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

Steam-Exclusive Worms Game will be a Console Copy

What is Worms you ask? If you had asked that question to me in person, my cold stare would have given you frostbite. Worms is the amazing turn-based blow-things-up game where you control a pack (/army/collection) of worms on a mission to annihilate the other team[s] of worms. In the process of annihilation, you also get to blow other things up, like the environment for example. But this is not the best part of the game. The best part of the game is blowing things up with really wacky weapons, like flying SuperSheep that explode when they touch ground.


Now, after a successful bout of sales in the console market, the developers of the Worms series (Team17) are looking to sell another 2D variant exclusively on Steam. This game, entitled Worms: Reloaded will be an extended edition of the console versions of lateand thus will be similar to Worms: Open Warfare or the Worms for XBLA and PSN.


However, that is the end of conjecture as there has not been any sufficient development where news is concerned. Stay tuned for more updates as Team17 irons out issues and eventually launches it on Steam. Until then try not to kill yourself in the excitement!


Spellforce Franchise Sale on Steam.

Well, it’s time for the weekend deal from a whole lot of places, and here’s the one from Steam something that actually piqued my interest enough. The entire Spellforce series is available for 75% off until Monday. Yes, for a cumulative price of $11.24 you get the Spellforce: Platinum and Spellforce 2: Gold editions equivalent to over a hundred hours of RPG-Strategy fun!


Spellforce: Platinum Edition encompasses three games, Spellforce: The Order of the Dawn, Shadow of the Phoenix and Breath of Winter. With these titles, Phenomic established their slightly buggy, nevertheless endearing group of RTS-RPG hybrids firmly into gamers’ hearts.


Using six races (simultaneously, might I add) the player gets to fight over thirty different kinds of enemies in the Real Time Strategy part of the game, while the high degree of customization and identification with the hero character allows the player to delve into the Role Playing slice of this game. In all a fantastic fantasy setting that any RPG fan can jump straight into!


Spellforce 2: Gold Edition was the sequel to the surprising but tacky Spellforce series which had become quite the favorite with many gamers because of its gameplay. It fixed several issues while introducing new possibilities. It also featured multiplayer battles (whereas the previous only featured cooperative multiplayer) with up to 6 opponents. The Gold edition contains both the original, Shadow Wars, and the Dragon Storm addon.


Adding to the original both graphically and features-wise, Spellforce 2 was quite an achievement for Phenomic and did lots of good for JoWood.

So will you buy these two game-packs on Steam? If yes, do let me know why because I am in two minds about this; I have quite a few games in queue and I fear I’ll be buying this only for the sake of buying it. Convince me in the comments section please!

Imported Games to be a Lot Cheaper in India

The Union Budget 2010 of India has given gamers a reason to cheer. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented the budget today and though the Opposition staged a noisy walkout, it gave us gamers a reason to cheer. Why? Because it appears that the excise duty on importing games has been reduced. Under customs/excise duty on import/export, this line was seen:-

Rationalisation of customs duty on gaming software.

Huzzah! But how exactly will that help gamers like you and I? Gamebashing originally reported this, noting  that for those who are intent on playing a newly released game it would be really helpful (although for PC gamers, there’s always digital distribution). However, it will definitely help console gamers as each copy of the game is imported, as opposed to PC games where an Indian publisher imports the master CD. Although just how much it will help console gamers is yet to be seen:-

It needs to be seen what effect it’ll have on the price of games in retail as distributors in India too import the game CDs (for consoles) rather than importing just a master CD.


Yes, the Indian gaming scene is looking up, what with the launch of a couple of games from Indian developers for the PlayStation systems and now this.

New Steam Client Opens for Public Beta

Steam is by far the best commercial digital distribution website around. It does have the advantage of being more visible than the other digital distributors and being Valve’s platform. That company makes games that can only be described in a word as awesome, and nothing else. The Steam client is the one portal through which you can play games that you have downloaded.


Valve has apparently become bored of the original user interface (UI) and has decided to release a new UI. The result is like playing Counter Strike 1.6 and then switching to Counter Strike: Source. The revamped UI, though marginally slower than the previous, looks slick and functions very well. If you have the Steam client installed, you can click this link and choose 2010 UI Update’ under the Beta Participation dropdown menu.


The UI update requires a restart of the client and revamps it entirely. The interface looks far more modern than the previous one, fitting with my Windows 7 decals. The store page itself looks far better than on the browser. The browser performance was marginally better than earlier (though I can attribute that to my faster connection today) and it looks really slick.


The library can be sorted according to your wishes by grouping them into custom categories. This is especially useful when you have a really large collection of games on Steam.


