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Items from the Mail Bag – In the Material World June 26, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Hardware, lego, Mail Bag.
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7 comments

Another visit to the mail bag, which for some reason features a lot of actual things.  It also shows that press releases will go out to just about anybody these days.

A Love Letter to DOOM

I am always a fan of people who tackle gaming topics in actual printed book form.  Being over a certain age, getting somebody to publish that sort of thing lends legitimacy to the whole genre, even if it isn’t likely to make any best seller’s list.  So I was interested to see a press release for DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST.

DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST

DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST

According to the press release, this 200 page book covers the creation of DOOM, how it impacted the industry, pushed online multiplayer and modding, and spawned many imitators.  The book jacket quote:

This book is a love letter to DOOM and its various creators, written by a highly educated and devoted scholar and player. The book offers a well-grounded sense of the game and does an excellent job working its way through a range of topics: from the software company to the graphics engine to the story to the sound to the final game.”
—Katherine Whitlock, California State University-Chico

Never having actually played DOOM (I was working on Mac OS at the time, so Bungie’s Marathon kicks off first person shooters for me) and not being a particularly dedicated shooter fan, some of this will no doubt be lost on me, but it is nice to see it getting recorded somewhere.

D-Link Router for Gamers

D-Link sent me a press release for their new router for gamers.

Available in August

Available in August

This one interests me because we have to share a rather small pipe to the internet at our house and the tools available for apportioning out bandwidth seem to be to be rather primitive.  Looking at the we page for the router, it looks like they are headed in the right direction.  And, frankly, things like Quality of Service shouldn’t be rocket science at this point.  I am not going to run out and pre-order one, but I will look for reviews to see if it actually works as described.

FitDesk for the Happy Family

FitDesk is a company that sells equipment that allows you to use your electronics while you exercise.  A noble calling, or at least one with some merit.  I recall a story from a few of years back about a guy who bolted his laptop to a treadmill and spent all his World of Warcraft time walking.  He lost weight and got into shape while raiding.  So I have nothing snarky to say about the idea really, except that the picture they attached to the press release they sent me is a bit… odd.

Happy, happy family!

Just like no family ever

The thought process that lead to this would be interesting to map.  Put dad in the chair.  Have him smiling, happy that his son is getting exercise. Hand him a laptop to show he is tech savvy.  Give him a smiling trophy wife about his son’s age.  Have those two gaze fondly at the son while he plays his game completely undisturbed by this attention.  And no sweating!  We don’t need to remind people that exercise makes they moist and smelly.

Life in the world of advertisements.

LEGO Middle-earth Rolls On

And the people at LEGO continue to send me pictures of their latest and greatest stuff, like this Tower of Orthanc set.

LEGO Saruman

LEGO Saruman

Unfortunately, the age of LEGO seems to be pretty much over at our house.  My daughter is in the pre-teen stage and becomes quickly bored when forced to do things like assembling LEGO kits with dad.  Time marches on.  Now we’re worried about paying for college.

Items from the Mail Bag – Press Releases and Special Offers Edition April 8, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Mail Bag, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

Digging into the mail bag, another reminder that I haven’t felt inspired to write about much new of late.

Darkfall: Unholy Wait

Aventurine sent me the press release announcing that Darkfall: Unholy Wars would finally launch on April 16th, after a five month delay.

DFLOGO B-450

Back in September of 2012 they announced that the original Darkfall would shut down on November 15th to make room for Unholy Wars, which was slated to launch on the 20th of the same month.  And then… well… the Aventurine reputation needed to be maintain.  So here we are, seven months after that announcement, and the game should launch next week.

Now, the press release points out that this time was well spent, that much was learned from the beta.  We shall see next week.  Maybe.

Blizzard Remains Steadfast

After running out my seven free days of World of Warcraft, I remained on the fence about whether it would be worthwhile to subscribe or not.  And then, ten days later, I received an email from Blizz with a subject line asking me to resubscribe to the game.

WoWResubNow

I was intrigued.  I wondered if Blizz might sweeten the deal now that they had me thinking about the game.  A special offer might have been enough to tip the balance.

But there was no special offer.  It was just a link to the standard subscription page.  Blizz isn’t at a point right now where it feels the need to anything special to get people to come back.

Twitter Pushes Advertising

Twitter has decided that I am a small business and, as such, I need to advertise on their service.  So I received a whole stream of messages from them offering me a free $50 advance on my advertising.

TwitterAd

I have not taken them up on their offer, having no idea what I would even promote.

Mega Wars IV

Crimson Leaf Games, which recreated the classic CompuServe game Mega Wars III that I poked my nose into ages ago, has taken the idea a step further and created Mega Wars IV which includes a full graphical client done in Microsoft Silverlight.

MegaWars4

Interestingly, Stellar Emperor, the version of the game that ran on GEnie, which I have also covered, went this route in the early 90s, adding on a graphical client and updating the game, thus diverging it from what stated off as its twin, Mega Wars III.

Populist Wish Fulfillment

I keep getting press releases around a film titled Assault on Wall Street.  The synopsis for the picture is:

Jim is an average New Yorker living a peaceful life with a well paying job and a loving family. Suddenly, everything changes when the economy crashes causing Jim to lose his job, home and wife. Filled with anger and rage, Jim snaps and goes to extreme lengths to seek revenge for the life taken from him.

The poster shows the star, Dominic Purcell a pistol in one hand, a combat rifle in the other, with bullet riddled NYPD cars and SWAT teams deploying in the background.

