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

Sleepy Time with Minecraft’s Newest Update

Yay new Minecraft beta version! With a lot of fancy things, no less! There are quite a few very cool changes that have come up in Beta v1.3 such as beds, new graphics and a new mapping version.

Minecraft Bed via RockPaperShotgun

When I fired up my client after the update the first thing that I stared at was the world screen. The Worlds Have Been Changed!! (In other words, the save file format for the worlds have been changed) Players have to convert their old saves to the new version (wonderfully known as Scaevolus’ McRegion) which might take a while. It did so for me, of course. The best part about the new save file format is that you can name them! Previously all you had was “World 1″ or “World 2″.

The maps have the new lighting system which ran buttery smoothly on my machine and made the game look super cool. The shadows are more realistic, the shading is softer and… it just looks so pretty. The game also has the new Graphicsoption under settings and although it contains the same old Fancy/Fastgraphics settings, I’m sure there’s scope for other options in the upcoming updates.

And finally, (ignoring the redstone blocks and half-blocks) there are the beds. They’re quite cheap to construct, requiring three wool blocks and three wooden planks. The best part about them is that if you sleep in the beds at night, the game skips directly to the morning. This means no more running away from zombies, creepers, skeletons, spiders and skeletons riding spiders (*shudder). The other updates are given below:-

* Implemented a new lighting engine with the help of MrMessiahs (can be turned off)
* Changed the options around, added a new Graphics optionsbutton
* Added beds. If all players in a map sleeps in a bed during night, the game immediately skips until morning
* Added three new half-size blocks
* Added Delay/Repeater redstone dust blocks
* Added whitelisting to the server. To use, enter whitelist <cmd>where cmd is on, off, add <player>, remove <player>, listor reload
* New save file format, old maps need to be converted (that might take a while..)
* It’s now possible to have more than five save slots, and to rename saves
* Scrollbars in both the texture pack list, and in the map selection screen
* Replaced the Mojang splash image to reflect the new logo colors
* .. and a bunch of bug fixes and tweaks!

The Amazingly Awesome Angry Birds Birthday Cake

Almost everyone likes Angry Birds. The game is simple, delightfully easy to learn and atrociously addictive and incredibly hard at times to beat. This simple mix of great things has made the hit Rovio Mobile game the best-seller on the iPhone/iPad and Android mobile systems. Considering how quickly this game of catapulting suicidal birds at megalomaniacal pigs.


So when a geeky father decided to make an Angry Birds themed cake for his son, he also decided to go a little bit further. He made a playable Angry Birds cake, complete with destructible walls of wafer and birds and pigs made of icing.

Electricpig’s (how ironic) Mike Cooper’s son was a big Angry Birds fan. On his sixth birthday, Cooper wanted to give him a memorable birthday cake and what else could be more memorable than a cake that also doubles as a real-life video game? On the video’s description, Cooper writes:-

It’s become a family tradition that I make increasingly ridiculous birthday cakes for my kids each year. So with my little boy Ben turning 6-years-old over the weekend, and appreciating his love of Angry Birds, I thought I’d have a shot a making him a playable Angry Birds birthday cake with working catapult and iced birds as ammunition.

100% incredible! He has also shared the how-to for making this cake on the Electricpig website. Do check it out if you’d like to wear a chef’s hat and surprise your friend/spouse/child who is an Angry Birds nut!

Another Man Dies Due to Addictive Internet Gaming

The people of China need to stand up and pay attention not only to the censorship that is rampant in the country, but also to the danger of addiction (to the point of not eating or drinking) to video games. It is not safe to test your limits while maximizing your character in an online universe. One must remember that the real game is real life, and video games are just an escape (albeit short and fun-filled) from the reality.

Internet Bar by Fang Guo

An unidentified 30 year old Chinese man slipped into a coma, and died in a clinic later, after playing a video game in an internet café non-stop for three days. The man had not slept for the three days, and had consumed very little sustenance. The café, in the capital city of Beijing, also said that in his last month, the man had spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1,500) on massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs).

While this kind of behavior can be attributed to players who are completely at the mercy of the virtual world, it seems that this man had some unresolved issues with his life due to which he turned to video gaming. The indifference to life in general and a sudden, unhealthy addiction to something points to depression or other psychological problems.

Nevertheless, internet café providers need to meter the usage of patrons. The casual ignorance of the managers of the parlor is partly to blame; just because the man had the money does not mean the providers ignore his health.

