Clone Wars Adventures in Open Beta

Yes, we have all heard about how George Lucas ruined Star Wars because he was obsessed with the toy industry’s revenue. But the cutesy TV series that renewed interest in the franchise (for audiovisual consumers) after a magnanimous ending with the Revenge of the Sith is turning out to be Lucas’ cash cow. Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a very well done TV show supplemented with some not-so-well-done video games to pull Younglings into the path of the Force and its mysteries.


It seems that after quite a terrible video game release with lackluster controls and wonky plotlines, LucasArts is aiming big with a kid-safe MMO. Clone Wars Adventures is a free-to-play web-based MMO based on the microtransaction business model. Players can play as a Jedi, Clone Trooper or a Padawan (?!) and battle it out with the heroes of the Clone Wars such as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda.

Apparently, you can [S]peed through space in Star Fighter, take out waves of Battle Droids in Tower Defense or test your brain with Droid Programming puzzlesin this game. If you wish to test this out you can sign up for beta and give it a go.


As for me, though, I cannot stand an epic movie franchise being diluted down for kids. Sure, it’s family entertainment but long time fans need the depth and emotionally charged content of the first two movies instead of Ewok celebrations and stupid lake monsters with horrible grammar.

Game Companies Unite to Help Displaced RTW Employees

Remember All Points Bulletin? Yes that MMO that had you play as either brutal Enforcers or, um, brutaler Criminals? That MMO that was really, really bad? That MMO RealTime Worlds spent $100,000,000 making? Yes, you read that right. A hundred million dollars on a game that was complete hogwash. It sold less than 10,000 units apparently, and is thus one huge and massive failure when it comes to Massively Multiplayer Online Games.


The reason the game tanked was because you had to buy the game and then subscribe to it not because the driving controls were screwy or the game lagged and looked horrible even on a high end computer. People wanted to give the game a chance but in this era of microtransactions, that is not a sustainable business model.

Thus Real Time Worlds had to cut seventy five percent of its staff. That’s 157 people jobless after working on a massive AAA title and dreaming about achieving something that only the likes of Everquest and World of Warcraft have managed to achieve.

As an alleged ex-RTW employee says in a caustic comment on Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s article

The sheer time spent and money it took to make APB is really a product of fairly directionless creative leadership. Certainly Dave J has great, strong, ambitious ideas for his games. But he’s a big believer in letting the details emerge along the way, rather than being planned out beyond even a rudimentary form. For most of the lifetime of APB, he was also CEO of the whole company, as well as Creative Director. His full attention was not there until it late in the day. This has ramifications for how long his projects run many years, on average and the associated cost. This, in turn, means that the business model options were constrained, conspiring to place APB in a really difficult position, commercially. Ultimately, it’s this pairing of a subscription model cost with free to play game play that really did for the game. And many of us saw it coming a mile off. I must admit I’m dismayed about the scale of the failure, however. Many of us thought APB might do OK at retail and sell a few hundred thousand, though struggle on ongoing revenue, and gradually carve a niche. But it absolutely tanked at retail I believe (though I’m not privvy to figures) I think due to the critical mauling it received. It never made the top 20 of the all format UK chart. It’s scraping along the bottom of the PC-only chart, a situation I’m assuming is replicated in its major markets. And being at the bottom of the PC-only chart is not where you want to be as a AAA budget game. God knows what the budget was, but when you account for the 150-odd staff and all the launch hardware and support, it was in the tens of millions of dollars.

However, the gaming industry is quick to respond to capture this massive pool of unused talent. As Joystiq reports, Codemasters alone is looking for quite a lot of employees to fill its UK studio. The Creative Assembly and Activision are also looking for new talent in Europe. With a huge amount of gaming jobs going redundant these days, it’s good to see some heartening news come out of all this mess.

As one commenter says Every once in awhile, humanity doesn’t disappoint me. This is good news.

Halo Reach: Pirated Before Release

Poor, poor Microsoft. It seems that their line of Halo shooters is jinxed when it comes to pre-release piracy. Halo 2 was leaked, and so was Halo 3, with Microsoft issuing a 7,992 year ban on Xbox Live users who were caught playing the leaked version. Now, it’s Halo: Reach’s turn.


Though scheduled to be released on the 14th of September, this year, Halo: Reach wormed its way into the Xbox marketplace with a price-tag of a 9,999 Microsoft Points (or the princely sum of $1,250). Apparently this was the review distributable that could be unlocked by redeeming a special code in the marketplace.

And the hackers over at managed to get a ton of codes for their members.

The direct quote from the staff of GameTuts goes:-

As some of you guys know, Joakim posted a thread regarding ” I have reach ” and showed a few screenshots.
The thread, words, and work is all true.
The legend series of ‘Halo’ was ending with a bang, a bang of that will leave the re-playability high, keeping Firefight blazing.
We now pronounce this to you. The team of Game-Tuts have acquired Reach. This isn’t just a bunch of files thrown together and slapped into the JTAG External Memory.
Think of it this way, “Xport”, only if we can manage it correctly since a PIRS file of 6.87gb is a “god package” – quote from Cthulhu.
We are still working on this and more information is to come. The only thing I can say is that retails might have the ability to play Reach on the files information. PIRS files are signed by Microsoft and given the ability to be played on a retail.
The game “Halo : Reach”, as if all goes well, will be shown on a LIVE stream[Offline] via our channels, I believe we will have more than 1 stream. Expect a full blown amazement of a glorious game that we all have been waiting for in 2010.

