All posts by Kaushik

A mobile technology lover and a Strategy and RPG-game fanatic. I also enjoy astronomy and programming. I am a biotechnology engineer learning through this fascinating subject while poring over computer science. Hit me up on Twitter for more

Big Shot Gaming Companies Drop Support for SOPA

Well it seems like the much maligned Stop Online Privacy Act has been steadily losing support as time goes by. The Internet, for all its loose frivolities and nonexistent persistent loyalties has banded together to effectively stop a Big Brother-like monitoring legal tool from ever being born. As the senate keeps debating the bill, many of the copyright-loving companies such as EA, Sony and Nintendo have been pressurized by both their fans online as well as their employees to drop support for this bill.

USSenate

SOPA, along with its sister law PROTECT-IP has been at the receiving end of much criticism from the citizens of the United States. The bills, if enacted, will allow any content-owning person to order a takedown of a site that either hosts their content or even links to their content. Considering that much of the internet is based upon the linking to-and-fro of copyrighted content, this effectively curbs the freedom of the internet as we know it. Moreover, if the content owner so wishes, he or she may order the IP address of the infringing site to be blacklisted, rendering the site inaccessible. The kind of horror this can inflict upon aggregation sites such as Reddit is unfathomable.

We just have to hope that big wigs like Nintendo, Sony and EA keep dropping their support and that this bill is never passed.

Top 5 PC Indie Games of 2011

As the year draws to its close, we must do our duty as a blog to summarize the things that happened through the year. In addition, considering that I snoop around the PC gaming part of things all around, this post will mostly be about that. As the title says, these are the top 5 PC Indie games of 2011. The PC part is quite important in that all the games have versions made for a personal computer running Windows 7 or Vista (but seriously, why would you be using Vista?). Moreover, each of these games has affected me in one of many ways; from being extremely addicted to it, to playing it for casual fun, to eliciting intense emotional outbursts from the normally stoic person that I am. So, without further ado, here is the list.

5. The Binding of Isaac

Isaac

Equal parts shooter and roguelike RPG, Edmund McMillen (of Team Meat fame) has come up with a truly wonderful and grotesque creation known as The Binding of Isaac. You play the titular Isaac who is going to be sacrificed by his mother to appease her god. Thus, to escape her insanity, you dive into the cellar and find that your tiny home’s cellar is in fact an infinitely long dungeon with creatures both ugly and macabre roaming its cavernous depths. Each dungeon is generated randomly and indeed each time you save, quit and reload, the dungeons are randomized again making no two playthroughs exactly the same. The difficulty, therefore, is not linearly scaled with Isaac finding bosses instead of treasure in one room and being forced to fight said boss. It constantly keeps you on your toes right before opening a door to a new region, adding the thrill of the roguelike with treasure and level-ups into the mix. The game, with its convoluted connotations of religion, genre-breaking game mechanics, and simple cartoony gore is a blast to play. Buy The Binding of Isaac here.

4. Frozen Synapse

Frozen

Although my real play of the game has slackened off in the months after its release, Frozen Synapse is nevertheless one brilliant tactical game that must not be forgotten when we are dealing with great indie games of this year. With the minute tactical and strategic thinking of a traditional game such as Chess or Go coupled with frantic shooting and explosive rocket blasts, this simultaneous turn-based strategygame deals with you guiding your soldiers through many randomly generated levels, picking off the enemy soldiers and completing objectives on the way. The game is well made for those who like to play in short bursts, with mechanics made to match the play-by-email style of play native to online Chess or Risk, and matches with 8 or more complete turns take days to finish between to equally matched opponents. A wonderful multiplayer matching system as well as a video-recording of the game provides a fertile ground for passionate strategic players to push their foxy plans into fruition. The game’s futuristic neon tones and sublime electronic music works well to enrich the atmosphere. Buy Frozen Synapse from Mode7 games here.

