Thursday, February 27, 2014

Diablo III patch adds both loot and bugs galore


After a long period of waiting, Blizzard finally released the massive and highly sought after 2.0.1 update, bringing with it loads of arcane loot to send you scurrying back into the dungeon-infested world. Unfortunately, though we gain a lot of desirable treasures, we are once again plagued with problematic bugs as well.

The patch comes with a large amount of updates which make the game a lot more interesting, but the known list of bugs that come with it vary between the annoying, such as the profile page not showing the correct time played, to the broken, where the multiplayer screen will freeze on the home screen requiring a reboot.

Unfortunately there is no currently known timetable for when these bugs will be fixed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Twitch (finally) comes to Xbox One


With the announcement that Twitch was coming to the Xbox One shortly ahead of the console's launch, many were expecting it to be there on the day of release. Unfortunately the technology hadn't been fully developed and owners were left dismayed that the feature was never going to be implemented. Now, we have confirmation that it is indeed ready to be distributed next month.

Launching alongside the highly anticipated game, Titanfall, the Twitch live broadcasting service is set to take the gaming world to a whole new level.
"It's complete integration," said Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch. "It's exciting because we've never had the ability to broadcast from a console like this with such a deep level of integration. The concept of being able to join a broadcasters' party is really cool, and it's another step in the direction of interacting more closely with broadcasters."
The difference in time-frame between the PS4 and Xbox One having Twitch-capable streaming has a lot to do with the PS4's version being made by Sony, while Microsoft chose to allow the Twitch development team to create the program themselves. The result shows in the functionality. Xbox One owners will not be limited in the way that PS4 players are, where they can only spectate other PS4 users.

"For us, we thought that was too limiting for what our fans would want," said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's VP of marketing and strategy for Xbox. "Our fans really want the full next-gen service, so that's why we decided to take our time, do it right and have it come out in this fashion. This will open up the social aspect of Xbox One in a new way. The community of Twitch is huge, and this allows us to tie into that, and frankly do something that's never been done before on consoles. You'll be able to broadcast to any device and consume anyone's broadcast from any device. It's a console experience unique to the Xbox One."
 The Xbox One Twitch update will hit on March 11th.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Microsoft Vancouver hiring for new Gears of War game


With the announcement of Black Tusk Studios acquiring the rights to develop new Gears of War games, it was all but inevitable that some sort of confirmation of a new game would follow shortly. While not technically an announcement of a new game, not much screams louder about the existence of a new game than job openings. Microsoft Vancouver recently announced these job openings specifically for "Gears of War work."

Senior Level Designer - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869063) Job

Community Manager - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869049) Job

Lead Online Services Engineer - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869034) Job

Gameplay Designer - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869064) Job

Gameplay Engineer - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869065) Job

Senior Concept Artist - Black Tusk Studios - Devices & Studios (869050) Job

Lead Writer - Devices and Studios - Black Tusk Studios (851206) Job

Senior Online Services Engineer - Devices and Studios - Black Tusk Studios (803735) Job
Senior level designers, lead writers, concept artists... these all jump right off the page almost daring us to get excited about a new game announcement. One thing we can determine though, is if they are looking for these top level players in the field, the game isn't close to being started yet. Hope for even a 2015 launch is slim.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Microsoft purchases rights to "Gears of War" franchise


Announced today, Epic Games, former owner of the Gears of War franchise, has revealed that Microsoft studios has purchased the rights to the series, including former and future titles. Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver, BC will now be heading up the development of future Gears games, and Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on Gears of War, will join Microsoft and play a key role in the future of this series.

Why did Microsoft purchase the “Gears of War” franchise?
Phil Spencer: It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The “Gears of War” franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (US). This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe. 
Why did Epic Games agree to this acquisition?
Hanno Lemke: Epic has been a tremendous partner to work with, and it has been a privilege for Microsoft to be Epic’s publishing partner and work together to achieve the phenomenal success of the “Gears of War” games.  Epic remains great partners and good friends of Microsoft Studios.  In fact we will collaborate closely with Epic to ensure the inclusion of the Unreal Engine technology into the “Gears of War” franchise going forward remains consistent with the high quality fans have come to expect from the franchise.
When can we expect to hear more about the plans for the “Gears of War” franchise?
Hanno Lemke: We hope to be able to share more news about “Gears of War” later this year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Casualized use of "Rape" as slang: Why it needs to stop (Community Editiorial)

There's not a single night of gaming, or day on twitter, or hour of online browsing where I do not come across the casualized use of the term "rape." I'm not sure when or where this horrid trend started, but it has been going on for years. This habitual use is concentrated very highly in the online gaming world, especially in shooter genres, and this is especially troubling for the future of gaming community.

