Mass Effect 3 Preorder “Offer” Ends a Little Too Quickly on Origin

I have a feeling that EA has a ginormous amount of insurance against Origin’s failure. If I take that as a sound basis then all of EA’s moves with respect to their digital distribution platform would start to make sense. Currently, it just makes them look so silly that the phrase “what are they stupid?” becomes redundant and obvious. Remember the (US/Canada only offer, as pointed out by Sathya) Mass Effect 3 preorder offer at Origin? The one that would give away a free copy of Battlefield 3 to all those who preorder the game? Well, it turns out that EA has “run out of the limited copies of Battlefield 3” and will be ending the offer 3 weeks early. They ran out of digital copies.

At least, that is what I suspect, because the deal was on until the 5th of March. It has stopped now and those who had preordered the game will receive the Battlefield 3’s key by March 8th. That is right, they have to wait until Mass Effect 3 is released and then get the key for the existing game. Apparently, EA has done this before – with the Battlefield 3 preorder which came with a free copy of Dead Space 2.

I have no idea who decides these things at the head office of Origin, but it’s certainly not someone with a lot of sense. I mean, there’s not even an apology or a blog post explaining the issue.

Mojang Starts the Humble Mojam Bundle–All Proceeds to Charity!

We all know of the Humble Indie Bundle by this time, I’m sure. It’s a pay-what-you-want bundle of indie games with proceeds going to the developers, charity or the organizers of the bundle – Wolfire. However, this time the developer team behind Minecraft and Scrolls – Mojang Specifications – has put up an entirely new kind of pay what you want sale for a game that will be made over the weekend. That is right, you will be paying (whatever you want) for a game called Mojam that will be made right before your eyes (did I tell you that the making of the game will be livestreamed? Yes it will be). The best part? All proceeds from this sale will go to charity and non-profit organizations.


The indie studio Mojang will be livestreaming all the glory and drama of making a brand new game in 60 hours. Based on a poll of more than 100,000 users, Mojang is tackling a real-time strategy shoot ’em up with a steampunk ancient Egypt theme!

The participating organizations for this one-of-a-kind sale are the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Child’s Play Charity, the American Red Cross and for the first time, Charity: Water. This excellent venture has already received about $97,000 plus at the time of writing. It would be fun to see it go past the 500,000 mark as the game starts taking shape.

Notch Responds to All the Psychonauts 2 Hype

You must have heard all about this on the inter-tubes, or at least here on Techie Buzz. Notch (aka Markus Persson, the developer of Minecraft) tweeted to Tim Shafer saying that he was interested in making Psychonauts 2 happen and seeing this, the internet pretty much exploded. Everyone wanted to see the indie darling dev send some of that ginormous bank balance to DoubleFine Studios and make one of the most beloved yet commercially a failure of a game be revived with a sequel.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet tw-align-center”><p>@<a href=””>TimOfLegend</a> Let’s make Psychonauts 2 happen.</p>&mdash; Markus Persson (@notch) <a href=”″ data-datetime=”2012-02-07T10:59:15+00:00″>February 7, 2012</a></blockquote>
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So in an interview, Double Fine lead Tim Schafer mentioned that they wanted to make Psychonauts 2 happen, but that nobody had been willing to fund it so far. Being a big fan of the first one, and thinking a sequel could probably be profitable, I semi-jokingly tweeted Tim about me funding a sequel.

Now Notch has put up a blog post where he explains that at this time it is all conjecture, and that he would be willing to invest in this only because he feels this would be profitable – not as gaming charity or anything of that sort:-

All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don’t decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would’ve done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment.

This is a sort of preemptive blog post in case stuff does not go as planned. We all know how crazy some kinds of fans get, do we not?

However, I really hope it does work out!

EA Sends Mass Effect 3 To Space–Literally

Electronic Arts, the publisher of the upcoming Bioware game Mass Effect 3, has decided that for its hype machine the sky is not the limit. To increase publicity and to let more people know that this is a sci-fi game set in space, EA will be attaching copies of the game on to weather balloons and sending it high into the stratosphere. They will also be attaching a GPS tracking system inside the weather-proof (hehe) package and will be putting up live coordinates of each package as it descends slowly back to terra firma. If you are in and around the area, you can get to the cache and take your free copy of Mass Effect 3 back home with you!


That’s right, this is also one of the novel ways of tying up the sport of geocaching, publicity stunts and space battles (well not exactly, but it sure is getting there). I honestly think they are wasting money here, but hey I would not mind it if one of those balloons somehow manages to ride an air current and comes to Eastern India and falls squarely on my lap while I am busy reminiscing about Miranda [or Liara, or Samara].