3. Terraria

terraria

I must confess that my own play time of Terraria does not match up with those of the previous games. However the time I have spent looking at YouTube videos of the endlessly beautiful creations of this labor of love have been much greater than a lot of time I have spent on complete games. Terraria is wrongly being accused of being a Minecraft rip-off. Sure, it is a sandbox game. Sure, it also involves blocks and crafting and monsters at night. Yet, there is a greater difference between the 3D voxel-based Minecraft and the 2D pixel-based Terraria. While Minecraft focuses on the crafting part –   to build new things in a virgin world Terraria has definite Role Playing elements, especially when one plays with friends. The fact that one can play for hours and hours based on just the overworld (to say nothing of the dark and dank underworld) is testament to the great game that Terraria truly is. With a tiny 16MB download, one cannot go wrong with Terraria. Buy one for yourself and one for your friends and you are all set to roam around a colorful pixelated world full of things to discover.

2. Bastion

bastion

I cannot stop talking about this wonderful, colorful, heart-wrenching little game from Supergiant Games. Bastion has a soul that very few games of this era have one that briefly joins with you every time you do anything in this game. While it is at its heart a hack n’ slash adventure game, what makes Bastion brilliant is its narrator and the extremely poignant music. I never skipped a moment of conversation in the game, mostly because of the old narrator’s voice that was simultaneously warm and pained with sorrow. As the Kid trying to save a broken Caelondia, you will go to different places of your land, fight monsters and rebuild Bastion, the one place everyone agreed to go to in the time of the Calamity. You get to upgrade your weapons and buy new bonuses, but the crux of the game lies in whether you can truly build your world anew. Featuring a lovely soundtrack one that has been on repeat in my music player for a long while now Bastion is one of the must-play titles released this year. Read our review here to know more.

1. To The Moon

tothemoon

It is not often that a piece of art is made from cheaply available tools with an amateurish look and feel to it go on to redefine the medium and successfully bring it into the forefront as a vibrant and true medium of art. This is pretty much the definition of what To The Moon actually did. It is sad to know that it has less of a fan base when compared to the previous indie games in this list. At its heart, To The Moon is a point-n-click game made using RPGMaker that is set somewhere in the future when science has sufficiently advanced to change a person’s memory at his or her dying stages. The game follows the quest of two such science agents who go into an old, dying man’s mind because he wants to go to the moon as an astronaut in his memories. Yet he does not know exactly why he wishes to do so. The two agents go back into his younger years to find the source of this compulsion and make startling discoveries. I can freely say that the last part of the game literally made me cry and that has not happened before with any game (Planescape: Torment came close). It is the best game that I have played all year, and you must buy it from the brilliant developer.

Honorable Mentions

Minecraft: Well it released this year but it is still more or less the same game as the alpha as far as game mechanics and enjoyment are considered.
Gemini Rue: A dark, neo-noir point n click game that took storytelling to a whole new level.
Limbo: Though released for the PC in 2011, the game was developed last year for the XBLA.

Indie Darling VVVVVV Comes to the 3DS

This is a lovely early New Years’ Gift for all US fans of the 3DS as well as Indie gaming! Terry Cavanaugh’s acclaimed super-hard and incredibly addictive 2D platformer VVVVVV has come to the US 3DS eShop for $7.99 and is apparently quite a blast to play with the 3DS’ much loved 3D-without-glasses screen as well as the second screen that makes the game quite a lot of fun to play.

VVVVVV

With its simple controls and simpler graphics, yet extremely convoluted puzzles using the gravity-inversion trick of the game, VVVVVV looked like the best kind of game to be ported to handheld consoles such as the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 3DS. So when Cavanaugh decided to go through for developing it for the 3DS, using the secondary screen as a map for the game (one of the more useful ways of using the second screen with this game, although I cannot say I did not see this coming).

The 3DS version, being $3 dearer than the PC version, includes the ability to download fan-made levels on the PC and playing it on this game. In effect, for $7.99, you are getting an unlimited array of levels to keep playing with on your 3DS. Considering how easy this game is to pick up and play, this perfectly supplements the handheld nature of the platform.

