Archive for May, 2008

AMD amping up gaming arm

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

AMD is rolling out a new branding scheme to highlight hardware that is optimized for gaming software. The new AMD Game! Brand is meant to bring ‘console-like’ simplicity to desktop/laptop users.

The New logo with be plastered on all PCs that include an Athlon X2 5600+ processor, 2GB of memory, a Radeon HD 3650, and an AMD 770 or Nvidia nForce 500 series chipset or higher.

The super swanky “AMD Game Ultra” logo is reserved for top shelf systems only. These Johnny Walker Blue Label systems need to have a minimum of a Phenom X4 9650, 2GB of memory, a Radeon HD 3870, and an AMD 770 chipset.

According to AMD’s site, “We’ve tested the games, hardware, and components to make sure you get an amazing playing experience, right out of the box. And best of all, you don’t have to know every detail about your PC to get started.”

In other words, AMD will be reviewing, selecting, and matching peripherals such as mice, keyboards and controllers for max compatibility (um, where do I apply for this gig?). Again, stressing the console like, plug and play right outta the box simplicity.

Whether you prefer to build your frag machine from the ground up, or simply leave the choices up to AMD, my guess is that we’ve going to be seeing a bit more of AMD in the gamers galley.

 

Wii dropin’ bombs on PS3 and Xbox in April

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Market research firm NPD released April data on Thursday putting Nintendo’sWii on top.

Nintendo also released their own press release using the NPD numbers:

According to NPD, the Wii outsold Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3. The Wii moved 714,000 units in April bringing it’s total US sales since launch to 9.5 Million units.

NPD’s numbers show that Microsoft milked the cash cow for 188,000 units and Sony, 187,100 PS3′s.

Perhaps having a bit of advanced knowledge of the upcoming numbers, Microsoft released a statement of their own on Wednesday that they’d reached the 10 Million units sold mark, making the Xbox 360 the first  next-gen console to reach this landmark. Microsoft gave itself a pat on the back, arguing that this is the landmark that that usually indicates the eventual winner of each console generation.

Speaking of April, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto IV launched on the 29th on Xbox 360 and PS3. Granted, GTA IV had only been out for 2 days last month, and box Microsoft and Sony saw an increase in these sales, and yet Wii still came out on top.

NPD’s data on GTA IV places the game in two of the three top slots of software sales, with the Xbox version cashing in with 1.85M copies, and the PS3 version selling 1M units.

Again, Nintendo backs that ass up with Mario Kart Wii coming in as the second best selling game for the month of April, pushing 1.12M bananas out the door. Overall, 6 out of the top 10 best selling games during April were Wii games.

Let’s not forget about the other white meat: handheld gamers. The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP outsold both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The DS cranked out 414,800 receipts, with the PSP paling in comparison at only 192,700.

Overall, NPD’s research indicates what we’ve already mentioned, even though the economy sucks, the gaming industry is still partying like it’s 1999, with total sales in April racking up $1.23 billion. Yep, that’s Billion. That’s a 47% increase over the $839 million only one year earlier. Likewise, hardware sales were up 26% from $339 million in April 2007 to $426 million in April 2008.

 

Metal Gear Solid 4 Limited edition for PS3… not just for Japan!

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Sony’s official playstation blog dropped some Solidly good Gear on North American customers Wednesday night in San Francisco at the Konami Gamers night and made the info official worldwide yesterday: Japan ain’ the only ones getting a first crack at the limited edition June 12th release of the gunmetal grey Metal Gear Solid 4 PS3.

For $599, you can nab yourself a bundle of blitz masked at a 40gb PS3 including a color matched dualshock controller and of course Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Limited Edition game. In addition, you’ll be the only one one the block with an exlusive Blu-ray disc with over 2 hours of content including: “Hideo Kojima’s Gene” – a “making of” documentary and a special look at Hideo’s team.

The MGS4 LE is available exclusively through Konami, and you can head on over right now and give a clicky click on the wish list, and hope to me one of the lucky few to nab this badboy. Konami will start taking pre-orders on Monday May 19th.

 

Funcom puts the F back in effed up

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Hyboria may look hotter than hell from the screenshots and trailers, but not so with client downloaders. It seems as though the early access offer that allow(ed) players to start playing the new offering on May 17 has sold out, leaving a LOT of fanboys and girls screaming bloody murder. Funcom sites that their servers couldn’t any more peeps downloading the 14GB client. Let me say that again, 14 effing GB?!?! Not being prepared for a release is just bad business. An easy fix would have been to make a patch available whereby users could simply patch the beta version they’d been testing and bring it up to the release version. Instead, users are forced to uninstall the beta and then re-download the 14GB access client again. Ouch.