So, yeah, gun violence.  I guess that takes Occupy Wall Street up a notch.  Let’s go kill the 1%!

Given that the only name I recognize in the cast is Eric Roberts, and that they are sending press releases to random gaming blogs, I am going to guess they couldn’t get any funding from those in the 1%.

World of Tanks Rolls On

Wargaming.net is very good about sending out regular press releases.  Two big things they have coming up are the World of Tanks 8.5 update, which includes more German tanks, redone maps, and changes to what non-premium accounts can do.  There is a preview over at The Mittani.

And then there is World of Tanks Blitz.

WoT_Blitz_Logo_800px

This is Wargaming.net’s attempt to bring World of Tanks to mobile platforms.  Featuring 7 vs. 7 battles, I will be interested to see how they translate their Windows shooter to that mobile world.

Items from the Mail Bag – Barrel Scrapings and the Like January 29, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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10 comments

Mail bag was going to be a regular monthly feature, but frankly the mail I have been getting on the blog account really hasn’t been living up to the role.  Still, I do get something amusing now and again.  A pity none of it showed up recently, so this is all you get.

Three Kias, One Cup

The Kia Motors Overseas Communications Team ( 해외커뮤니케이션팀) wants me to go connect with their Facebook page so I can play a flash based tennis game featuring players that are, if I understand this correctly, anthropomorphized versions of their cars.  The SoulSorento, and Cerato to be specific.  Except I think that last one is sold as the Forte here in the US.

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

All because Kia sponsors some aspect of the Australian Open… which is a tennis tournament.

I had to look that up.

I almost want to go play this, just to see how they get that lumpy Sorento to move its ass around the court.  But a surge of apathy has stayed my hand so far.

Still, don’t let me stop you!  You can find the page on Facebook here.  Just be quick, as the game only runs from January 16th through the 31st.  Of course, they only sent me this note on the 29th, so clearly my participation was not all the important.

Aventurine Fails Again

Aventurine sent me a “Media Alert” to invite me to come and explore the world of Agon, which I am afraid always brings up images of Larry Storch.

A little whackier than this though

A little whackier than this though

Unfortunately for Aventurine, all they actually had for me was a link to a dev diary video about their upcoming (some day) Darkfall: Unholy Wars reboot.

Then they listed out the price of the game ($14.95 if you are a Darkfall Online returning player or $29.95 (25% off) if you are new to this game) like they expected me, a member of the media (who else gets “media alerts” right?), to actually pay for it myself.  This is how you get 2/10 reviews.  (Though I still suspect there was a method to their madness.)

Haven’t we all learned by now that companies can get game journalists to degrade themselves and their profession with a few simple freebies?  Playing it straight is a mug’s game.

The Soda Sipping Inside Joke?

I keep getting press notices about a game called Soda Drinker Pro, but cannot tell if this is just the internet yanking my chain or not.  The quotes sound tongue in cheek.

Soda Drinker Pro is the most advanced soda drinking simulator ever created

While sites like Gamasutra have reprinted the press releases due to contractual obligations.

Mashable has a brief write up, but it still ends up sounding like an internet goof.

I have to think that the only reason I got this was that I have written about soda, and soda experiments, here in the past.

Somebody Sued Facebook

Which probably isn’t news, but the announcement showed up in my email.  It was something about sponsored stories.

Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement (“Settlement”) of a class action lawsuit (“Action”) filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called “Sponsored Stories.” According to available records, you may be a “Class Member.”

What is the Action about? The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

You can read more about it here.  If Facebook used your likeness without your consent, it could be worth a sawbuck to you.

Meanwhile if the suit succeeds the lawyers will all get paid for the hours they billed and Facebook will have to change their terms of service so that by accepting them you allow Mark Zuckerberg to do whatever he damn well pleases with your likeness.

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

So who is going to win here?

Raptr Has a List!

Raptr sent me a list of awards they made up and gave out for 2012 based on their game tracking stats.

  • Most Played New Game – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played Game (Released Anytime) – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Biggest Boost from User-Generated Content – Portal 2
  • Most Played Long-Awaited Sequel – Borderlands 2
  • No Bathroom Break – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played XBLA Game – Minecraft
  • Most Played New IP – Dragon’s Dogma
  • Most Successful Paid to Free-to-Play Game – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Some of those make sense, while others… I am not so sure.  The “Bathroom Break” bit probably relates to a measurement of play sessions, but how did they come up with “Long Awaited Sequel?”  Was Borderlands 2 really that long in showing up?  Relative to what?

Meanwhile, their last category almost always reflects a sentiment of “crap, we’d better mention MMOs!”  They used the same category as 2011, but this time they managed to combine it with an attempt to suck up to EA/BioWare.  Or does somebody think if you were going to mention MMOs that there weren’t other categories or titles you might choose?  “Most played MMO” or  GuildWars 2 certainly springs to my mind.

Anyway, you can read their full post here, which includes some additional details.

The Rest

Finally, I seem to be getting more and more messages asking me if I would like to come write for other sites.  These invites are rather transparent requests to please provide free content for such and such a site to exploit for ad revenue.

It is the sources of these requests that are getting more interesting.  I had one from a web media group from everybody’s favorite Germans, ProSiebenSat.1 and another from a group that purports to run the largest MMO gaming site in China.

All I can think is, “China?”  My Larry Storch jokes are probably too obscure for Cracked.com, how would they possibly play in China.