The Antisec Team Strikes At Online Security Supplies Store

Continuing their role of being a silly bunch of hackers with vague goals and assaulting easy-to-hack sites and then twisting their victims to somehow fit into their agenda, the #Antisec team of [probably] Anonymous has struck again! Now as you can see, I have a poor opinion about these attacks. This is mostly due to their terrible handling of the previous attack on Stratfor and misappropriating stealing money from credit cards. Now I do not know what wrong Stratfor, or their latest target SpecialForces.com did but merely standing by and doing business is something these Anons cannot stand. As I have said before, we live in sad times.

merikurisimasu

The pretext that Antisec put up to attack SpecialForces.com, a security gear supply store (they stock items like knives, combat apparel and the like), is merely existing:-

[W]e are announcing our next target: the online piggie supply store SpecialForces.com. Their customer base is comprised primarily of military and law enforcement affiliated individuals, who have for too long enjoyed purchasing tactical combat equipment from their slick and professionallooking website.

According to the group which is yet to be properly identified (they just mentioned Merry LulzXmasand #Antisec in their release and since they mentioned Stratfor, I am assuming they are Anonymous), this attack is indirectly related to the pepper spraying cop of UC Davis fame. How very… precise, Anons.

We will have more on this as it develops.

Really Big Sky: A Review

One of my first forays into gaming was with a top-down shooter game called Flying Tigers, which my dad constantly tells me is the best video game he has ever played. It was mostly because of the fact that the game’s goal was very simple: shoot everything, and on top of it the only controls you needed were those that were required to move (you automatically kept on shooting). It’s an excellent game and on many counts, is still fun to play. How is it relevant to this review? If you liked Flying Tigers or any of its kind of top-down shooters, you are going to love Really Big Sky.

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Boss Baddie’s second game in the Big Sky series (they do not have a storyline as such, but it is a sequel of sorts), Really Big Sky is a blast to play from get go. The visuals are crisp and colorful, bordering on the edgy and epileptic. Unlike other randomly generated level games, Really Big Sky does not look somewhat unfinished, working practically like buttery smooth toast with the enemies, your ship and the satisfying explosions. Much of the levels’ time consists of you shooting colorful lasers and blasters at your enemies and collecting odd power-ups, evading asteroid fields, fighting bosses and pummeling planets with your drill before dying in an altogether dramatized explosion.

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Dying is a core part of this game, because there are no health bars to speak of. If you touch an enemy laser, you’re dead. While this makes the first attempt, where the player is assaulted by both enemies on screen and the brilliant fountains of color from the screen itself, terribly hard, it also gives the player the opportunity to convert the points accumulated in the level into cash to buy power-ups such as improved blasters and adding on a shield. Accumulating more points, skills and kills unlocks other game modes such as boss-only, retro, arcade and others.

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Drilling is also a very important point of the game. Your ship features a drill that you can activate by pressing a key. This stops the automatic shooting, but allows you to drill through a planet’s core, getting point multipliers, speed increments and other such bonuses. On top of that, while you are using the drill, your blaster gets more powerful for a short while of use because of the pressure build-up. Seriously, that is the explanation given.

While it is a generally fun game to play, Really Big Sky suffers from some minor issues. First and foremost being that the Esc key exits the game without confirmation, and there is no pause button. This led to many hair-tearing moments when I, at a humungous score, had to leave the game for a moment and inadvertently pressed the Esc. key, thinking it would pause the game. It ended the game, instead.
Much of the game and the bonus power-ups are not explained at the start, leaving you to understand, through trial and error. While this is not necessarily a bad thing in my book, it may be so for others.

2011-12-26_00009

Whereas at the start of the level it looks rather harmless and even easy, the game gets progressively tougher fitting closer to an exponential graph rather than a linear one. The game is very addictive, nevertheless, and the adrenaline pumping soundtrack in the background makes it quite a lot of fun to survive waves upon waves of ships, asteroids, planets, bosses and space dinosaur skulls (I am not kidding)

You can buy Really Big Sky from a number of places for about $7.99. Go get it!

 

PS Vita Launch Lineup Details Released

Okay this is exciting and at the same time slightly exasperating. I really really want the PlayStation Vita to release sometime tomorrow and have all the money in the world to buy it as well as all the titles that come with it. Alas I do not live in Utopia, and thus I will have to wait like the rest of non-Japan to get my grubby paws on the device. However, here is a list of things that the PS Vita release in the USA will feature (from the Official PlayStation Blog):

PSVita

SCEA Launch Day Titles
Escape Plan (PSN Only)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Hustle Kings (PSN Only)
Little Deviants
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Super StarDust Delta (PSN only)
UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
wipEout 2048

Launch Window Titles
Gravity Rush
MLB 12 The Show
Reality Fighters
Unit 13

Third Party Publisher Launch Day Titles

Army Corps of Hell
Square Enix, Inc.