Mass Effect 3 is scheduled for a March 6 release in North America and a March 9 release in Europe and other countries.

Bulgaria and the Netherlands Refuse to Ratify ACTA

The controversial multi-national Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (Read: What is ACTA and How it Will Affect You) is steadily losing ground in the European Union, following key players’ withdrawal from ratifying the agreement. Germany and Poland’s holdback, following a wave of protests in the former and much debate in the latter, has fueled other nations’ misgivings about the vagueness with which the Agreement is written and the fact that there are no clear answers as to how it will ensure anti-counterfeiting and not violation of basic human rights.


The newest withdrawers are Bulgaria – which is waiting for a clearer stance in the entire EU about the Agreement – and the Netherlands, whose parliament refused to ratify the bill. The Dutch parliament is so vehemently against it that they will refuse to budge from their positions until there is irrefutable evidence that the Agreement will not harm basic human rights. This applause-worthy rejection comes with the same message as the open letter by various organizations that have vowed to protect internet freedoms:-

[T]he Commission’s analysis confirms that the current draft of ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy. These are very much at risk, since the current draft pushes for the implementation of three-strikes schemes and content filtering policies by seeking to impose civil and criminal liability on technical intermediaries such as internet service providers. The text would also radically erode the exercise of interoperability that is essential for both consumer rights and competitiveness.

However, is this the end of ACTA? Not really; a majority of Big Producer countries have signed the Agreement – from the US to Japan to South Korea. Europe is the final hurdle in this entire mess and we must hope that they fight the good fight and end this choking Agreement.

[Photo: Stop Acta by Robert Pasini]

Preorder Mass Effect 3 on Origin to Get Battlefield 3 Free! (US or Canada Only)

It seems EA will go to any lengths to make sure that their Origin digital distribution system is widely accepted. Joystiq reported that if you preorder Mass Effect 3 on Origin (that is, only for PC), you will get a free copy of Battlefield 3 right on your Origin game library. Before you pucker up your face and go “ewwwww Orrriiiggiiiiiiiin ewwwwww”, consider this – for the price you get two games – one of which is brand freakin’ new, and the other one which is quite recent.


Origin has been on the receiving end of a lot of bashing from fans of EA games who specifically did not like being forced into yet another digital distribution store. The fact that Origin tracked your computer information, was buggy as hell and that EA had the worst customer support in the entire solar system did not help its case. However, EA’s marketing team is hot in pursuit of its customer’s wallets. They did the same thing with Battlefield 3’s preorder, giving away a copy of Dead Space 2 free with it.

Keep in mind that Mass Effect 3 will need Origin to play even if you buy the box from a brick-and-mortar store. This way, you are not directly contributing to a lot of paper and plastic usage and also get to keep much of your gaming library online. So, will you be preordering Mass Effect 3?

EDIT: This is only for the customers in the USA and Canada. Aw shucks.

The Newest Ace Up In Tor’s Sleeves Helps Thousands of Iranians Access the Free Internet

When Iran blocking country wide access to many commonly used services, it also apparently blocked a large amount of secured traffic movement inside the country. This was done for two effects – to stop Iranians from using SSL technology that may make the Government’s “monitoring” job difficult, and secondly to stop some more tech savvy Iranians from using TOR. TOR, as we know, is a free Internet anonymizing proxy network that works by routing data from the client software to a network of relays and bridges into an exit node somewhere outside the censored country via secured channels. With the blockade of these channels, the usual bunch of 50,000 to 60,000 active TOR connections in Iran plummeted down to 20,000 and eventually to near zero. To counter this, the TOR project’s Jacob Applebaum outlined a new plan that might enable these users to regain access to TOR.


Applebaum, who had also more or less predicted this event a few days back, talked about a “new weapon” that TOR has in the “arms race” that might enable these users from Iran to start using TOR. The technology in operation is the TOR Obfuscated Proxy (obfsproxy) which “camouflages” the traffic entering and exiting the TOR client as being unsecure and thus being usable in a country with a strict censor such as Iran.

The TOR project website has detailed technical instructions on setting up a TOR obfsproxy, which Applebaum admits, is a little rough around the edges. However, nothing is ever useful unless it is applied where it is most needed. This technology is manna from heaven for the Iranian Internet democracy fighters. If you have the technical know-how to apply this technology in your TOR bridge or relay, please do so to help out these people in oppressed regimes!