The game page is really cool. It shows you the number of friends currently playing the game, and all your friends who play that game. Recent news pertaining to the game is also shown below the friends section. Valve had always wanted to make the Steam platform social and it seems that they have come close to that.


The in-game overlay has also been drastically changed, allowing you to access Steam in a more streamlined fashion.



The news and community links have largely been left untouched (as they are merely web pages).

In all, Valve has launched a pretty decent update to their client. They will therefore be hoping for a positive reaction from most of the users and only time (involving a lot of gaming) will tell if they have struck gold. Nevertheless, I advise you to go ahead and switch to the new UI, it does look great!

Two Perfect One-Button Time Wasters

Flash games are the perfect way to waste your precious time. There are various reasons as to why that is so, namely:-

  • They are tiny, and they load within minutes(barring a few exceptions).
  • The controls are very easy to figure out.
  • They have a huge variety.
  • They are absolutely, without fail, FUN!

Now that the causalities of Flash games being fun is done with, how about a flash game that has a single button as the controlling element? Let’s make that two. Presenting two one-button games that will leave you wondering where the last one hour (or two) went off two to!

One Button Bob

Introducing One Button Bob, and his pixelated adventures. In The Adventures of One Button Bob, Bob jumps, throws boomerangs at bats, stops and runs with a single click of your mouse. You might be wondering how he does all that with a single button? The answer: not simultaneously. The mouse click’s behavior changes each level, and eventually you will have to fight a boss.

Die Bat!

How many clicks will it take you?


The second single-button shilly-shally software is G-Switch is a single concept taken to the extreme. You control a futuristic runner through a series of platforms. Sounds simple? Well, instead of jumping over platforms, you get to switch gravity. Here are a couple of screenshots that will make you understand better:-


Here is when the runner is running on the flatbed Newton’s apple kind of gravity.


And here is when you click the mouse and the gravity switches. And you keep doing this if you want to stay alive. Causes of death: the moving screen engulfs you or you drop into nothingness.

So, when you are waiting for something, or you just want to waste time, fear not for these games will come to your rescue!

Just so you know, I solely blame Digg for this.

Glass Stair from Apple Store up for Sale on eBay

The internet is a giant collection of the odd, the strange and the completely weird (not to mention the WTF-inducing). That being said, eBay is the place where random oddities are auctioned off on a daily basis. In the past, shrunken heads, lawn-mowed grass and even a subliminal message maker (!) have been sold on this website; though many of these claims are debatable. Nevertheless, a current listing spotted by Gizmodo has a giant cracked glass stair from an Apple store up for sale.

The Stair

eBay user heylookitskibbs picked it upafter the store replaced it. Why? Because he figured that one day he will be able to sell it on eBay for a whopping $2500.

It’s from Apple Fifth Ave. in NYC. They have a huge spiral staircase you can see here: replaced it with a new one after a customer dropped a snapple bottle on it and cracked it. I picked it up before it could be thrown out over a year ago, figuring it’s a collectible. When these are new, they cost 10K to buy from the German glass-makers. So, since it’s cracked I figure it’s worth at least $2500, considering the steps are all custom ordered.

The Crack

Can’t pay $2500? Well, the starting bid is $700, so you can get it for less via the auction. Happy buying!

C&C 4 Going the Starcraft 2 Way, Will Not Have Dedicated Servers or LAN Support

The slow demise of LAN play is becoming a trend, much like the entire constant connection while playingbusiness. First, Blizzard’s Starcraft II decides to do away with LAN play, to the collective anger of many players around the world, notably from one small nation. Then Activision’s Modern Warfare 2 follows along, featuring the glaring lack of dedicated servers. Now, EA’s Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight has also removed LAN play and the support for dedicated servers, along with the annoying DRM protection of being constantly connected to the internet.


Destructoid quoted lead designer Sam Bass who stated that the system integrated with the achievements and unlocked materials easily.

…across single-player, multiplayer and skirmish and all the information is stored in a server. So if you go to another machine — friend’s house, Internet café – whatever, you can login with your profile and all the stuff you’ve unlocked is accessible to you there. It all lives on a server so you can’t really do dedicated servers with that.

Though EA has revamped the multiplayer situation to such an extent that it is fluid, it still will never have the charm of clan matches and face-to-face battles between two players. Let’s hope that in the future, gaming companies find a better way to handle piracy than this. For now, however, we have to deal with this.

Annoying Assassin’s Creed II DRM: Needs Constant Internet Connection

You read the title right Assassin’s Creed II requires a constant internet connection while playing. If, in the midst of an intense battle, somehow your internet connection is broken, the game will pause as it tries to reconnect. If it cannot establish a connection to the Ubisoft servers, then the game will quit. The last save game is stored online directly for you to resume your workwhen you can reconnect.