Asphalt Injection
Ubisoft, Inc.

BEN10 GALACTIC RACING
D3 Publisher of America

Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND
Aksys Games Localization, Inc.

Dungeon Hunter Alliance
Ubisoft, Inc.

Dynasty Warriors Next
Tecmo Koei America Corporation

F1 2011
Codemasters

EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer
Electronic Arts, Inc.

Lumines Electronic Symphony
Ubisoft, Inc.

Michael Jackson The Experience
Ubisoft, Inc.

Plants vs. Zombies (PSN Only)
Sony Online Entertainment LLC

Rayman Origins
Ubisoft, Inc.

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (PSN Only)
Drinkbox Studios

Touch My Katamari (TB Edit: *snicker*)
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Capcom Entertainment, Inc.

Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
Sega of America

Launch Window Titles

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Warner Bros. Interactive Ent. Inc.

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
NIS America, Inc.

NINJA GAIDEN ∑ PLUS
Tecmo Koei America Corporation

Ridge Racer
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Silent Hill Book of Memories
Konami Digital Ent. America, Inc.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted
505 Games

You know what I really really want to play? (No not Touch My Katamari, however immaturely perverted that may sound) I wish to play the Uncharted game made for the PS Vita. From what I’ve heard and seen, it looks incredible.

So who is going to gift me a PS Vita in the holiday spirit eh? I’ll probably write a poem to you and Sony about it!

 

Anonymous Hacks Security Company’s Database, Steals Credit Card Information

Anonymous, being the decentralized hacker group that it is, does newsworthy works of note as well as rather asinine things that despoil its name as well as the term hacktivistfor the rest of the world. Its recent escapade falls under the second category wherein Anonymous hackers hacked into security company Stratfor and mined it for credit card information. Apparently this was done to misappropriate the money and use it for donations to charitable institutions for Christmas.

anon

The Austin, Texas-based security company is already in talks with law enforcement to contain the confidential documents’ leak. With clients ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force, the company had better work quickly to save both its reputation and corporate and military secrets. In addition, it seems that Stratfor has pulled a Sony by not encrypting the credit card information, leading to many unauthorized transactions alleged by the victims, especially for those who were in need of the money to get home for the Holidays and the like. Terrible move there, Anonymous.

It also seems like Anonymous forgot about the chargeback fees for unauthorized transactions that have to be borne by charitable institutions like the Red Cross.

I am not sure if Anonymous wants to play Robin Hood and hide behind the veneer and motto of steal from the rich and give it to the poor, but this is not medieval England and they are not exactly stealing from the rich. Their current communiqués glorify this act of blatant stealing in the name of freedom and lulz’. This is definitely not what we expected from Anonymous. It’s a sad Christmas for hacktivism.

[Photo Anonymous is Friendly? by liryon]

 

Holiday Gifting Guide for Girls–The Oh God She is Going to Kill Me I Am So Late Edition

The Holidays are here, and the women who bring cheer to your life are all looking at you expectantly (at least figuratively) for a gift. You, however, do not have a gift prepared. OH DARN! What do you do, what do you do? Step one: stop running around like a loony and calm down. Step two: read this post on some sure-fire gifts and ideas for the geeky woman in your life!

  • Caffeine Molecule Necklace: All women like jewelry, but the especially geeky ones love mixing science with artsy necklaces! This sterling silver necklace is made in the shape of the caffeine molecule and looks gorgeous as well as wicked cool on her.
    caffeinemolecule
  • Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 7S Camera: The INSTAX is an instant film camera that has been designed keeping modern sensibilities and hipster mentalities in mind.
    INSTAX
    The camera looks retro cool, comes with a film pack for 100 shots and is available for a gorgeously decent price.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK Color: Sure, the NOOK Tablet has been released and is way better than its previous incarnation, but the original NOOK Color is an excellent device for doing a multitude of things such as reading, writing and browsing.
    nookcolor
    The sleek look and design perfectly complements the Reading Woman.
  • The Dreamy Diana Lens: Instagram is all the rage these days as are the lomo cameras such as Holga and Diana. This resurgence of the old toy cameras has sparked off heated debates between traditional photography enthusiasts and lomography lovers. Nevertheless the Diana is here to stay and many women love the toy camera effect on photographs.