Gearbox Head Wants Feminists to Use Duke Nukem as a Channel for Spreading Awareness

Anyone who has played Duke Nukem knows that the Duke is… well, quite the chauvinist. The satirical action game series takes machismo to an unreal high with fawning women lusting after a crass, crude and hulking one-man army. This has not changed the slightest bit in Gearbox’s First Person Shooter (FPS) Duke Nukem Forever. The game features Duke participating in schoolgirl threesomes, watching strippers and smoking cigarette brands called Fags. Needless to say, the game will be quite the controversy magnet when it is released.


However, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford is perfectly happy with the controversy Duke Nukem Forever will generate. In fact, he welcomes it:-

“I’ll tell you what, if some feminist organisation that is doing a great job advocating women’s rights worldwide, which I think is really important, can get some advantage by using Duke… go for it. How is there a downside for humanity? Go for it. Take it. Use Duke. That would be awesome.

“If anyone can better our world through the use of anything, and if Duke is a tool to help them do that, that’s fine. The people that are entertained… The choices people make are their choices.”

He also touched upon the satirical universe that Duke Nukem inhabits with aliens stealing the women to be baby-making machines and transforming men into pigs. Duke, in fact, wishes to save the women from their harsh fates. If the women are attracted to his engorged charisma, then he’ll not exactly complain, will he?

“He’s the centre of his universe, and everyone in his universe exists to please him, and women offer him different things to men, but he himself is… His whole purpose in existing is to save and protect women not that they need saving and protecting, but in his world they do, because there’s this rare reality of how our species reproduces, and so the aliens are going to use that against us.”

He also quipped about the game’s cigarettes being called fags, which at some point of time was changed in the English language from a slang term for cigarettes to a derogatory term for homosexuals.

“Sometimes in entertainment, things that people are already aware of are a great opportunity for them to get attention for it. So things like ‘fags’… It’s a stupid videogame. They’re just jokes, and I think everybody gets it.”

It’s refreshing to see that Gearbox is not overly concerned with the controversial imagery and thought that this game will obviously thrust forth upon the world when it is released. Instead, Pitchford’s genial comments on a gaming franchise that is known for its crassness and satire predict a newer and better future for gaming.

Dragon Age II Demo Out

Followed by the necessary a million downloads gets you unlockable goodies in the finished game!, Bioware has released the playable demo of their new epic Dragon Age II. The game with features that amalgamate the storyline style of Mass Effect with the rudiments of role playing is set to be the next Role Playing Game (RPG) of the Year (that is unless The Witcher 2 trumps it which I am hoping will).


As Hawke, the to-be Champion of the world of Dragon Age, you will journey through the different locations of the universe. The main character is fully voiced, and the dialog options are just the gist of what the character actually says (as in the Mass Effect games):-

In the demo, players will venture through the game’s prologue, choosing from three different character classes. They’ll also learn more about Hawke and hone their skills and abilities that will make them the ultimate hero. After finishing the prologue, players will enter a key new location in the world of Dragon Age, Kirkwall, befriending Isabela, a romantic interest in the game who is also a deadly smuggler. Upon completion of the demo, players will unlock a special weapon, Hayder’s Razor, an ancient dwarven blade which increases health, mana, and combat abilities, in the full release of Dragon Age 2.

Bioware has also created two new in-game items that will be released in the full version of Dragon Age II if there are one million downloads for the demo. The two items are the Lothering’s Lament and The Far Cliffs of Kirkwall. Both of them are lore books that give an experience (XP) boost and money when read.

So download the demo today and tell us about your experiences with it!

The demo is also available off Steam, in case you don’t like no-fuss downloading and installation.

Zynga’s [Probable] Worth: $10 Billion?

Speculative reports put up social gaming giant Zynga’s worth in the $7-10 billion range. The makers of Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Facebook games are minting money for their games in the fundraiser market. For a company that makes all its money from social games on Facebook, it’s pretty incredible and makes us all wait for its next big hit. No… wait, we aren’t waiting for any game from Zynga.


Wall Street Journal reported that Zynga was close to raising $500 million in a fundraising round with investors:-

San Francisco-based Zynga is in talks with a group of new investors, including T. Rowe Price Group Inc., Fidelity Investments and Morgan Stanley for the fundraising round, these people said. An existing investor, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is also likely to participate with a small investment, one of these people said.