To add insult to injury, plenty of peeps experienced the “ERROR: Filesize incorrect” message when installing the game. WTF? Granted this can be fixed, but not exactly what I’d call a nice Welcome doormat. To fix the error, you’ll need to go into the AoC directory, find and run the SimpleConfig.exe program, click on “Verify/Repair” button, check the repair checkbox, and start the verification. This repair checker will then download the correct version of the corrupted files. As if I haven’t downloaded enough already?

Ok, so we’ve now spent 22,000 hours downloading a corrupt 14GB client, patched the what should have been correct files in the first place, and are ready to fire up some juicy blood spilling action. Hold the phone boss, we’ve got a few MORE of funcoms eff ups to fix. You’re probably going to launch the game and get nothing more than a black screen now. Be sure to check if you have anything between your teeth with this now very expensive mirror you’re sitting in front of.

To fix the black screen of WTF, head back to ye old SimpleConfig.exe, and give ‘er a run. Now look for the graphics tab and select DirectX 9 (your default may or may not be DirectX10). Restart AoC. If this still doesn’t work, rinse and repeat the above steps, but now set the resolution to something lower than your standard screen rez. Fear not, you’ll be able to change these settings in game mode once you’ve managed to raise Conan from the black screen of WTF.

I wish that I could say after funcom’s last release, Anarchy Online, that they’ve learned a thing or two. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem so. With such a sweet looking game, let’s hope that funcom can fix the flubs and bring on the fury!

 

New info about the upcoming Lich King expansion!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Some exciting new news surfaced over the weekend about the upcoming Lich King expansion set for Warcraft.

Most notably, it seems as though Blizzard is learning and evolving. In the original game, players were required to organize 40 person raids to receive high-level end game content. Needless to say, this became a rather challenging proposition and areas like Naxxramas went largely untouched.

With the Burning Crusade, large raid groups were cut down to a 25 person max, but again, this is still difficult to manage at times. Blizzard is taking cues from the games most popular raid, Karazhan. Kara seems to hit the sweet spot with most players by providing excellent loot, a decent yet not impossible level of organization (10 players), and can be cleared in around 2 hours (depending on players skill level of course).

Blizz is taking this knowledge and applying it to the new Lich King.

  • All dungeons will have a 10 and 25 person version available
  • Versions of the raids are NOT dependent upon each other
  • 25 person raids will have improved (on tier higher) loot
  • NO KEYS! No more running around to get key fragments and attunements
  • 10 person and 25 person dungeons are on separate timers. Meaning: if you’ve already run the dungeon with a group of 10, and find 15 more people to run it with your group, you’re golden
  • 5 person raids are designed to take no longer than 1 hour to complete
  • A new token system will be introduced, similar to the Badge of Justice system

We also got hit with a few tidbits about the new hero character class: Death Knights

  • Every race is able to start a Death Knight
  • Death Knights start at level 55 and there’s no longer a prerequisite to get one. In other words, if you’ve got a level 55 character, you can make 1 Death Knight per account per realm.
  • Mounted Combat! You’ll now have the ability to fight while mounted. Don’t forget about the ability to take a buddy with you (some Wrath mounts have the ability to bring a passenger along), AND use them in the old world.

All in all, it looks like a juicy in expansion, with some well thought out (and heard) requests from players around the world.

 

LotR and the Jackson 5?

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Ok, actually the Jackson 5 have nothing to do with Turbine’s Lord of the Rings, but a certain Jackson 5 song does come to mind with regard to Turbine’s latest offer: “I want you back”.

Celebrating their one year anniversary, Turbine games is inviting ex-subscribers of LotR back for a free 4 day pass, giving users a chance to explore new updates to game content including the new region of Forochel, over 100 new quests, a new monster class: the Orc Defiler, and a variety of other major updates.

Turbine is also offering special anniversary pricing. Pay $199 and become a lifetime game member and never have to fork over your monthly subscription fees again, or choose a multi-month plan (90 days or longer), and lock in a $9.99/month fee for the foreseeable future.

Also dropping like it’s hot during these 4 days, monsters throughout middle earth are losing rare items like they’re going outta style. You can exchange these rare items for a special gift box with all kinds of goodies.

So if you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ with LotR, ran outta cash to feed your addiction, or simply want to get back in the saddle, take advantage of 4 free days of play, and see what you’ve been missing.

For more info on the anniversary celebration, pay ‘em a visit at: http://www.lotro.com/welcomeback

 

Blizzard takes the battle of the bot offline and brings it to creator’s front door

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

It seems as though Michael Donnelly’s WoW bot (Glider) has ruffled some serious feathers in the City of Love. Basically, it shakes out like this; Donnelly’s bot ‘grinds, loots, heals, and even farms soul shards without you’ for a small license fee of $25. In other words, this bot will make you boatloads of money, mats, rep, etc. and pretty much anything else you want, all while you’re off at school, the gym, or sleeping.