Anyway, send me something interesting that isn’t about your 99 cent iPhone app and maybe I’ll make fun of it.  As always, contact info is on the About page.

Items from the Mail Bag – Prizes, Discounts, and Volvo November 9, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Mail Bag, Rift, World of Tanks.
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4 comments

Time for a return to this irregular feature where I pull items from the blog’s email in box and display them for all to see.

I haven’t done this for a bit because most of the blog email has been music industry press releases or people asking me to please review their iOS or Android app.  However, aside from the Pet Shop Boys (and I am sorry for you guys if it has come to sending press releases to the likes of me) I haven’t a clue about any of the musical acts.  And as for iOS and Android apps… well… most of them were unimaginative knock-offs of other games from indie devs and I have a general editorial policy of not posting about such things if I do not have anything nice to say.  Big companies or big names can survive some mocking.

Still, a few items worthy of mention or mockery have shown up, so on to that.

Raptr Gives Me Some Hats in Rift

Raptr is the game time tracking tool I have been using since late 2010. (See me here)  It is a competitor to Xfire and was, in fact, created by some of the same team that originally created Xfire.  My main complaint about Raptr is that they do not display game time stats the way Xfire does, so you cannot do things like Nosy Gamer’s weekly Digital Dozen.

Instead they are trying to be more of a social network.  They want you to interact with your friends there.  They want you to do reviews there.  They want you to blog there.  And the really want you to hook Raptr into your other social networks.

I have done the latter primarily because I have a special crap Twitter feed you should not follow and a Facebook profile you probably shouldn’t be friends with. (Because look what happens.)

And, they offer up special deals, which usually amount to “please come play this game, we’ll give it to you at a steep discount and/or free.”  But once in a while, something I actually want comes up, like hats.  I just got this in email last night.

This was part of a push to get you to connect Raptr to Facebook I guess, but it actually came with a prize I might wear in Rift.  While I can run around with awkward mis-matched armor, I will go out of my way for a good hat.  So I get this next week when Storm Legion goes live.

A hat and goggles!

I am also eligible for a helm that looks like it was inspired by Half-Life 2.

Good for the aspiring cyclops

I think I will just stick with the hat and goggles.  I wonder if they can be dyed?

Meanwhile, if Trion is going to work with Raptr, I wish they would get Rift achievements hooked up into Raptr the way Steam and Blizzard have.  Ah well.

World of Tanks and Veterans Day

Wargaming.net is doing a special for Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.  They have a charity offer for veterans organizations, plus the usual buffs; 5x bonus experience for your first win of the day in each of your tanks and they are giving credit bonuses to a few tanks I do not own. (B1, T-34, M4 Sherman and PzKpfw VI Tiger)  Details here.

And they are giving away 24 hours of Premium service, which enhances your experience and credits earned even further.  The code for this is VETERANSDAY and you can read about how to redeem the code here.

LOTRO – Spend More, Save More

Lord of the Rings Online also has a deal going this weekend which basically amounts to the false economic proposition of “the more you spend, the more you save!”

The offer

If you were planning to buy something expensive, this might be a boon.  However, I cannot see myself spending 3,000 Turbine Points just to save 30% off of something.

EQInterface Prize

The team at EQInterface, which hosts UI mods for EverQuest, along with sibling sites for EverQuest II, Vanguard, and World of Warcraft, was celebrating their 10th anniversary back in… August I think.  They had a trivia contest about the site and I apparently was a winner.  I got a notification about it back in September.  However I still haven’t gotten anything because they are still trying to get in touch with all of the winners.

So I continue to wait, but I still endorse their site for UI stuff.

Crash with Volvo

I keep getting notices from Volvo about their new iOS/Android game called Volvo Transporters.  I suspected it would mostly be an ad for Volvo, but I grabbed it because it had the virtue of being free.

Volvo truck off the rails

And, yes, it is something of an ad for Volvo.  It throws little Volvo factoids at you like how much food in the EU is hauled by Volvo trucks or that if you lined up all the Volvo buses ever made you would be well on your way to simulating the 405 freeway at 5pm on a Friday.

Basically, you drive a truck… a Volvo truck no doubt, but it is too small to see the logo… and have to drive over power ups to transform your truck into the vehicle appropriate for the hazards in the area.  So for fires, you need a fire trucks, garbage requires a garbage truck, piles of muck require a front loader and so on.

Front loader in action

I will say I was happy the game was not one of those tilt-to-steer apps.  I find that the iPad has too much mass to steer smoothly or accurately and so the big reason I think that Sonic the Hedgehog racing game is horrible is because I cannot steer very well.  That and it is such a complete rip-off of Mario Kart games I am surprised that Sonic doesn’t feature a mustache and a little red hat.

That said, it requires a finger swiping action to steer which, combined with the odd “two-thirds off the rear quarter and fluctuating” viewing angle, wasn’t exactly winning me over.  But then again I have big hands with all the agility of a cinder block, so maybe I had best stick with board games like Ticket to Ride on the iPad.  You can see a video of somebody who can actually play the game here.

All in all though, I came out of the game having crashed often and with no additional desire to buy a Volvo.

Which is to say, I would still like an 1800ES.  But that desire goes back a long ways.

Items from the Mail Bag – Absence Makes The Heart Something Something Edition August 14, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Mail Bag.
Tags: , , , ,
5 comments

I started up “Items from the Mail Bag” as a regular feature a while back, and then totally dropped it for the last few months.  This was primarily based on the quality of items showing up.