Earlier, Zynga was in a position to get $250 million invested and have a valuation of $7-9 billion, according to the report. The social gaming giant is quite the pet of investors even though some of its profits are shared with Facebook. The explosive growth, per se, of Zynga contributed to much of the love given to it by the investors. However, though the company has tried to de-link itself from Facebook with some games, the success of Zynga is still largely due to Facebook.

Nevertheless, while this round of investments clearly helps the casual Facebook game lover, the core gaming value of the games are pretty much zero. These are not realvideo games, whatever they may claim.

Free-to-play Shooter M.A.T. Announces $1 Charity Program

Free-To-Play massively multiplayer shooter M.A.T. (Mission Against Terror) is quite a successful implementation of the free-to-play model. Developed by Toronto based Wicked Interactive, the game has a decent base of users and does a few things right that helps in its user base, such as solid gameplay and the necessary humanity’s survival is at staketrope.


However, now Wicked Interactive along with charity organization Gamers Outreach have been working on a project that will help Dallas Veteran’s Hospital and its patients. The project, GO KART, is basically the manufacture of a portable entertainment kiosk for mobile gaming for patients:-

Project GO KART is an initiative of Gamers Outreach that funds the construction of portable entertainment kiosks which are used to transport video games and other sources of entertainment to patients who have limited access to activities outside their rooms.

Wicked Interactive has announced that for every new registration for M.A.T., they will be donating one dollar for the GO KART project.

This is how you can help the mission as well:-

1.       Check out the Mission Against Terror campaign postcard in the PAX East swag bags.
2.       Use special information printed on the postcard to download and register Mission Against Terror.
3.       Add the special “Support” icon to your Facebook profile or personal blog.
4.       Tell your friends. Remember, for every person who signs up, one dollar will be donated to Gamers Outreach.
5.       Come to the special “Gamers Doing Good” panel on Friday, March 11, featuring Gamers Outreach’s own Zach Wigal and Stephanie Shea. More info:

Official Minecraft on the iPhone and iPad, Android Coming Soon

Indie gaming’s underdog story of one man’s simple game taking the entire world by storm has just turned to a new chapter the mobile gaming chapter. Swedish developer Markus Persson (aka Notch) and his company Mojang Specification’s Minecraft will eventually be coming to the Apple iOS devices officially (because, yes there are a few non-official ports of the game for the devices already).


Gamasutra’s exclusive report was further expanded upon by the creator of Minecraft himself. Before the Android public could start their outcry on the injustice, Daniel Kaplan (Kappische) tweeted:

Android is coming too of course! :)#Minecraft

On Reddit, Notch said that the mobile version of the game will not be a port it will be a fully rewritten piece of software being worked upon by the ninth (and newest) member of the Mojang family:-

Since we can’t use Java on the iOS, and we want both the mobile versions to use the same codebase, the Android version won’t be written in Java. Besides, we want the game to be made for the new devices, not just a simple port, so a rewrite is good anyway.

We hired a new guy for that, he’ll be starting on Saturday (the same day the entire office goes to GDC.

The mobile version of Minecraft is being developed by Aron Neiminen, the aforementioned new guy, and we should expect it later this year.

P.S. It also seems like the Minecraft website is down. Expectant users? New version? Who knows?

Japanese Man Deep Fries a PSP and Eats It

…or at least, tries to. These Japanese people, I tell you they’re absolutely bonkers. There’s an endless list of good things that the Japanese do from electronics to anime. There’s also an endless-er list of crazy things that they do. In this case, it’s a man who deep fries a battered Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) covered in batter (see what I did there?) and then tries to eat it. All this while, his friend films the entire cooking experience.


You might ask why the two make an entirely pointless (I cannot possibly think of a point here, except internet infamy) ten minute video of the ordeal. In these ten minutes, the man is seen introducing his PSP which incidentally has a Monster Hunter game running (how typical) and laughing maniacally as he coats it in batter in the kitchen, near a pan of boiling oil. Then he drops it in the oil, puts on cool shades and starts laughing. Three and a half minutes in, the two of them start coughing from the fried fumes of electronics and plastic.

Eventually he’s seen taking the melted, battered PSP out and dipping it in some sort of sauce. Apparently, they wanted to make a tempura dish with a PSP. Then the guy actually bites a piece off the device and tries to eat it. Needless to say, that does not turn out very nicely.

