Robin Burkinshaw is using The Sims 3 to model a two-person homeless family.
The U.K.-based game design student tracks the virtual lives of the father-daughter pair via his Alice and Kev blog:
I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes. It’s based on the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3’s living neighborhood features.
New American Media has more:
Kev is an insane, middle-aged man with a bad temper, who hates children. He often behaves inappropriately around others... His daughter, Alice, is a teenager who is constantly exhausted from school, the part-time job she holds, and the cold hard bench she sleeps on at night. And because she gets most of her meals at school, she becomes worried every time the weekend rolls around. You will usually find Alice desperately trying to find a bed to sleep in...
GP: It's fantastic to see someone addressing a real issue in a meaningful way via off-the-shelf game tech...
Just in time for the July 4th celebration, Crispy Gamer has posted a terrific compilation of fireworks scenes from video games.
Check out the video here.
The Washington State Senate has passed a resolution commending Penny Arcade founders Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik as creative types, businessmen and philanthropists. The legislative body also noted the 10th anniversary of the popular site.
Both Holkins and Krahulik hail from Spokane.
From the resolution:
WHEREAS, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik recently celebrated the comic's 10th anniversary;
and WHEREAS, In 2004, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik launched the first annual Penny
Arcade Expo, a gaming festival... and WHEREAS, The Penny Arcade Expo attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe to visit the city of Seattle...
WHEREAS, In 2003, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik created the Child's Play Charity, an organization which raises contributions of money and toys to donate to Children's Hospitals worldwide; and WHEREAS, Child's Play Charity has raised over 4.5 million dollars for sixty different Children's Hospitals since it was established...
Writing for UK newspaper The Guardian, author Cory Doctorow offers an eminently sensible fix for those confusing, consumer-unfriendly End User License Agreements:
Here's the world's shortest, fairest, and simplest licence agreement: "Don't violate copyright law." If I had my way, every digital download from the music in the iTunes and Amazon MP3 store, to the ebooks for the Kindle and Sony Reader, to the games for your Xbox, would bear this – and only this – as its licence agreement.
"Don't violate copyright law" has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: "You are not about to get screwed."
Cory also finds irony in the approach which content rights-holder take on the copyright issue:
The copyright wars have produced some odd and funny outcomes, but I think the oddest was when the record industry began to campaign for more copyright education on the grounds that young people were growing up without the moral sensibility that they need to become functional members of society.
The same companies that spent decades telling lawmakers that they were explicitly not the guardians of the morality of the young – that they couldn't be held accountable for sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, for gangsta rap, for drug-fuelled dance-parties – did a complete reversal and began to beat their chests about the corrupting influence of downloading on the poor kiddies.
Ditto for the video game industry. As GamePolitics has reported in the past, game publishing lobby group ESA hopes to takes its anti-piracy "education" program into elementary schools.
Could your addiction to World of Warcraft help green up the planet?
Possibly, according to Prof. Byron Reeves of Stanford. Appearing recently on the Living on Earth radio program, Reeves suggested that Smart Meters, which monitor household electricity usage, could be linked to WoW:
So imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn't before.
And if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world.
GP: There is, of course, no player ownership of houses in WoW, at least not at this time. The prof was apparently brainstorming possibilities that could be applied to MMOs in general. That's an old screenshot of my WoW character, by the way...
Valve founder Gabe Newell did some outside-the-box musing during his DICE Summit keynote, reports Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer.
Among other topics, Newell ripped DRM for games:
Newell believes that [DRM] that is presented as copy-protection gives a game a stink. It leaves customers unsure about how flexibly they can access their games. So they turn to pirates who offer games with fewer strings, he suggested. “There is evidence anecdotally that DRM is increasing piracy rather than decreasing piracy.”
Valve’s solution: battle the pirates by providing better services than the pirates do. The effectiveness of pirates, he said, is to get content to people who want it more swiftly and easily than the companies who make the content do. An outfit like Valve, however, can get provide even better service, even by doing something as intrusive as data-mining their customers’ computers — as long as they are transparent about it and can prove to the customer that taking such measures will make the customers’ games better.
GP: Nice... We're adding Gabe Newell to our list of game industry white hats who are keeping the most important person in the business - the game consumer - in mind.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering citizens the opportunity to try their hand at balancing its budget - or not - via an innovative web-based tool.
I can’t help but wonder how many urban planners were inspired to enter the profession by computer games like SimCity or Railroad Tycoon... these programs convey information about arcane topics like utility maintenance costs and right-of-way clearance in a fun and accessible manner...
Now the Kansas Department of Transportation has come up with a neat way to both educate the public about its services and get valuable feedback about customer preferences, using a game-like format. The T-Link Calculator allows you to set transportation policy in Kansas and see the fiscal results of your choices...
By presenting the information this way, [KDOT] reaches out to voters (particularly younger ones) who are accustomed to interactivity and immediate feedback from their information sources. I have a feeling that many people who would never think of sitting down and reading the state budget will warm to playing “transportation god” on this site.
Moreover, the site makes it clear that we can’t ask for everything from our government; tough budgetary choices have to be made...
In most legislative offices, the most exciting thing you'll find are brochures.
In Rep. Joe Pickett's office, however, you can try your hand at classic Mario Bros.
As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Mario isn't the only thing that's different about the Texas Democrat's office in the Capitol Building in Austin.
At his own expense, Pickett has remodeled his digs to look like a 1950s-era burger joint, complete with juke box. Visitors are offered free gumballs, soda and ice cream. As for Mario, the game helps keep state politics from getting too tense:
[Pickett's] chief of staff, says the old "Mario Bros. " video game is a mood elevator. One day a guy who wanted to argue some issue or other marched in with a fierce face, ready to rumble.
"He walked in and saw the old Mario Bros. video game," Chambers recalled. "He looks and says, `Awwwwwwww, I love that game.' It even destressed him."
Here's some holiday gaming awesomeness, just in time for December 25th.
The mp3 files are free to download and a physical CD, complete with appropriately retro cover, is available for a mere $15.
Here's the track list. Note the fun that the good doctor had with the titles: