Xbox Live Sees a Price Hike

Console gaming just hit a high! Price-wise, at least. Pardon the paltry pun, but after about eight years of service, the Xbox Live service is increasing its prices from $50 a year to $59.99 a year in North America.


According to Major Nelson,

Starting on November 1, a year Gold subscription to Xbox Live will run $59.99, versus the current price of $49.99. One month subscriptions will jump from $7.99 to $9.99, while three month subs will rise from $19.99 to $24.99.

The ~$10 hike will come into effect from the 1st of November, this year so you’d better renew your subscription within September if you wish to save a few bucks!

Blizzard Holding Out on a Starcraft Movie/TV Show Unless Cameron Directs It?

Blizzard, oh Blizzard I have a love-hate relationship with you. If you were on Facebook, it’d be it’s complicatedbetween us. To seduce me, you make great games such as Diablo, Warcraft and the original Starcraft. Then you progress quite nicely into the comfort phase with Warcraft III and then you go insane and start marketing World of Warcraft and pretty much stop making those games that I loved.
Then you make Starcraft II and suddenly the world is a slightly better place.


But now, you’re thinking about making a movie on Starcraft? That too with fluorescent Protoss bashing up colorful Terrans with gooey Zergs involved? Calm down! I must confess that Avatar was not exactly the greatest movie I have seen. Prettiest, possibly but not the greatest. So you do realize that many of us have inhibitions with James Cameron directing a project on Starcraft.

That’s what Rob Pardo, EVP of Game Design at Blizzard was talking about to MTV Multiplayer:-

We’ve always had an interest in seeing our stuff on film or TV. It’s just tricky to find the right partners. We probably could have made a [‘StarCraft’] movie or something on TV years and years ago, but it’s really important to us that we find creative people that are really talented but also really excited about our properties. That’s always been the challenge for us. I think if Jim Cameron came to us tomorrow and said, ‘You want to make a ‘StarCraft’ movie?’ we’d probably sign that.


Not that I would not completely mind, but movies based on games are not exactly the best things around. They can be made into fun, but not entirely memorable flicks but they eventually end up being horrible, messy and quite disgusting affairs.

Let’s hope that if you do authorize a movie or TV show on Starcraft, it’s directed by Joss Whedon or someone.

Microsoft Bing Offers “integrated search and mapping” for Android. Is Awkward.

Well, well, well, isn’t this awkward? Microsoft Bing Community has launched an app for Android users under Verizon that offers integrated search and mappingfor all the Android users that lack this super-special and super-rare service that Google’s phones seem to lack (at least for the folks at Bing, we are assuming).


It also has voice-search capabilities which are hard to find on the Google phones.

Evidently, they are trying their luck at this gapin the market. No puns intended.

Acclaim is Killed Off by Disney and Playdom.

It’s a sad week for me. People don’t care about ATi’s death, while I do (my old card will forever remain ATi Radeon and not just a Radeon). Now, people do not care about Acclaim Entertainment’s dishonorable death at the hands of Disney, while I do. Over my young years, I have played many games developed by Acclaim such as Turok, Burnout, Dragonheart: Fire and Steel (okay, I played it just because I loved the movie) and the inimitable Re-volt.


Sure, it pretty much stopped producing games after 2004, but it was bought off by Playdom and reinvented as Acclaim Games, using the brand’s name and logo to fuel their private online gaming enterprise. While they did not accomplish what the parent company did at one point in its life, they managed to keep it afloat for six years. Now, however, with Playdom being bought by Disney, Acclaim has finally shut down for good.

On their official website, nothing but a stark wall of text greets users saying that the service has been shut down from the 26th of August, 2010 and some other announcements – mostly about Acclaim Coins being refunded and some marketing gimmicks for Playdom’s games.

So long, Acclaim, it was good knowing and playing your games.

New TellTale Game with the Heavy in Tow?

TellTale games are renowned for their episodic and funny games. By funny I mean can’t-stop-guffawing-jaws-bleedingkind of funny. They have released gems such as the Sam & Max series as well as Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. So what happens when they release a cryptic-message filled video that teases at a new game in the making?


As you can see from the image above, it seems that the new game will have Tycho from the Penny Arcade Adventures series, Max from Sam & Max, the Heavy from Team Fortress 2 and Strong Bad from Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People.

These guys, in order:-





While Tycho, Max and Strong Bad are TellTale Games’ staples, the inclusion of the Heavy from Valve’s team based shooter Team Fortress 2 adds to the general confusion around the gaming world. What could this Really Strange But Probably Hilarious Game be?