This extreme anti-piracy initiative is a first from Ubisoft. The publisher has also provided an FAQ for this service which boils down to these points:-

  • Buy the game.
  • Make an account on Ubisoft.
  • Anywhere you have internet access, you can play the game.

Nevertheless, this system works on a cloud and you can install your copy in as many machines as you want. Your saves are synchronized to the server and you can resume your gameplay from whichever computer you have. It is like Steam and its related cloud gaming system Steamworks. Only Steam does not always need a constant connection.

Oh the sorrow of legal gaming/music/movies.

Sony Targets Used Games, Blocks Online Play

Sony hates the entire used-games business. They, as the publishers, get not even the slightest percentage of it; everything goes to the retailer. So they decided to make their own money from this business by targeting online play, the forte of many games including SOCOM US Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 3. Bought a used copy of Fireteam Bravo 3? You need to dish out $20 to play online that is the price of the unlock code for playing online. Buyers of the UMD have to register their PSP over the PlayStation Network (PSN) with this code to be able to play online.


So what prompted Sony to make this perfectly legal, yet absolutely lame and non-gamer friendly (when you do consider that most gamers are college students who need to save up money to buy games) move? In an interview with IGN, John Keller of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) says that this is an initiative to fight piracy on the PSP. Yes he just said that you, the used-game buyer, are a pirate.

Piracy continues to be an issue of concern for the PSP platform. SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 is a trial run for a new initiative we are exploring for the platform.

On the reception of this initiative, Keller stated this:-

From our research, this will be received quite positively. Remember, piracy affects more than just the creators of the game.

Sure, Mr. Keller, the used game buyers will be very happy with this initiative. caters to RPG lovers with Divinity Pack for $7.98

Now that Divinity 2 has been released, the best classic games digital distribution site is selling Divinity and Beyond Divinity together for $7.98. Kick-ass if you ask me, if this Game Central review is to be believed. This promo is only up for this weekend and will end on Monday, February 22nd at 11:59PM EDT.



Divine Divinity, the first game in this series is acknowledged by many as being one of the greatest action RPGs around. With a lot of customization possible such that the builds are different each time you play with either the Fighter, Mage or the Survivor. The game itself is massive anything between fifty to sixty hours of your life will be spent on this game and all its side quests. Now if you truly are an RPG fan, you know that the time spent playing an RPG is equivalent to reading a huge fantasy novel, watching its movie and being its hero/heroine all in one. So ignore the comment on the amount of time you would spend on the game and immerse yourself into it!

Beyond Devinity

Beyond Divinity however did not get as much praise as its predecessor did, nevertheless it is an action RPG and if you really liked Divine Divinity you must consider buying this one although it is not a prerequisite for Divinity 2.

I for one have never played the Divinity games, but now that this weekend promo is up on, I am seriously considering buying these gems (at least one of them is) and adding them to my ever-growing queue of games I still have to play. Do let us know if you enjoyed Divine Divinity in the comments!

Google Reader Speeds Up: Now Serves in Real Time

If you have been following a recent event on a Blogger or Posterous blog via Google Reader, chances are that you might have noticed the near-instantaneous delivery of a published post. Yes, Google Reader has sped up; posts from blogs that use the open PubSubHubbub (PSHB) protocol for publish/subscribe communications are put up instantaneously on Google Reader. This is great news for those who wish to follow a current development closely without delays!


Though it has always been a source of disappointment to many Google Reader users, the company did not address the complaint of late delivery till now. Google, however, is yet to officially state anything in this regard, though a Google spokesperson confirmed this development. PubSubHubbub is used by Google itself (and Blogger by extension) via Feedburner and the App Engine. WordPress users can install a PSHB plugin to their blog to enable this functionality.

We are still waiting for an official confirmation, as stated before. The official blog still has the recommendations post up, and it is likely to stay there for a couple of days as Google irons out any issues with real-time support. Nevertheless it is heartening to see the speedy delivery now in Google Reader. Kudos to Google!

Vicious Engine 2 Adds “Lesser Consoles”

This was expected, considering the fact that Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond was a not-so-graphically-intense 2D Contraption of a game for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) and later the PlayStation Network (PSN) as a download-only game. Vicious Cycle Software, the developer has announced that they will be supporting the lesser consoles the Nintendo Wii, the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the PlayStation 2 (PS2), Joystiq reports. By supporting, they mean that their Vicious Engine 2 (Ve2) will be used to develop games for these three consoles in addition to the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and the Xbox 360.