Some Japanese people, I tell you. Bonkers.

Twitter Restores Banned Ubermedia Applications

Twitter has a lot of problems with third party apps using the name Twitterin their app name. That or UberMedia fought a long and hard battle over the weekend to resolve the banning issue with the micro blogging giant.


On the 18th of this month, Twitter announced that the then Ubertwitter and Twidroyd had been suspended for violatingTwitter’s policies. The announcement also had a plug for Twitter’s own applications on the Blackberry and Android systems. Their reasons for suspension were shortly made known to the public:-

“Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.”

Today, Twitter updated their original post. They lifted the ban on the two applications, stating that the applications had started taking steps to remedy the policy violations. A new update for both the applications is available on the respective markets and only a re-sign in is needed for the apps to start working as they used to.

However, amidst this chaotic weekend, the truereason as to why Twitter suspended the apps without any prior warning crept up to the surface. Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia, the creator of UberTwitter UberSocial responded on Quora as to why the apps had been suspended. However, the best comment on the entire issue came from a user who asked the vital question without making it seem like a question:-

Yes, and it’s total coincidence that on the day they were suspended Twitter ran the promoted Tweet #TwitterMobile and that UberTwitter was never suspended before being bought by Bill Gross & raising $17.5m.

This sort of shoddy and offensive behavior on Twitter Inc.’s part is not going to win it any brownie points later. However, being confined to its bounds (being the largest microblogging platform) we see monopoly mechanics emerging from its depths, although the entire affair has dulled our opinion of Twitter as a whole.

Vision Gaming Engine of Trinigy to Support the NGP

A geek’s wet dreams are made of these. Trinigy’s Vision Game Engine will be supporting the Next Generation Portable (NGP) console of Sony. The second in the PlayStation Portable series from Sony will have the hardware specifications that are at par with the home console from Sony, the PlayStation 3. This is great news for gamers as the Vision Game Engine is quite the pretty-looking thing and is well built for different kinds of games.


The NGP will be all about graphics and new era games with its rear touch screen. Implemented well, the games would be brilliant to watch and extremely intuitive to play. Said Dag Frommhold, managing director at Trinigy:-

SCE is known for producing powerful computer entertainment systems and handheld entertainment systems capable of delivering rich gaming experiences and eye-popping graphics. With support for NGP, the Vision Game Engine gives developers a flexible, full-featured solution for speeding the creation of graphically superior, high-performance casual and hard-core gamesfor portable entertainment systems.


The main features of the engine for the NGP are [from the press release]:-

  • Optimized character skinning system for NGP allows for efficient rendering of detailed characters with very high polygon and bone counts.
  • Full support for cross-platform and platform-specific texture formats offers a straight forward workflow and easy porting of existing content, while providing high-loading performance and platform-specific content optimizations, where required.
  • Multithreading system takes full advantage of NGP’s CPU cores for animations, mesh deformation, particle simulation, physics, visibility determination, and more.
  • Highly efficient rendering Efficient rendering system minimizes CPU load.
  • Optimized shader/shader constant handling includes full cross-platform compatibility.
  • Comprehensive support for NGP’s user interfaceincludes multi-touch as well as support for dual analog sticks.
  • Fully featured graphics technology includes normal/parallax maps, specular maps, dynamic lighting, post-processing effects and more.

Let’s hope we get to see a lot of Arcania on the PSP2!

Dead Island Movie? [Rumor]

One can only expect so much after the poignant Oscar award-winning trailer of the game. Techland’s upcoming zombie survival horror game Dead Island has received wonderful acclaim before any gameplay video was shown. This was purely based on the CGI/Machinima trailer of the game which hits both the emotional and temporal lobes of our brains mellifluously.

The trailer shows a father protecting his family from a horde of bloodthirsty zombies. The family, it seems, came to the island on a holiday and they chose the wrong time of the year to do it. There is no backstory or introduction to the game; just some beautiful (and slightly creepy, given the context) music playing in the background to aid the visuals.

It appears that Sean Daniel, producer of The Mummy and Pootie Tang and Union Entertainment have bought the rights for the zombie outbreak movie. They are also on the look out for the right script for the movie.