For example, I already mentioned Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess once, so the next 9 emails to me on that topic were something of a waste.  I have also already mocked a couple of people who were essentially offering to let me write free content for their ad-driven site under the guise of “giving” me better exposure. Again, some jokes are only funny once.

In addition, I seem to have gotten on the distribution list for some PR group handling album releases for bands I have never heard of.  Of course, I am old, so bands I have never heard of is a pretty large category I suppose.  Still, I was amused to see that the title in the press release for deadmau5 did not, in fact, indicate that there was some sort of mail merge issue.

Do people still use mail merge?  Do they still call it that?  It was a big deal in the 80s, but I am going to guess there is a Web 2.0 term for it now.

Anyway, I think I have accumulated enough interesting/pathetic/amusing notes from my in box that are close enough to the topic of games and gaming that it is time again to share.  So, in reverse chronological order, I give you:

Planes of Merinia MMO – Budget Slightly Less Than SWTOR

Phillip sent me a note asking me to publicize his attempt to fund his MMO project via Kickstarter.  So, there is the link.

Another well mowed 3D landscape

Called Planes of Merinia, it offers… well… this:

In Merinia, you do not choose a class. Instead, you can learn skills, spells, and crafts from multiple classes. You can learn healing, fire magic, and sword master, for example. As you gain levels for your character, you can increase your set of skills. Your skills only level if you use them.

In Merinia, you can construct your own weapons, armor, artifiacts, items, etc. Included in the game is an item editor. Create a vorpal sword, or a golden bag. Whatever you can imagine. Items can have scripts attached to them, allow for animation, actions, and special events.

The game is allegedly 65% complete as is currently slated for a February 2013 release.  The money being raised, $20K, is to get art assets and level (zone?) designer involved.  The whole thing strikes me as a low budget Darkfall, but I am not sure I want to go there.

Master Blaster – The Gun for Your 5D Home Holodeck Thingy

It is a controller that looks like something a space marine should be carrying.

Too awesome to be fully displayed in a single photo I guess

This is an Indiegogo project… which is something like Kickstarter I guess… where you can buy that gun controller thingy to use some sort of very expensive looking full room gaming environment made by a company called izone-3.  And it works with the Wii.

iOS Apps I Haven’t Bothered to Download

I’ve ignored them so you don’t have to… or something.  I don’t think it works like that.  Anyway, they all sent me press release-like messages asking for a mention.

SpaceWiz – Immerse yourself in the wonders of a visual/audio experience like no other! Take the role of viewer AND creator in a galaxy where you reign.

ExQuizit – The world’s biggest quiz. (Can we get a Guinness ruling on that?) The guy spent 18 months writing the questions.  There are 12,000 of them.  Go nuts.

Carpet Ball – See, the AppStore is proving that either all the good names are taken or that people are bad at naming their apps.

Diptic – Create exceptional photo collages that can be shared with friends and family.

No endorsement of these apps should be assumed.

Because I Spend So Much Time Talking About Cables Here…

Megan at Canyon PR has sent me half a dozen messages asking if I would like to review the ACCELL’s DisplayPort to DVI-D Dual Link adapter.

Look, hardware!

It works with 3D, which implies that there is some limitation somewhere.  Or is this like labeling candy that is nothing but sugar “fat free” because it isn’t even as nutritional as fat?  Anyway, I feel better about deleting her messages now.

And Harry Potter Will Solve Our Economic Woes

Harry Potter “the most successful literary and film franchise in history” according to one press release, needs to pile on to its already impressive $7 billion in merchandise sales by throwing two pull-out poster books into the mix.

Potter Poster Books

Now J.K. Rowling will be just that much richer than the queen. (Which I am pretty sure is why Elizabeth looked so grumpy at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.)  I’m not even putting any links in for these two.  Go find them yourselves.

Club Penguin Does… Something

I am not even sure how to parse this headline:

Make Your Mark: Ultimate Jam Follows Massive Success of Marvel Super Hero Takeover Event; Club Penguin’s First Single Tops iTunes Children’s Chart

It is one of those “I know what all those words mean by themselves…” moments.  And the text of the press release just goes on in the same vein.  It could easily be randomly generated for all I can tell.

In summing up what ever they were trying to tell me, it seemed that whatever it was involved 40 million play sessions across 200 countries.

The take away for me is that SWTOR could really use more penguins if it wants to succeed in F2P I guess.

Because It Is Better Than Eating Their Pizza

A PR firm representing Little Caesar’s sent me a link to a video on YouTube.  They want sites to run it on a… commercial basis.  The message literally said that watching the video will make you want to go “Whoooo!”  And it did indeed, though I am not sure I am pronouncing it in the way they expected.  To my mind, their pizza is to “real” pizza what Chef Boyardee is to Italian food in general.

Space Nazis! What Is Not To Love?

As inexplicable as the music press releases, I received a couple of messages alerting that Iron Sky will be playing at select theaters in the US over the summer.  The premise:

In the last moments of World War II, a secret Nazi space program evaded destruction by fleeing to the Dark Side of the Moon. During 70 years of utter secrecy, the Nazis construct a gigantic space fortress with a massive armada of flying saucers.

By this point however, the tour is almost over.  In reading some related information I have to admit I was not aware that Space Nazis represented such a full body of work.