It’s a well known fact that MMO producing companies have a high disdain for anyone caught cheating the game. Be this gold farming, buying accounts, or using bots to perform automated functions. On the other hand, there will always be those out there that are willing to push the edges of the envelope, and see just how far they can go with Blizzard or any other manufacturer.

Where the legalese comes in is that Blizzard is claiming that Blizzard’s designs expectations are frustrated, and resources are allocated unevenly, when bots are introduced into the WoW universe, because bots spend far more time in-game than an ordinary player would and consume resources the entire time. Hmm: clearly they’re unaware of how much time I spend playing the game. ;)
Blizzard is also claiming that Glider infringes on copyrights and is a violation of the EULA “because it copies the game into RAM in order to avoid detection by anti-cheat software”.

Donnelly contends that there is no copyright violation present as “no ‘copy’ of the Warcraft game client software is ever made.”

As it stands right now, Donnelly and Blizzard (along with parent company Vivendi Games) are lawyering up, and it looks to be an interesting showdown in the Ring of Blood. Now this is some serious PvP action! And please dear god: let the judge use the phrase PWND, just once: please? :)

 

Apple offers Eve Online Demo

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Sure, you could/can download it directly from eve-online.com, and I’m sure most gamers that are interested in having a crack at a free 14 day demo probably do. But: CCP games has done something very smart by making a demo version of the game available directly from Apple.com.

For Mac gamers the choices have always been a bit thinner than PC users (although that number is steadily growing, given to apple’s rising sales numbers) , and putting a short description about the 200K+ gaming community along with the link in Apple’s download section is a genius idea.

Along with Eve Online, there are quite a few other demos and freebies on the Mac site for Apple users. If you’ve not already checked them out, head on over and see what goodies Mac is giving out.

 

Second Life does Benelux

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Think Second Life is on its way out? Perhaps to gamers and enthusiasts of MMORPG’s (which, let’s be honest, it’s not even an RPG, but rather a reflection of an alternate life) it’s done and buried, but not to the greater forces of the economy.

Recruitment events hosted on the virtual platform have become a success for a number of companies. Encouraged by the tremendous success of their first career fair ‘Working Worlds’, the Luxembourg based company ‘GAX Technologies SA’ is now opening the gates to the Benelux countries on May 29th. Benelux= Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg (don’t worry; I had to look it up as well).

Some of the biggest employers in these three countries will have opening hours, and be involved in Second Life conversations and interviews with potential and interested candidates.

Last November, for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg alone, Working Worlds hosted approximately 2000 interested applicants from around the globe, had 1500 candidates file their resumes, conducted 300 interviews, and filled 50 positions.

Working Worlds has filled the gap between employers who are not bound by international borders, and talent that is available around the world to fill this need, and placed it on a platform accessible by all. Smart. Very Smart.

So, if you’re out there looking for a job, or even, looking for a better job, perhaps have a swing by Working Worlds on May 29th.

For more information and registering to attend, visit: http://www.working-worlds.com.

 

My gaming Rig is better than yours!

Monday, May 5th, 2008

One of the beauties and attractions to MMO gaming is the incredibly detailed artwork and sound that goes into their creation. Many of us even support the graphics card industry by continually upgrading cards and even overclocking them (you never heard that nvidia) ;)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats, as record label owner Jeremy Kipnis has created what we believe to quite possibly be “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

OMG! This is what $6 million will buy you. Kipnis’ theatre is installed in his home in a vaulted ceiling room that measures 8 feet high at the rear of the room and 16 feet high at the screen end of the room, with dimensions of 26.5 feet wide and 33 feet long. In other words: large, but not a tremendously big room.

Within this room, he’s packed one of the largest screens installed in a home in the world, measuring 18 feet wide! Just give that a think for a sec. Even if you’re gaming on a 30″ Cinema HD cinema display on your desktop, this guy plays on something 7x as large!

The main video comes from a Sony SRX-S110 Professional Video Projector and is supplied by a variety of inputs:

Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Player
Sony PlayStation 3 Gaming Console
Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD Player
JVC HMDH-5U D-VHS Recorder
SATA Drive (72 HDTV Hours Total)
Mark Levinson N° 51 DVD/CD Media Player
Pioneer HLD-X0 Hi-Vision HDTV MUSE Laserdisc Player

If the video isn’t enough to blow you away, let’s talk about the sound. Kipnis is running 13 Theta Digital Generation VIII 32-bit 8x Oversampling Dual Processors (link this) for audio processing, and then amplifying it via:

2 Mark Levinson N° 33h Amplifiers
30 McIntosh MC-2102 Amplifiers
3 Crown Macro Reference Gold Amplifiers

Being projected through:

16 Snell 1800 THX Music & Cinema Reference Subwoofers
8 Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference Towers
10 MuRata ES103A Super Tweeters
3 Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference LCR-2800 Center-Channel Speakers

Umm… yeah. Kinda makes my rig look mighty sad at the moment.