Counter Strike: Global Offensive–Tentative Concept Art and Map List Leak

Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the newest planned Counter Strike game that aims to completely revamp the series from its somewhat outdated setting and places and bring it back into modern day insurgency and counter insurgency skirmishes in and around the world. Valve is looking to add new factions and weaponry as well as new locations for players to battle out in teams in what was arguably the most played team FPS game before Team Fortress 2 became free to play.

image 1 (CS_Yakuza_Female.png)

Steam Community user 12and4, while poking around with the CS:GO code found a bunch of unusual strings such as this:-

gungame classic gungametrbomb gungameselect gungameprogressive pro competitive casual de_shorttrain de_stmarc de_quarter de_sugarcane de_lighthouse de_safehouse de_generator de_freight de_docks de_depot de_club de_bank de_lake gs_baggage ar_shoots ar_monastery ar_baggage de_vertigo de_balkan de_prodigy de_nuke de_inferno de_dust2 de_dust de_aztec cs_office cs_italy cs_assault

To fans of Counter Strike the map codes of two letters (signifying demolition or counter-strike) followed by a name, quite a few of these names (such as ar_shoots, de_balkan or de_freight) must be new, as are the two-letter codes of ar and gs. In addition, it also has icons for the Xbox 360 controller buttons such as X and Y as well as RB and LB – for tutorial use or something similar, we think.

image 8 (CS_Separatist.png)

In addition, 12and4 also extracted a bunch of images from CS:GO (the matchmaking.dll file) and uploaded all of these to MediaFire. A lot of the images are icons for achievements while a good few are concept images for locations as well as factions. Interestingly, there are concept arts for both male and female soldiers from a faction and a lot of new factions. The new factions included are:-

Pirate (Somalian Pirate, that is, not the Capt. Jack Sparrow variety)
Cultural Revolutionaries

image 58 (map-italy.png)

In the immortal words of [some anonymous GIF file captioner] “Dis gon’ b gud!”

Blizzard Legally Opposes Valve’s Move to Trademark the “DOTA” Name

Well this had to happen, but not in the way it actually did. Blizzard sought to stop Valve from trademarking the “DOTA” name, associated with a custom map for its highly successful Warcraft III franchise that eventually broke off from its parent game and is being developed by Valve as DOTA 2. Blizzard, till now, had no problems with this since Valve was not taking anything that was explicitly its own to use – considering that DOTA was fan-made and fan-enjoyed from start to finish. However, Blizzard does have a problem with Valve trying to trademark the DOTA name.


The gist is that Blizzard never owned or wanted to own the DOTA name. It merely exuded goodwill to its fans and wishes to let the name be open and free for anyone to use. It’s a lot like the name “chess”. If Zynga decided to suddenly trademark the name “Chess” for one of its absurd Facebook games, it would look odd and many people will call foul. That is exactly what Blizzard is doing:-

By attempting to register the mark DOTA Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft 3 computer game and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft 3. Valve has no right to the registration it seeks. If such registration is issued, it not only will damage Blizzard, but also the legions of Blizzard fans that have worked for years with Blizzard and its products, including by causing consumers to falsely believe that Valve’s products are affiliated, sponsored or endorsed by Blizzard and are related or connected to Warcraft 3.

This surprising turn of events also had a tow of die-hard Valve fans calling foul on Blizz because Valve Cannot Do Anything Wrong®

Mass Effect 3 Demo Playthrough Releases To Mass Complaints From Fans Who Have Not Played the Game

The title pretty much sums it up, but the posts here need to have some writing, so I’ll just fill stuff in here. As you all know (or you may not know, so I am telling you now) Mass Effect 3 is the final installment of Bioware’s science fiction action Role Playing Game series set in the far future when the Mass Effect technology is in vogue and humanity as well as its allied races across the galaxy are in danger of being hunted and destroyed by the mysterious Reapers. In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers have set their sights on Earth, the capital planet of the human system. You being the famous Commander Shepard have been called once again to save humanity and restore peace and prosperity to Calradia and bring justice to the Iron Throne bring the reapers to justice.

To increase the hype and hyperbole as well as to make fans of the series generally giddy about the March 6th/9th release of the game, VE3TRO released an exclusive forty minute gameplay trailer of the game. In it, a really indecisive player, walks Shepard through a lot of extremely unimportant areas and shows off the really terrible sprinting animations of Bioware. Also, the forty minute playthrough has some twenty eight minutes of cutscenes (70% of 40), prompting many fans to start polarizing between the “yay story, boo action” and “story sux, action roxxx” camps. However, Bioware has three different ways of playing the game to cater to all kinds of fans of the game – both story lovers and trigger happy soldiers. I hope Bioware knows what it’s doing, otherwise it is going to enrage an entire gaming community. But who am I kidding, I am about as giddy and super excited about this game and really cannot wait for March. Catch the video below.