The same company sent me a similar press release about something called Unicorn City, which doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, so I remain mostly clueless on the subject.

And that is about it, aside from the co-marketing pitches and one company who noted that the site lacked a forum and offered to set me up with one.  Just what I need.

Items from the Mail Bag – Rainy March Edition March 28, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Mail Bag, Path of Exile.
Tags: , , , , ,
6 comments

It is that time again!  Time to sort through my mail archives to see what has come my way in the last month that wasn’t worth a post by ought to get a mention, whether for real or comedic value.

Path of Exile Open Beta

In a very timely email, the folks making the Diablo-esque online game Path of Exile, a game about which I have written, have announced that this coming weekend, March 30 through April 1, beta access will be thrown open to everyone.  There is, of course, a FAQ posted with details.

Path of Exile – It is raining there too!

So if you are totally jonesing for a Diablo fix and cannot wait for May 15th to roll around, this might be an opportunity to get some click-action RPG time in.

Badass vs. Robot vs. Roger Ebert

Trexx Robotnyk wanted to let me know about the “truly unique, precious art” that is encompassed by Badass vs. Robot.

I think we call that art style “primitive”

I am not even sure where to go with this, so I’ll just quote the message in full.

A one-man operation. Destined to reshape the world order. Badass vs Robot has been temporarily unleashed to fund future development (episodes 1-3, about 1-5 playing hours, available in a week or so). In its brightest moments, small glimpses here and there, this robotic art project from Sweden sort of reminds me of mass effect 3/starwars/whatever but with heavier guitars and a cheaper price tag. Anyway, if you wanna join the fans around the globe and make this amazing space action robot saga turn into an uncontrollable behemoth on rockets, please buy a copy (you set the price). Note that this is a separate work-in-progress tech/devel funding/sneak peek release with awesome music, learn more at the homepage. And to those that hate this project solely cause it’s a difficult to grasp kinda space-art exhibition (e.g. nude politicians and a laser themed forced sterilization scene), are encouraged to share it with all of their friends. Please note that I’m not looking for investors, truly unique, precious art like this must be completely independent at all costs.

So there you have it.  Nude politicians, the laser themed forced sterilization scene, and Roger Ebert need not apply.

Blacklight: Retribution Open Beta

Back to the open beta scene, Blacklight: Retribution went into open beta… well, a month ago.  But I got the note AFTER I did last month’s mail bag.  See, timing is everything.  B:R is an online first person shooter game, a niche that seems to be growing into very non-niche like proportions.  Anyway, if you are interested, their web site is here.

EON Magazine Joins the Digital Age

Naturally, as soon as I subscribe to the physical magazine again, the folks at MMM finally deliver on their digital aspirations.

A digital edition at last!

For those interested, you can find more details on this at the EON Magazine site.  There is currently a special offer to get people interested.

Unbiased Reviews, For Specific Values of “Unbiased”

Leslie, a business development intern at FindTheBest, wanted to let me know that their site now has video game reviews as part of their engine that… I guess… allows you to find the best.  Per the email:

It allows users to filter by price, console, ESRB rating, and more. All of the information is completely unbiased and certified from sources such as Gamespot, Metacritic, and IGN.

Claiming a lack of bias on their part, I suppose, could be correct.  But when GameSpot, the site where no advertiser gets a bad review (or we’ll fire the reviewer!) is part of your sample, bias is clearly part of the equation.  Garbage in, garbage out as they say.  Anyway, I asked on that and actually got a response.

In the smart ratings algorithm, expert reviews only account for a small portion of a balanced rating system which takes into account things like number of copies sold, other metacritic ratings, as well as others. After doing considerable research we will take this feedback into account and discount GameSpots rating moving forward.

While I appreciate the attempt to quantify things, selling the most units is not always an indication of quality.  The literary works of L. Ron Hubbard and William Shatner spring to mind.  Still, it is nice to see somebody out there trying something new.

Oh, and the highest rated MMORPG on their list; the Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria expansion.  Take that for what it is worth.

Digital Kids Conference – You Need to Know!

Those in charge of the 6th Annual Digital Kids Conference, which despite its name is focused on child safety in the digital world and not the creation of electronic children (which presumably would come with an “off” button, every parents dream on occasion) seem very concerned that I be made aware of the agenda and specific events pertaining to the conference.  Hence the six email in two days things.

Consider me brought up to date, especially on the mobile app safety front.

The unsubscribe link, it does nothing!

Mistborn: Birthright – Not Wheel of Time

Brandon Sanderson, perhaps best known as the writer to pick up and (I desperately hope) finish Robert Jordan’s epically drawn out Wheel of Time saga, is having some of his own work made into a video game. (The Wheel of Time series was also supposed to be made into an MMO. What happened with that?)

Called Mistborn: Birthright, it will take place 100 years before the Mistborn series of books.  A quote from the author:

“As an avid gamer, I’m extremely excited by this opportunity,” said Sanderson. “The chance to write the story for a Mistborn game while working with a team of talented developers is, quite literally, living a dream.”

The game is scheduled to come out in the Fall of 2013.  Such information that there is available is on the game’s web site.

Items from the Mail Bag – We are Mailing it in This Month February 21, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Mail Bag, World of Tanks.
Tags: , , , , ,
3 comments

It is time again for that “it is late in the month and I am totally out of ideas” post, which means going straight to the mail bag to stimulate… or further deaden… my creative energy.