So… any takers for this pretty petite pirated program?

New Phishing Attacks on Indian Bank Customers

A major phishing attack has been launched against Indian banking customers by the administrator of a hitherto unknown organization called the Indian Bank Association (IBA). The administratorof this organization has sent out a warningagainst money laundering and its evil and in pretty strong language, urges you to update your records on your bank. The administrator has also kindly given you links to all the major Indian banks’ websites.
Very neat, isn’t it?


As you can see from this screenshot, none of the Web of Trust icons are colored in the friendly safegreen color. The grayed out circle with a question mark indicates that the link is an unknown site that has not been marked down or up by the community. Which probably means that they are recent sites. In the context of a banking site, that means unsafe.


Clicking on any of the links in that email sends you to a page of a domain named’.


ICICI bank’s original page has a high rating in WOT.


Something is very phishy about this. Ignore and mark as spam any email you get from admin [at] iba [dot] com.

[Thanks to Sathya ]

QuakeCon Sale on Steam!

It’s QuakeCon time! Yes, that conference that claims to be the Woodstock of gaming (4 days of Peace, Love and Rockets) is one of the largest gaming parties in the world and is run almost entirely by volunteers. It is gaming in its pure, unadulterated-by-nonsensical-business self. QuakeCon’s principal partner, Id Software (the developers of Doom and, of course, Quake) provides support for what is possibly the largest LAN Party on the planet.


However, the business part of the gaming industry will take good care of its sales while this party rages on. Valve’s Steam digital distribution portal has racked up a bunch of Id and Bethesda games in its QuakeCon Steam Sale that any respectable fan of action games absolutely needs to check.


Here’s a short listing of all the games up for grabs in the QuakeCon Pack that is selling for just $69.99!

image Call of Cthulhu ®: Dark Corners of the Earth

image Commander Keen

image DOOM Complete Pack

image Fallout 3: GOTY

image The Heretic + HeXen Collection

image QUAKE Collection

image Wolf Pack

image Rogue Warrior

image The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion GOTY

image The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY

I hope you lot have a blast after buying these awesome games! Buy the QuakeCon Pack at Steam!

Play Snake on any YouTube Video

I did not believe it when I first heard of it either. The MIND = BLOWNpart is usually thrown in for suckers by trolls. Well, this time it was not a troll, and the easter egg was for real.

As neoconnor1111 says in his video‘s description, YouTube has a wierd [sic] secret. If you press and hold the left arrow key while playing a YouTube video, a small overlay pops up. What is this overlay? A game of Snake. It seems Google does like its retro gaming a lot.


This works on any video (obviously), and the best part is that you can keep playing the game while the video is being buffered (and played) in the background.

I believe this is where Buffering Boredom has met its match.

Alien Swarm Mini Review

Why I term this a mini review is because I have not played this game online. Considering the fact that this is mostly an online-only co-op game, I have not played much. Nevertheless, the little bit of Alien Swarm that I have played shows that this game is pretty much one of the most generous gifts by Valve to the modding community at large. It’s also a pretty cool free game. Completely, utterly free.


What’s that? Access to a modding community, did you say?
Yes, sir. Alien Swarm is a decent game on its own right, but the included Source SDK as well as a level editor pretty much makes this game infinite. It also allows anyone to dive into some of the best games and mods available these days. I’d personally recommend FLIPSIDE and Weekday Warrior for anyone looking for a different gaming experience. Note: Mods that rely on existing content of Source-based games such as Half Life 2 or Team Fortress 2 will, of course, remain unavailable to those who only have Alien Swarm.

That’s all very good but how good is the game? Get on with the review man!
Oh yes, the game is very good. Pretty good in fact. Considering that this was originally an Unreal Tournament mod, the game has turned out to be something that we can waste lazy afternoons with!
The basic premise has you being in control of one of four classes of soldiers:-


The Officer with passive boosting aurasand access to the class-restricted shotgun.
The Special Weapons soldier dealing massive amounts of damage with autoguns.
The Medic the game’s healer who is invaluable when fighting Parasites and other aliens in general.
The Tech who has access to special weapons as well as the person who can open locked doors with a mini game. (I can imagine how flustering the experience would be when playing under hard mode!)


The game features quite a lot of weapons most of which I sadly have not unlocked. They will be opened in due time with online play and leveling up, I am sure!


The game is quite good to look at, with soft bounced lights, realistic shadows of unrealistic things (see next screenshot) and some great effects. There is talk about how you can play this game in first person and the video does not look bad at all!


In all, this game is pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see some Indian servers go up. Not until they stop playing Counter Strike: Source, of course.

Get Alien Swarm today!