    The Diana lens from Photojojo is made for those who love the effects, but would not want to lug another camera (film, no less) and take pictures. The convenience of the lens on an existing DSLR is unmatched!
  • Sansa Clip +: The Sansa Clip+ is an excellent little music player with unmatched sound quality at an unbeatable price. It comes in 2,4, and 8GB variants and you can also insert an external microSD card to increase the storage content.
    clipplusbig
    Coupled with variations in color, this is the best tiny MP3 player you can buy your girl this holiday season.

So which gift did you end up buying? Tell us in the comments!

Holiday Gifting Guide for Men–The OMG I Am Late Edition

Good lord is it late to get a gift to your father/brother/boyfriend/husband/your-neighbor-you-have-your-eyes-upon. It is very late and you are frantically looking for a gift that ships to you in a couple of days so that you can flash a ginger smile and tell them that it is a combined Christmas, Boxing and New Years’ gift. Perfect timing, yes? Except you do not know what kind of a gift would be suitable for them. Here’s a small list of gifts that are stereotypical for males (although many of these are gender-unspecific so you can also shop for your female acquaintances right here):-

  • Hard Graft Pocket Phone Case: There is no dearth of phone cases. But there is a dearth of classy phone cases that also double up as money holders. pocketbrown-feat_1[1]
    The Pocket Phone Case (subtitled Authentically European) is the epitome of style and class that goes well with that evening of good Scotch and jazz that takes you places.
  • Audio Technica ATH M50: These excellent studio monitoring headphones are the perfect mix of comfort, quality and price. For $160 the sound quality that comes out of these phones are unbeatable. For that music junkie giftee of yours, this is the best you can buy.
    ATHM50[4]
  • BlackRapid RS7 Camera Strap: Conventional DSLR camera straps are rather ill suited for the actual process of taking a photograph, since your camera rests with its back against your body. This is irritating especially when you have a long zoom lens attached to it.
    BRRS7[4]
    The BlackRapid RS7 camera strap eliminates that discomfort by attaching to the bottom of your camera, making it rest comfortably against your body and reducing the pain of carrying a huge camera.
  • Livescribe Smartpen Echo: This is a neat gift. The Livescribe Echo is a smartpen; a pen that is capable of recording what has been written and said and with the help of a special program can download your entire notes and audio for later reading and revision.
    Echo[4]
    It is actually as slick and futuristic as it looks. It comes in various versions (2GB, 4GB and 8GB) along with replaceable tips and Echo-specific notebooks.
  • Star Trek Cuff Links: Shopping for a Trekkie who moonlights as a businessman? Fear not, we have that covered as well. The Star Trek cuff links come in rhodium plated USS Enterprise replicas as well as the Star Trek: TOS communicator versions.
    cf5e_star_trek_cufflinks[4]
    Geeky and made for businessmen? Hell yes!
  • GP2X Caanoo: Now here‘s something suited for the retro gamer. A linux-based handheld that emulates all the lovely games from a bygone era.
    CAANOO (1)[5]
    (Automatic sepia toning of flashbacks not included)

So what did you get this holiday-time for your friends? Tell us in the comments!

 

GoDaddy Supports SOPA, Sparks Exodus From Its Registry Service

When the list of supporters for the Stop Online Privacy Act of the United States of America was put up online, many of the companies were large storehouses of copyrighted information and were predictably backing up this Act. However, one prominent company in that list was GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the largest domain name registrar of the world with [and I quote their own post] around 50 million names registered   to their service.

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This did not sit well with Reddit user selfprodigy. Selfprodigy moved 51 domains of his small business, his personal domain, as well as threatening to move 300 domains of his company, whose IT he manages, away from GoDaddy.