Symphonic Zelda

I got a note from Jeannie at Fresh PR that the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess tour was adding a few more dates.  It was already scheduled for San Francisco, so the added dates in LA and San Diego didn’t do much for me, but are not doubt of great benefit to my brethren at the southern end of the state.

Zelda in Concert

Since the concert tour site linked above is missing its “about” page still, here is the speil complete with trade and copyright marks.

The name “Symphony of the Goddesses” refers not only to the concert program but also to the new four-movement symphony recounting the classic storylines from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time™, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker™, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess™, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past™. The concert also will highlight orchestral renditions of music from other series games, including The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening™ and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask™. The full orchestra will be conducted by Eímear Noone with arrangements by music director Chad Seiter.

“This concert program is a truly special event for so many people who grew up playing The Legend of Zelda,” notes Jason Michael Paul, executive producer of Jason Michael Paul Productions. “The new tour dates are helping us bring this unique experience to fans across the country.”

Since first appearing in 1986, The Legend of Zelda game series has sold more than 65 million units worldwide. The most recent entry in the franchise is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which launched exclusively for the Wii console in November 2011.

Oh, and if you are a Club Nintendo member you get a 15% discount.

Young Justice is the Best Justice

Betsi Gijanto of Little Orbit wanted me to know that the “DC Comics brand” Young Justice, which is also a TV show, and which looks to me like “League of Justice Babies” or some such, is coming to video games.  Money to be made and all that!

It will be on all major consoles, which apparently means “screw you PlayStation Vita, the Nintendo DS is the only handheld that counts” and has its own web site if you are into that.

Looking at World of Tanks on your iPhone

Wargaming.net has releases an iOS application (Android soon) called World of Tanks Assistant which will let you view your stats, your tanks, and get game related news when you are stuck in a meeting that is important enough for you to attend but not important enough for you to actually pay attention.

Sims Social Booty Call

EA would like to give me 25 units of Sims Cash if I will just come back and play their Facebook game.

What does that coy look imply?

I haven’t played the game for nearly five months, since I turned it into Sims Anti-Social.  Then I took it a step further and removed rights from the app for my account and blocked all messages from it on my wall.

Smoke Your Tires

A note from Melinda Jackson at JAG Entertainment showed up to tell me about a new iOS app (hey, this all makes sense now that I have an iPad) called Smoke Your Tires. (A Surgeon General’s warning about the harmful effects of tire smoking is forthcoming.)

It is a racing game.  There is a flash version.  It is somehow all tied to a casino at the Kansas Speedway.  Whatever.

EVE News 24

Riverini at EVE News 24 sent me a note asking if I was interested in syndicating my posts on their site.  I had to decline, in part because… well… have you read my stuff.  It is hardly news.  Half the time I refer back to their site to support my ramblings.  But mostly I feared the comment threads on the site.  I am not sure I am ready for that.

But if you are, and you are an EVE blogger, EVE News 24 might be interested in syndicating your work.  They have a post up about it and everything.  Check it out.  They actually pay you.  The payment is in ISK, but that is probably more than you are getting right now.

Popeye Comes to Facebook

Large Animal Games has signed a deal with King Features Syndicate, distributor of such comic page giants as Popeye, The Lockhorns, Beetle Baily, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Betty Boop, The Katzenjammer Kids, Sally Forth, Rex Morgan M.D., and Zippy the Pinhead, so that they can feature characters from these well-known-to-your-granparents comics in their Facebook game Picturiffic.  Yay.

And with that, I am overwhelmed by apathy and can go no further.  The 17 press releases from Gamingo will just have to find another way into the spotlight.

Items from the Mail Bag – Drunken Home Theater Install Edition January 26, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, Mail Bag.
Tags: , ,
8 comments

This column, while I try to do it regularly once a month, is really an event driven item.  Generally it only occurs to me to write it when I either don’t feel like writing anything (when you have nothing to say, let somebody else say it for you I guess) or when somebody sends me something so ridiculous that I am compelled to put one in the “mail bag” category.

This month, it is the latter condition.  So this month we’ll start off with the grand prize and then taper off into obscure stuff so the whole post will seem like a let down by the time you get to the end.

Sorry in advance to the focus of the end story.

Where DUI Meets Home Theater

I am no stranger to the sponsored blog post offer, but this one this one seemed to deliver a new twist.

I’d like to inquire about doing a sponsored blog post – about 150-300 words that talks a little bit about DUI law and links back to our site [redacted]. We provide premier Custom Design, Engineering and Installation for home theater and I thought we might be a good fit for your readers/visitors on tagn.wordpress.com.

That’s correct, we are speaking of a post about DUI law that links back to a custom home theater which would be a perfect fit for an online gaming blog.

So is that the best breathalyzer you sell?

(Apologies to McIntosh Labs, makers of completely awesome high end audio equipment which does not in anyway endorse this blog post or, I am going to guess, the selling of home audio equipment via blog posts about DUI law.  But I am pretty sure that if they did make breathalyzers, they would be the best you could get.)

But this custom home theater site does have a budget for this sort of placement thing.

Our budget is around $15 for the post. Is this something you’d be open to?

Also we might be interested in a small banner ad if the price is right.
Our budget is $40/year

Woo hoo!  That will get me a case of Lucky Lager and some pretzels to go with!  I just love the puzzles in the cap.