Vicious Cycle Software, a premier developer of interactive entertainment and game development technology, today announced that support for the Nintendo Wiiâ„¢, PlayStation ®2, and PSP ® (PlayStation ®Portable) platforms is coming to Vicious Engine 2 (Ve2) in early 2010. Ve2 currently supports both the Xbox 360 ® and PlayStation ®3, and the expanded cross-platform support will make Ve2 the most complete solution for next generation development on the market.

Vicious Cycle has experienced its fair share of ups and downs with the ups being not so high, and the downs being fairly depressing. Dead Head Fred, for example was released when Monster Hunter practically ate up everything else around it and the company admitted that they did not anticipate the abrupt change of audiences in the market. Nevertheless the turn of events seems to suggest that a graphically satisfying game will be up in the near future for these consoles.

Verified Twitter Lists Make Fan-life Easier

If you frequent Twitter to keep track of your favorite famous people, you know that the real celebs are those who have a Verified Account badge in their profile. This appears in only one place (top right corner above the Name of the user) and will click-through to this page. This is a beta feature from Twitter to prevent identity theft and confusion. Indian film-stars like Priyanka Chopra and Genelia D’Souza have verified Twitter accounts. But in the variety of Twitter users and usernames, it is hard to find verified accounts of your favorite kind of celebrity.


However, in a bid to make fans’ lives easier, the folks at Twitter have made an account that follows and lists all the Twitter Verified Accounts in one place. This account, aptly named verifiedis itself a Verified Account and has quite a few lists of Verified Accounts. From Olympians to Soccer to Technology to Entertainment, there is a list for mostly everything that would make a person famous. Wonderfully useful, following any of these lists allows you to see the updates in real time.


Many Indian celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bacchan do not have a Verified Account because this feature is still in Beta. However, that will change in the near future. Nevertheless, the list for cricket caught my eye (mostly because it was following a single person). It seems that IPL Chairman Lalit K Modi is on Twitter, and is pretty active!

Of course, if you have forgotten what Twitter lists are, or how to create one, Techie Buzz is at your service!

Shattered Horizon Free to Play This Weekend

Futuremark Games Studio took the not-so-novel concept of the First Person Shooter and eliminated Newton’s meddling altogether in this fantastic multiplayer-only game. With the familiarity of the firmness of land beneath you eliminated altogether, the coldness and haunting of space encroaches upon you in Shattered Horizon. However, you have intuitive controls and intense 32-player action around you to forget all that and just press on the attack! Steam is selling the single-user game for $9.99, while the Clan Pack is available for $29.99! But, of course you cannot judge all that by the screenshot itself, so Steam is offering this game for free this weekend.


Shattered Horizon will test your agility, reflexes as well as a general sense of direction in a brilliantly built environment. This comes at a price this game is DirectX10 only. Yes it does require a DirectX10 capable video and Windows Vista or Windows 7 running on your computer apart from the other requirements to play. Yes, fighting in zero gravity has its price. Nevertheless, feast your eyes on the eye-popping visuals below:-



If your computer can support this game, you have the money to spend and you have a decent internet connection, not to mention if you are a fan of FPSs, grab this game off Steam before the weekend is up. If not, just download it and play it over the weekend (1262MB Download).

NecrovisioN: Lost Company Available for Pre-Purchase on Steam and Impulse

When NecrovisioN, the original game featuring shocking horror mixed with First Person Shooter (FPS) elements, was released it received mixed reviews; the game was mostly praised for its run-and-gun nature and criticized for its relative lack of anything more complicated. Nevertheless, it was priced well and told the story of a young American soldier during the Great War. As Simon Bukner and his men were pushed deeper and deeper through a series of dark trenches on a particularly bloody battle, they discovered that war truly was hell. Combining magic, demonic powers and the good old Springfield .30, this game kept several players happily occupied especially because it was cheaper than quite a few other games out there.


NecrovisioN: Lost Company aims at recreating that spectacle of gore, magic and vampires in a prequel to the original. However, the perspective is switched you play a German soldier who discovers and fights the monstrosities from underground. You will lead troops from every country as they are gathered around in the front on a massive assault against these evil beings until finally you succumb to the evil powers and become the first Necromancer who opposes Bukner from the original.


With ten new levels, fifteen new characters and quite a few special upgrades in addition to six new weapons, this one will definitely appeal to all those who enjoyed the original.


NecrovisioN: Lost Company is available on Steam and Impulse.

Bonus for Steam buyers: Those who preorder Lost Company get a free copy of the original NecrovisoN if they pre-order! This offer ends on the 20th of February! Hurry!