Saying "get raped" at the end of a match does not make you sound cool. Laughing about saying it does not make you look badass. However, it's become such an accepted phrase by so many people, that no one is willing to speak up and shut that person down. The online world is filled with so much anonymity that people feel no remorse for what they say or how they act. 99% of these people would not use this term around a woman standing right next to them, and nearly the same number would not use it next to a male friend either. The fact that they are not held accountable for their actions makes them feel untouchable, and the worst of a person's character bubbles to the surface. Which begs the question, how depraved has our community become that they can use this term as casually as talking about the weather?

Rape is not a laughing matter. It's not a term that should be tossed around lightly. Rape is an act that transcends what people know about being a victim. To fully understand rape would require you to be put in that same position which the vast majority of the world would never wish you to be in. It's an act that brutalizes the victim, causing years of mental anguish and possibly physical distress as well. Many victims come away with permanent scarring, bruising, damage to tendons or bone, and some victims never come away from the emotional trauma. Victims commit suicide everyday after suffering through the pain and trauma for years. This is not limited to women. Both sexes experience these violations, with a large amount of cases never getting reported due to feelings of shame and guilt. Some never walk away from the experience at all. Murders are a common aftereffect as the rapists don't wish to be caught. In some countries, the victims themselves are the ones who are punished through torture and public executions for bringing "shame" to the families. Lives are forcefully violated and destroyed, before they are ended in one of the worst ways to ever leave this world.

To hear the term said with conviction degrades everything a community should stand for. Wishing harm and horror to be forced upon someone is despicable. The casualized use of this term extends beyond gaming to even a regular conversation, with the entire meaning being perverted to suit the user's need at the time. Please, save our community and save our society from going down this path. Stop using this word.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Titanfall" gets customized Xbox One controller


What's better than controlling gigantic mechs while simultaneously slaughtering your enemies using it's massive arsenal? Doing it in style. Titanfall is already being hailed as one of the greatest titles to be released in 2014, now Respawn, the game's creator, has upped the ante. Joel Emslie, Lead Artist at Respawn Entertainment, stated the goal was “to create a controller that feels as if it is a piece of military spec hardware transported from the universe of Titanfall and into players hands.”

Modeled after one of the mech's in-game weapons, this beauty just shouts "Badassery", and with the same cost of a standard Xbox One controller, it's a very easy choice to make for your second (or third) controller.

The controller will launch alongside Titanfall, March 11th, 2014.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sega attempts to redeem "Aliens" franchise with new Survival-horror game


With the internet still debating about whether Aliens: Colonial Marines was a hit or flop, it's very surprising that Sega, publisher of Aliens: CM, would attempt another Aliens game so soon. Taken on by a new developer, Creative Assembly, this newest addition to the franchise seems geared towards the original James Cameron view of the Aliens storyline, focusing more on the horror rather than the action.
"Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for survival, on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother's disappearance. As Amanda, you will navigate through an increasingly volatile world as you find yourself confronted on all sides by a panicked, desperate population and an unpredictable, ruthless Alien."
Where a lot of previous Alien games have gone wrong is in the adrenaline-pumped action sequences. The atmosphere of the films are not a result of bulky space marines suiting up and hunting Xenos. It's about surviving against all odds and praying to whatever god you believe in that you don't wake up with a larva trying to burst out of your chest.

Hopefully Sega can redeem their last flop in regards to this franchise. Many gamers would be thrilled to have a decent Aliens game for once.