Here’s the trailer to the new game:-

Trapped in a Mine for Weeks? Here’s a PSP for You!

A mine in Chile collapsed about two weeks ago with 33 miners stuck with rescue some weeks away as the escape shaft is being built. Food and toiletries are being given to the men trapped inside via smaller shafts but how else could you alleviate the loneliness, claustrophobia and general boredom?


How about a PSP? Gaming blog Kotaku reports that along with the supplies, the miners are being given Sony’s PlayStation Portable gaming devices on cups to pass the time. Although the battery conks out in six hours, it’s the overall feeling of goodness that comes with gaming that counts!


Perhaps they will be funneling standby batteries or power cables next?

Supermassive Collage of Internet Favicons is Massively Awesome

Internet security site released this amazing collage of favicons (the little icons that appear in the URL bar of your web-browser) in one huge image. What they basically did was that they scoured the entire interwebs, picking up the top sites and their relevant favicons and putting it all together in one huge site. In their own words:-

A large-scale scan of the top million web sites (per Alexa traffic data) was performed in early 2010 using the Nmap Security Scanner and its scripting engine. As seen in the New York Times, Slashdot,Gizmodo, Engadget, and

We retrieved each site’s icon by first parsing the HTML for a link tag and then falling back to /favicon.ico if that failed. 328,427 unique icons were collected, of which 288,945 were proper images. The remaining 39,482 were error strings and other non-image files. Our original goal was just to improve our http-favicon.nse script, but we had enough fun browsing so many icons that we used them to create the visualization below.


And whad’ya know? Techie-Buzz is in this image too!


Pretty sweet eh? Thanks to urlesque.

Live-Composed Music Album on a Single Microchip!

1-Bit Symphony is exactly what the title of this post says. It comes on a CD jewel case and is very, very minimalist.


No it’s not a CD. It’s a microchip that’s embedded on a CD-sized jewel case. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack that sits at the edge of the case. All you need to do is plug in your headphones, turn on the recordingand listen!

It’s not so much as a recording as a pre-programmed algorithm embedded in the chip that presents the music liveto your ears. Chiptunes at their finest. Tristan Perich’s experimental gadget/music-player is something that can only be experienced. Pre-order it from Cantaloupe Music for $29!

Video of the gadget follows:-

Tristan Perich: 1-Bit Symphony (Part 1: Overview) from Tristan Perich on Vimeo.

Online Multiplayer Neverwinter Game in 2011?

It took me a while to recover from the nerdgasm, but Atari has announced a spanking new online multiplayer game (not Massively Multiplayer) based on one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons settings Neverwinter. Set for a Q4 2011 release, the game titled Neverwinter will be an online experience of 5 players in co-op (or one player plus four AI companions) set in a campaign whose story will be written by the renowned fantasy author R.A. Salvatore.


Developed by Cryptic Studios (the same people who worked on Star Trek Online), the game will be released with pen-and-paper campaigns and an entire story series that will also be penned by Salvatore. However, don’t get those custom character sheets prepped yet for you will be limited to one of the five classes (Fighter, Rogue, Ranger, Wizard and Cleric, according to Gamespot). While much of the intricacies of the game-mechanics have not been made public yet, some info has been revealed about the custom game making toolkit named Forge. If all goes well, this will see some great mods akin to that which came along with the original Neverwinter Nights developed by Bioware.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see good ol’ RPGs make a comeback. Hopefully this game will deliver, and deliver well!

Download Fennec Alpha for Android 2.0+ (and N900)

Finally, after quite a long time, Firefox’s mobile version Fennec is available for download for phones running the Android OS version 2.0 or higher and the Nokia N900 Maemo phone. Fennec is still in its Alpha stage and is far from rock-solid and stable. Development is slow, but it promises to deliver seamless web experience between your desktop and mobile. It includes the Firefox Sync addon and increased performance due to two major technologies that were implemented in the current iteration called Electrolysisand Layers.


Electrolysis is a technology that allows the Fennec interface to run as a separate process from the web renderer, improving stability and increasing usability. Fennec can thus react faster to user input instead of being bogged down by a large page that is being downloaded. The Beta version of Fennec will start taking advantage of Layers to greatly improve performance in graphic intensive actions like scrolling, zooming, animations and video.

You can download Fennec from the Mozilla site. Don’t forget to read the release notes. Do remember that this is an Alpha build and might not be stable or fast. Fennec Alpha currently runs on Android 2.0 or higher, or the Nokia N900.