I just finished writing GoDaddy a letter stating why I’m moving my small businesses 51 domains away from them, as well as my personal domains. I also pointed out that i transferred over 300 domains to them as a director of IT for a major American company.

The end result of this post? A massive exodus from GoDaddy to other registrars such as Namecheap and Hostgator. Joining the ranks of these people is Ben Huh, the CEO of the famous (?) Cheezburger group of sites, threatening to move his 1,000 domains away from GoDaddy unless they stop supporting the SOPA:-

Capitalizing on this opportunity are other registrars who are all offering discounts and the like for new registrations and transfers. such as Hostgator, Name.com, EasyDNS and others.

GoDaddy’s statement on this growing concern is one of infinite confidence in itself. To it, these are but a few drops in a boundless ocean of revenue. Yet I am sure that these drops will rain upon them in a torrent of retribution (pun intended). Protect the freedom of the internet, everyone!

RIAA Caught Downloading Illegal Torrents

Well well well if it isn’t a ripe case of somebody set up us the bomb. At least that is what the Recording Industry Association of America claims after being caught red-handed; many people in its offices have been downloading illegal torrents of movies and music, the same kind of people that the RIAA has been on a crusade against for the past years and fining them enormous amounts of money because it infringed on their copyright. Not only are they downloading music torrents (which some may claim may be for research purposes), they are also downloading TV shows and cracked versions of software. All this was done with the aid of a crawler for torrent downloads called YouHaveDownloaded.com, in which the IP addresses logged in public trackers coupled with your current IP address show the torrents downloaded by your IP address. While totally worthless with dynamic IP addresses or with those who use private trackers to download torrents, it is still a very useful site that can be used for a lot of purposes. That is exactly what Torrentfreak did and caught RIAA, amongst others, in the act of doing exactly what they want to crack down upon.

RIAAban

So what was RIAA’s response to this? We totally did not download it, guys. Seriously!. Yes they gave pretty much the exact excuse that those who get the dreaded legal letter from RIAA suing them do. In most cases, the people whom the RIAA sues are actually innocent, because many people do not know the dangers of having an open WiFi connection, and some do not know what a dynamic IP is. However, it seems that the RIAA has built an interesting excuse to get away with this, as a spokesperson for the RIAA claims:-

Those partial IP addresses are similar to block addresses assigned to RIAA. However, those addresses are used by a third party vendor to serve up our public Web site. As I said earlier, they are not used by RIAA staff to access the Internet.

What is actually funny around here is that it is quite obvious that the IP addresses found to be downloading torrents are completely registered to RIAA such as 76.74.24.146. Moreover a company cannot register a block of IP addresses for its own use and then allowa third party vendor to usethese IP addresses.

For a company that is used to suing children, old people without working internet connections or computers, and even dead people, this comes off as a godly smack on the face. I wish this evil organization is taken down, but if wishes were horses…

[Photo To Doby Benjamin Gray]

Risen 2: Dark Waters Launch Date Announced

Risen was a fantastic open world Role Playing Game (RPG) that was not taken up very seriously by many gamers. Its Gothic style of play (being way too hard in the beginning and getting harder progressively) made few, albeit loyal, fans. Nevertheless, the game was hailed as a force unto itself, not as a poor man’s Oblivion but rather one of the closest spiritual successors of the Gothic series.

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1

Now, the developers of Risen have announced Risen 2: Dark Waters, a sequel set in a world where strange and dark things lurk in the murky depths of the sea that are blocking trade routes and traffic. As an Inquisition agent, you are sent to discover the cause and possibly eliminate this problem by seeking any and all help that you can, including that of the the cutthroat pirates. The pirates, however, know more than they are willing to divulge.

Players will have a chance to become pirates, lay siege in the middle of the sea to ships around the sea, or become officers of the law and take down pirate ships. The game also allows players to become adept at using firearms from the old age. Flintlocks and blunderbusses! Yay!

Deep Silver and Piranha Bytes said that the game is set for a 2012 release, with the North American edition going live on the 24th of April, while the European version goes live on the 27th of April.