I’m sorry, but at one point I was getting like $22 a month per link to put URLs in my side bar from a company trying to game Google Page Rank. (It was $30 a month when I was page rank 5, but I fell down to 4.)  Granted, they stopped returning my calls after a while, but while it lasted that fat PayPal payment spoiled me and now I won’t even get out of bed for less that $10.

Still, if this sounds like a deal to you, I can put in a good word.

Also if you have some other sites just send them over and we might be interested in doing a sponsored post on there as well!

Just drop me a note and we’ll talk!

More Press Releases!

Laura at Cision US, Inc. dropped me a note to tell me that my blog has caught their attention and they are adding it to their database.  I will be henceforth known and listed by them as:

Mr. Wilhelm Arcturus, Blogger of the Computers & Video Games Beat.

That is almost validation of my existence.  And I love to get press releases!

Thanks Laura!

I’ll have to send her a thank you note.

Treasure Awaits, My Lord!

Lord of Ultima sends me a note reminding me that I have a daily prize waiting for me if I fail to log on for a week or so.  That always prompts me to actually log on, collect my prize, check what has happened to my empire, which is generally nothing.

Still, this seems to be working for me.  I have moved from around 350th place in the rankings to about 200th place by doing nothing.  I play on world 31 which is a truncated world with extra small landmasses, so basically about three weeks into the game all available room to build on was taken.  Since then the game has been a matter of waiting for people to give up so you can take over their abandoned towns and castles.  This has been going on for somethings like six months!  Whee, a hell of a ride!  I’m sooo drunk!

Gamingo-go-go!

The Gamingo PR Team sends me lots of press releases about their browser based games.  They just aren’t all that interesting to me.  None of them would warrant a post by themselves.  But since they are so nice and persistent and no doubt live for the days when I deign to acknowledge their existence, and never use DUI laws as a troll for links, here is a list of the games they mentioned to me in January.

It Is So Komplex!

Ioana Buliga, a musical name if ever there was one, wanted to let me know about her company, Lucid Philosophy, and their new free to play browser based game, TwinKomplex.  Probably the coolest thing about them is that there offices are in the old Tempelhof Airport in Berlin.  I am tempted to sing “Ten Tons to Templehof” and other songs of the airlift, which I learned in my mis-spent youth.  Don’t ask.

Simply Unpronounceable

The site… or company… the email isn’t clear… named Gamelosophers wants me to be a partner in… something.  DUI legislation maybe?  All I know is that they are from Amsterdam and that they need a new name.  Really.  I once worked for a company called “Smarketing,” so I know.

Oh, and make your damn URL resolve correctly without the “www” prefix.  Amateurs, I swear!

Amplify This

Emma with Amplified Media has… well… something coherent and possibly true to say about the site that implies that she or somebody at her company might have actually visited.

We love your collection of thoughts and stories on the world of online gaming. Your insights on the gaming highs and lows of 2011 was a great end-of-year piece.

If nothing else, that actually makes this email stand out from many of the others than don’t even get posted with a DUI reference.  I might have to respond to that one and find out what opportunities Amplified Media has in mind.

Always End With Namaste

Kelly Heckman, Community Manager and Cat Herder for Namaste Entertainment wants me to know beta is still coming up and that they have forums now so they can answer all of your Storybricks questions.

And, judging from the side bar, they might be at GDC or something.  I’m not sure I will make it to GDC  this year.  The usual source of Expo passes for Potshot and myself, Darren, seems to have gone off MMOs completely.  Instead he is all philosophical these days and is, if I understand it right, about to launch an offensive on the Twilight franchise.

Hey, this last entry wasn’t such a let down after all, now was it?

Anyway, until next month, respect the mail bag!

Items from the Mailbag – End of the Year, I Almost Forgot Edition December 30, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Mail Bag.
5 comments

December is almost gone and I have items in my mailbag I forgot to mention!  So without further ado, I give you:

Warp Plus

Spectrum at Crimson Leaf Games sent out a notice announcing Warp Plus, a sequel to and extension and modernization of MegaWars III. Bullet points:

  • Space exploration with planet colonization and ship to ship combat.
  • Play in a galaxy that can expand to over five million stars.
  • Work independently or as a member of a team.
  • Learn the game without being preyed upon by other players.
  • Compete on a level playing field.  Everyone has an opportunity to win including free players.
  • Levels of play allow for casual or hardcore players.
  • Every campaign is unique as the players actions decide the game outcome.

But, like MegaWars III, it needs players to gel and become a community to be a worthwhile game to play.

Trion Hacking

There was the obligatory note from Trion Worlds telling me that they may have been hacked and asking me to come change the password to my account.  Their solution to the hacking apparently involves making sure that everybody’s password was longer, and contained a capital letter, a number, and a special character.

Somehow I doubt the strength of individual account passwords was what got them hacked, though if it was, they have bigger problems than I care to imagine.

Tactical Carnage

Mike from the Tactical Carnage Gaming Community sent me an invite to become a “combat liaison” at his site, or to at least move my blog there, since he could offer me free hosting and I would get more exposure.

He did not explain what a combat liaison was, the site only listed StarCraft II and Counter-Strike as related games (that has been updated since), and judging from the ticker on the front page, he get fewer views in a week as I get in a day (and I do not get that many views in the grand scheme of things) so the “more exposure” seemed a bit dubious.  Plus I am never keen to put my content into the hands of some random stranger or change my URL, probably the most valuable asset on the blog.