Union Entertainment also owns the movie rights for Techland’s Western shooter Call of Juarez that tells the tale of a wrongly accused native American being pursued by a law-abiding, but slightly crazy priest cum judicator with a shotgun.

dead island

The CEO of Koch Media (parent company of Deep Silver, the publisher of Dead Island) said to Kotaku (which alleges that the movie rights may not have been sold to the producers):-

We are looking for quality above all else for a movie based on Dead Island. We want to do it the right way as film realizations of games (or vice versa) usually fail to deliver what the fans were looking for.

We can only hope to see one good film realization of a zombie game before we retire in peace, though. Let’s hope this one is it.

Team17 Launches Worms Licensing Program

Everybody likes Worms. No, not the squiggly and brown things that fertilize soil and cause little girls to make a puke-face; the Worms I’m talking about are the squiggly and brown things that cause mayhem and destruction and make little boys laugh as they blow things to bits. (Alright, I might have made a generalization back there). But, yes, everybody likes Worms the turn based worm-to-worm destruction game that has been around for quite a while and has a small but devoted fan following around it.


UK based Team17, the developers of the Worms series, has announced that they will be releasing their trademark for licensing merchandise based on the Worms characters and universe. The cartoony graphics are quite well known and the games have been well received (and gently criticized for not going beyond the tried-and-tested formula which always works) by gamers worldwide, and the merchandise is also expected to do well:-

For the first time, the hugely popular videogames franchise Wormsâ„¢ is being offered to licensees, retailers and promoters for a range of merchandise, by UK-based brand owner Team17 Software Ltd. and its worldwide licensing agent AT New Media. Wormsâ„¢, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2010, is a bestselling, award-winning and hilarious turn-based strategy videogame.

The Facebook fan page update says that it might take many months before any official merchandise hits retail stores. However, the thought of seeing our beloved Worms on cups, saucers, pillowcases, iPod docks and Holy Hand Grenades is quite a nice one. Let’s hope they don’t fizzle out like a badly aimed Sheep Strike.

Magicka Hits Retail Shelves, Releases Soundtrack for Free

Magicka is pretty funny. I thought it was passably funny until I passed Chapter 4 (A new hope) and went to Chapter 5 (Havindr Strikes Back). The light references to geek culture ranging from the aforementioned Star Wars to the narrative start with Stay a while… and listenfrom Diablo II touches our heartstrings (as does the SkiFree reference, but that’s another story).


But, more importantly, Magicka deals with a fairly unique mechanism of combining the elements into a unique Magick. The host of magical combinations along with collectable spells that deal extra damage is quite interesting. Initially, that is why you play the game. Later, though, when you find out the best combinations for each type of spell, you play the game to find out just how silly yet humorous this game can get.

Although the Arrowhead Studios-developed game was a download-only title for some time now, retail boxes have been produced in the UK and France. Publisher Paradox Interactive believes that this will entice more people to try the (pretty cheap) game and help the developer make mods and sequels (or better games).


This announcement comes hand in hand with the release of the soundtrack of Magicka for free at the game’s website. That’s right, you get twenty-six free ambient music tracks straight from the developer. The game has come a long way from its buggy release, and although the game is not extremely good, it’s well worth the $10 purchase.

Medal of Honor Developer Working on Sequel

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…is how the most recent Medal of Honor blog post starts. At that point of time I was wondering about a great many things. I was wondering if there would be a cow level in a Medal of Honor expansion, whether we would get to implement nether portals in the game (and get transported to a Minecraft world) or, very typically, whether pigs have wings.


But, oh no, I was never wondering whether Medal of Honor will have a sequel. I swear!

Nevertheless, yes, it seems that Danger Close is closing in on the sequel for Medal of Honor. The reboot of the original war shooter (before most of the original developers quit and became Infinity Ward, developer of the hugely popular Call of Duty series) in a modern garb saw much takers. 5 million takers, to be exact:-

Just recently, EA announced that the reboot of Medal of Honor was a big success with over 5 million copies sold. We wanted to take a moment to thank each of you for supporting us, our new studio and our storied franchise. We would especially like to thank all of the long time Medal of Honor fans out there who have stuck with us over the years.

Since our launch last October, we’ve studied, listened and absorbed much of your feedback and are very excited to be marching forward on the next title.

The last line rings out a bell for all Medal of Honor lovers. The next titlehere is the sequel, and EA is so happy with the sales figures that they are actually commissioning it. Considering that EA’s other shooter Battlefield 3 has also been seen in the developer forest, grazing and getting developed it will be fun to see exactly what the direction of Medal of Honor 2 will be.