Friday, December 13, 2013

War on console sales has begun. Sony claims more, Microsoft claims fastest


With both consoles releasing in November, both have sold an impressive amount. Sony reportedly leads with a higher total sold throughout the month, however Microsoft makes a bold statement saying that their console reached sales numbers much faster than the PS4. The numbers really can't stand out for much in just the first month as they both launched in different weeks.

With both manufacturers posting over 2 million units sold, it's hard to tell who is really in the lead, but with that full extra week, it's more than likely that Sony is ahead of Microsoft on total units. In the end, numbers don't really matter unless you are a shareholder or really want to be "that guy/girl" who plans on slamming your enemies in the console wars, but it is interesting to note that Microsoft was willing to post an exact sales number whereas Sony was not.

Battlefield 4 patch due out today *UPDATED*

For those BF4 players who have been experiencing multiplayer instability, or who have come across the one-hit kill bug and found it rather bothersome, rejoice, for the end is near.

A developer over on the Battlefield 4 forums had this to say in regards to the situation:
We will be rolling out the Xbox One game update today, starting 10AM UTC / 2AM PDT. Players may experience some downtime as we upgrade our services. Expect patch notes to become available soon.
 Hopefully this update fixes the majority of the problems gamers have been experiencing since launch.

 Update: List of fixes -
-Fixed three common crashes that could occur during map transitions
-Fixed a common crash that could occur when using the in-game Battlelog in the "end of round" screen
-Fixed two crashes related to destroying vehicles
-Fixed a crash that could occur when the player lost connection to a server
-Fixed a crash that could occur when using the scoreboard
-Fixed a crash that could occur when players were using the voice chat
-Optimized performance when shooting destroyed Levolution objects on some levels
-Removed the blur effect on soldiers that appeared when Commanders were using EMP attacks
-Fixed the "one-hit kill" bug where damage from a single bullet sometimes was applied multiple times. This could lead to firefights where normal rifles sometimes dealt one-shot kills, which is not as designed
-Fixed a memory leak that could lead to crashes at certain points
-Further reduced the probability of getting a corrupt save file in the single player campaign
-Fixed the audio drop outs that could occur when playing on large maps. Typical map affected was Golmud Railway in Conquest with 64 players. Ambient sound would sometimes cut out, like foley sounds from player running, vehicle engine sounds, vehicle movement sounds, and map ambient sounds
-Fixed an issue with going online after resuming your Xbox One from suspended mode
-Fixed some issues with the handling of Xbox One parties
-Made the icons used to signal voice chat status more reliable

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Xbox One off to less than fantastic start


Launches of any new product can often be problematic. Clothing may be made of weak material, vehicle engines may contain flaws, electrical equipment may have faulty wiring. It's all relatively quite common for these instances to pop-up. Recalls do happen to make the products safer and more reliable. However, these instances are few and far between compared to over a million customers all experiencing the same issues the way that Microsoft consumers are with the Xbox One.

Anyone who has used the Xbox Live user interface knows that it's a fairly sleek operation. Party chat, while problematic if there is instability in the online network, is pretty strong and allows you to chat across different games. Notifications can be turned on or off so that you can see invites or when friends get online. Microsoft failed to move even these simple features over to their new system. Riddled with bugs, the Xbox One user experience is slowly drifting towards massive interest and, in some cases, downright disgust.

Fans desperate for a fix made a website listing out a lot of the problems they feel could be made right and also some improvements that would make the experience a lot better. A few examples would be:
  • When in Skype, voice chat is also transmitted into the game. So people in-game can hear you while in Skype.
  • Option for voice chat to go through the headset or tv, or both
  • Voice chat should be enabled automatically when joining voice chat as there is a physical mute on the headset input and in the party chat interface. Its an just extra unnecessary option to enable voice chat after joining a party chat
  • Ability to see the remaining amount of hard drive space 
  • Ability to String Commands for example "Xbox, Play Battlefield and Snap Netflix"
  • Controller Battery Indicator on the home screen
The majority of these are things most people would figure are already included, but they are not. Microsoft seems to have taken several steps backward and removed key features from what even the original Xbox had more than 12 years ago. Microsoft's Larry "MajorNelson" Hyrb has made it known that they are aware of the issues people are having and promises that it "will get better." Let's hope that Microsoft can fulfill that promise promptly.