Still, he was persistent, following up the next day wanting a response already, so I outlined the above and asked if he had ever, you know, actually read my blog, since it did not seem to fit in at all with his site.  I signed my response “Wilhelm SynCaine de Cayeux” to see if that would cause any confusion, but there was no follow up.  Ah well.

Storybricks

Namaste sent me a note letting me know that Storybricks would be going into beta.

I am just not sure I want to play with their story development tool so much as I want to see what really smart people can do with it.  Still, it might give me the opportunity to recreate my most reknown MUD mob ever, the one named “My Ex-Girlfriend,” an NPC that would follow me around and complain loudly about all my faults and shortcomings.

Windows Phone

Not technically a mailbag item, but as I was finishing up my Looking Back at 2011 post, I got a call on my cell phone (eh?) from an evangelist at Microsoft wanting to get me interested in developing games for the Windows Phone platform.  There were all sorts of incentives and Windows/XBox Live tie-ins and he was very excited about the whole thing.  He seemed a little sad when I had to tell him I did not develop games nor did I have any tangible experience on mobile platforms, Microsoft or otherwise.

I can only imagine that he got my phone number from a resume I submitted to Microsoft for a position with the TellMe group, which actually does things I have years and years of experience with, like VXML, speech recognition, and speech app tools, design, and implementation, all of which was pretty clear on my resume.  But I guess he just saw “phone stuff” and gave it a shot.

In hindsight, I should have pointed him at Lord British.

Angry Boys with Lettuce and Tomato

Raimy of BLT & Associates (their URL is BLTomato.com, so yes, that sort of BLT) wanted to tell me that HBO was making a Facebook game related to their show Angry Boys and that I should watch their Facebook page right here.

I don’t actually get HBO, I had never actually heard of Angry Boys until that email, and I am really about done with Facebook games.  But, you know, if you are into any of that, there it is.

See what a sandwich based URL will get you?

My Phone is Developmentally Disabled

I keep getting messages asking me to download, try out, or review various iPhone and Android apps.  There were literally a dozen in my December list.  The problem is that I do not have an iOS or Android device.  I have an el-cheapo LG phone that is mostly a phone with some texting capabilities and a Bejeweled knock-off game that came with it.  So, no, I will not be trying out your phone app.

And that is it.  Now it is time to go play Laser Tag, which was my daughter’s choice for a birthday activity with her friends.  Go figure.

Items from the Mail Bag – I’m Full and Feeling Generous Edition November 24, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo II, entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
3 comments

It is Thanksgiving Day here in the US, a favorite holiday of mine because I happen to like turkey… and most of the traditional staples of the day aside from yams… and because there is no giving of gifts or sending of cards involved.  That can wait until tomorrow.  Plus we always host, so there is no need to leave the house, though we are expecting a mere dozen around the table this year, down from double that number in some past years.

So in a fit of tryptophan fueled generosity, here is some of what has dropped into the blog mail bag.

  • BioWare let me know I am in again for the SWTOR beta. Maybe playing a jedi this coming weekend can redeem what failed to charm me with blaster combat.  A pre-order hangs in the balance.

Already installed... just need to patch

  • Mike sent me five (5) special keys for their Facebook game D&D Heroes of Neverwinter to hand out to readers.  The first five people who follow me on Twitter and tweet to me the phrase “Gimme gimme gimme I can’t help myself” in reply to the twee that links to this post will get those keys.  Figuring out my Twitter account is the only mild barrier to entry.  (It is in the side bar.  And you must follow me so I can reply directly to you with the key. You can unfollow me once I give out the codes.  I probably would.)
  • The above mentioned Mike is also trying to connect with me in Linked In.  While I have created a net persona for Wilhelm Arcturus, I haven’t really gone that far.  I did, however, continue to build such a back story for a persona I create in high school.  It is easy in Silicon Valley.  I just had him working for companies like Taligent, General Magic, and Silicon Graphics.  People from those places have actually connected with him too.
  • Violeta from Best Games Media Group Ltd. wanted me to mention a new site called Gamingator.com, which looks like it sells games.  It is probably some sort of scam.  Sure, fine, just pass me some more pumpkin pie.
  • I have a note from The Sims Social offering me 2000 simoleons (one of the in-game currencies… and not the good one) if I will come back and play, proving that no matter how many ways you tell Facebook to disconnect you from an external app, once that app has your data you can never be rid of them.
  • On the same thread of never being free from a game once you play it, Night Owl Games wants to let me know that Dungeon Overlord, their Facebook game, has left beta and launched a new world.  They even have a video on YouTube.  I tried this game back in June.  I could have sworn it was an SOE game.  Was SOE just publishing it, or was this related to the great big downsizing at SOE this summer?
  • Tracey, who might actually read the blog, wanted to know if I had seen anything about Continent of the Ninth Seal, a Korean MMO action MMO that might make it to the US next year.  Timing-wise, this might have be related to comments I made about blaster combat in SWTOR.  Amway, the answer is… well… I have now!
  • Christine Kane wanted to tell me about her article comparing Facebook to Tag.  However, the analogy breaks down really fast (when did the “cool kids” ever play tag?) and, frankly, aren’t we a little past something that says, essentially, “Hey, Facebook is popular!”  Sorry Christine.
  • And then a number of people… bots… mailing lists… whatever… somehow I got a bunch of press release about iOS or Android games which I am not going to bother to link because I do not own a device that runs either operating system… though if I had to pick one, it would be the Atari’s Greatest Hits because it works with the iCade.

That’s it.  Time for some more pumpkin pie.