A Look at Frozen Synapse

There are several reasons why I prefer indie games to mainstream video games. Mainstream games (with a few exceptions) prefer the rock-solid foundation of ideas that their fans have always liked and these ideas change slowly over the years. Evolution, if you can call it, happens with mainstream gaming.
Indie games on the other hand, are playgrounds where ideas evolve in a matter of minutes and are put to test in a relatively shorter time. Where mainstream games stagnate, indie games surprise, amuse and entertain you above and beyond what you paid for.


Frozen Synapse is one such game that took me by utter surprise. Developed by Mode 7 Games, an Oxford based indie game studio, this simultaneous-turn-based competitive match-oriented tacticalgame (that’s the official description!) is insanely addictive even in its beta that is playable if you pre-order the game. I shot a few emails to Paul Taylor, Joint MD of Mode 7 Games along with Ian Hardingham regarding the game that I’ve been playing off-and-on for a few months now and I have mostly tried to convey whatever he said in this post.

The genesis of [Frozen Synapse] came from Ian playing a load of Laser Squad Nemesis and thinking about the things that could be improved or brought up-to-date

While Laser Squad Nemesis was a lot of fun to play, the time needed to set up units, clunky UI and other aspects of the game took much of the joy away when you actually wanted to sit down for a few minutes and play. Frozen Synapse, however, is built like the tactical gamer’s Solitaire; fire up the game and you’re almost good to go with a new game set up with random placements of your units. As Taylor says:-

We don’t enjoy spending ages setting up units; all of the fun of those games seemed to come from the situations you’d eventually get into during the middle phase of the game, so we streamlined everything in Frozen Synapse to create that straight away.


The game forces you to use whatever advantages you have to the maximum, and can provide for long hours of play if you are in the mood (and, of course, if there are others willing to play with you as well). Yes, although this game sports a single player mode, it shines in its multiplayer modes. It uses the old Play-By-Email method of engaging players (since it is turn-based) so you can play this game at your own pace. Again, I reiterate, for a game in its beta, Frozen Synapse almost looks like a finished product. When I asked Taylor what should the general strategy behind a pre-order beta, he replied,

If you’re going to do [a pre-order beta], you have to do it right: you have to be geared up to be commercial and attend to your community, while still working on development.   And you have to have a game that is ready to go: the beta has to be fun and it has to look good.

The attend to your communitypart has been done right by Mode 7 Games. Their forums are lively and full of jibes and jokes with the jargon of the game, as well as a couple of calls for a tourney as much as you’d expect from a fully finished game. Also, the developers wanted to enhance the UI and the general setting of the entire game in conjunction with the community for a more streamlined experience.


The game’s retro-futuristic look, great community support and ridiculously funny single player tutorial in combination with instant death, destructible environment and gameplay suited to your time make this an instant hit for me.

If the pictures and words have failed to have an impact on you to buy this great game ($26 for two copies, DRM-free OR $35 for the premium edition featuring 2 copies of the game, one copy of their earlier game Determinance, a music pack and the chance to have your face on their THANK YOU!!11!list!) I certainly hope that this video will change your mind about it. Support indie games, everyone!

E-xpress India to Release PSP Games for Rs. 699

Manna from heaven for PSP gamers! (The legit ones, at least).

Console games, unlike PC games in India, are still priced fairly out of reach of the non-pirate gamer. While many of the current-gen PC games are published in India for ridiculously low prices when compared to their price in the countries of their origin, console games tend to be similarly priced to their cousins abroad. All that is set to change with E-xpress India deciding to publish eighteen PSP games for Rs. 699 under the title PSP Essentials.


The titles are mostly animation movie spin-offs or aimed at kids in general, although there are a few exceptions (Tom Clancy’s EndWar, Tomb Raider Legends and the like). It is a small step, but we are all hoping that more publishers in India aim for the rights to publish better and bigger games in India for gentler prices!

Dragon Age 2 Announced

Epic RPG makers Bioware today announced the epic sequel to the epic RPG game of yesteryear in an epic announcement page today, er… epicly (!)

I guess they got bored of developing Mass Effect 3

Dragon Age II will be taking place across a decade, with each and every one of your choices having consequences far into the future. Though the initial setting is pretty similar to what we have played already, I am pretty sure Bioware has some new tricks up its sleeve that would definitely make this one a huge, if not gigantic, hit.

Morrigan? Please?

The usual marketing snippets follow:-

Embark upon an all-new adventure that takes place across an entire decade and shapes itself around every decision you make.
Determine your rise to power from a destitute refugee to the revered champion of the land.
Think like a general and fight like a Spartan with dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle whether you are a mage, rogue, or warrior.
Go deeper into the world of Dragon Age with an entirely new cinematic experience that grabs hold of you from the beginning and never lets go.
Discover a whole realm rendered in stunning detail with updated graphics and a new visual style.

New visual stylesounds pretty sweet but I don’t think a Borderlands-ish effect is what I want from my RPG. Nevertheless we’ll see how that goes.

A trailer is inbound on the 17th of August. Stay tuned for it!