Considering that this is one of those few games set in harbors and docks with a distinct piratey feel to it, I cannot wait to get my hands on this game. The last game that even sounded this much fun was Sid Meier’s Pirates! and boy was it a lot of fun!

F1: The Game Online Enters Closed Beta

For me, sports-based games are rather pointless because there’s one out every second year and I derive maximum enjoyment by either

  1. Going the wrong way in a track and crashing into other cars in the most spectacular and absurd manner possible. (I’ve been doing this since Superbike 2000 and I believe it’s a remnant of the Road Rash days)
  2. Using cheat codes to win a football/cricket/hockey(?) tourney 234782507 wins to 0 losses.

But of course, all this goes to show that I am not the target demographic, even if I am a Formula 1 fan (to some extent). Nevertheless, the latest official video game from the speeds-that-make-you-scream racing sport of Formula 1 has entered its closed beta and you can give it a try.

f1online

It is apparently one of those free-to-play online things. This is the latest scourge that has developed in the video game industry (quite akin to the 3D craze that has been doing the rounds in every Hollywood movie since Avatar) and it does not seem to be going away any time soon.

However, if racing cars with drivers around the world is your thing, and you do not mind astonishingly terrible lag (alright I am generalizing) you can sign yourself up for the closed beta here. However Codemasters (of GRID, DiRT fame) is developing this game so the racing will be quite fun.

Oh and they also released a trailer here. Do have a looksie!

PS Vita Gets Hacked, Runs Hello World Code

Of course gets hackedis a broad term and generally this means that the handheld can play homebrew games, but considering that the device was released just a couple of days ago, I think this is a brilliant development. Yes, Sony’s new handheld gaming console, the PlayStation Vita has made to run custom code within two days of its release. The handheld features a 5 inch OLED touchscreen display, along with a touchpad behind at the back of the device, to analog stick and a motion sensor along with more-than-capable innards making this a brilliant little gadget. However this hack was performed using the PSP emulation feature of the Vita, with a homebrew jailbreak called the Half-Byte Loader (HBL) being used to run the custom code. helloworldvita Japanese PSP hacker mamosuke put up this post on his blog. The post explains how he used the HBL for firmware 6.31 to run the hello worldscript on his brand new PS Vita. His blog, though, is mostly in Japanese and Google’s translate feature leaves one wanting for something far better. Taken up from his site:-

PSN version save game exploit with other titles, so there are some that may be realized in the start of the PSP Homebrew PS Vita Once you have established how to start the HBL, the saved data is Sony ” Administrative Assistant for PlayStation content “must be transferred to the PS Vita, and further to transfer the state must now transfer the save data folder into the Hello World binaries that only the saved data . Will be transferred into the data folder in the save if the body can then be started with Vita HBL.

This new development also has the ominous effect of Sony noticing and crushing this exploit pathway sooner or later. For a company that has been dealing with leaks for so long, I guess it becomes second nature. So, will you be buying the new Sony PS Vita? Tell us in the comments!

Gaikai Puts Up a Huge List of Streaming Demos On Its Website

Remember Gaikai? That tiny startup that wished to enable folks with not-so-good computers but definitely good internet speeds to play games on the web browser itself? This service was a bit like OnLive, the streaming gaming console, minus the actual buying of another dedicated piece of hardware. Gaikai allows you to do the same thing while lazing around on your bed, with your personal room heater laptop.

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However, unlike OnLive, Gaikai will only be showcasing demos for games on their website. It is like a quick advertising service; instead of people waiting for downloads of demos to finish (and demos these days are huge), they can go to the Gaikai website and launch the demo of whatever game they wish to play and see if they like the game. Gaikai uses its own software to compress the images and send it to your browser screen, while your keyboard and mouse movements are translated into its input in the server far away. All this is accomplished with the magic of Java.

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Currently, the selection of game demos is quite interesting, with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dead Space 2, Dead Rising 2, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age II, and Crysis 2 adorning its halls (and we suspect they really like the number 2). All you need to do is point your browser to the website, allow Java to always run on that site and start playing.gaikaideadrising2

Sadly, however, the service is only supported in some regions, and mine was not one of those supported regions. I suspect this is due to control-lag issues and will not be solved in a while. So if you do try it out, let us know how it went eh?