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

Diablo III Release Date Pushed to “Early 2012”

I cannot decide if this is good news or bad news. The good news part is wholly selfish, because I have tons of work throughout the rest of the year. The bad news part is that the Mayan apocalypse might occur and we will all die before Diablo III releases. Sad smile

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There is as yet no word on exactly why the release date was pushed to early 2012. Maybe the closed beta that is proceeding right now may have turned up some issues that need ironing out and the employees want to chill during Christmas before sorting it out. There may be family feuds that have to be settled in closed beta PvP (Player vs. Player) matches. Blizzard might be building another secret cow level. Who knows? The fact is that while many fans might be disheartened by this, it is only fair that the game gets a beautiful bug-free release after years of development, as Blizzard’s President Mike Morhaime says-

With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn’t put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready. The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we’re taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players. Next year is going to be an incredibly busy one for Blizzard, and we hope an incredibly fun one for Blizzard gamers.

So… neutral news. But it does give you time enough to exercise those finger muscles and prepare them for the torture of the Mouse Click.

Square Enix Announces Several Classic jRPGs for iOS and Android

By several classic jRPGsI actually mean Chrono Trigger, which is worth more than a cartload of its kin, even though there are quite a few other amazing retro Japanese RPGs (jRPGs) that are being released by Square Enix for Apple’s and Google’s mobile platforms. Showing off their upcoming games’ slide at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Square Enix showed off Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Legends, Itadaki Street and Dragon Quest Monsters that will be available on their app marketplace for Android, with the imaginative and interesting name of Square Enix Marketplace. While there is the very correct concern over why a new marketplace app is needed when the Android Marketplace works well enough, they are secondary to the fact that Square Enix is releasing Chrono Trigger and a free download of a marketplace app is forgiven when the prize is so brilliant. (A similar kind of logic is applied to the Amazon Marketplace app by me and several others one downloads it to get the free app of the day every day)

chronotrigger-sfc

Square Enix also announced three brand new games developed for the mobile platforms Chaos Rings 2, Diffusion Million Arthur and Demon’s Score. The company also showed Final Fantasy 1, 2 and Crystal Defenders for the Android Marketplace in a sizzle reel. This is shaping up to be a pretty good year for mobile RPG lovers!

LOIC Alternative RefRef Ready In Time for #OccupyWallStreet

We have all heard about the Low Orbit Ion Cannon a deceptively powerful, yet quite simple tool for bombarding a server with meaningless data until all its resources are used to answer the bombarding queries instead of serving pages, commonly known as a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. Now, Anonymous has developed its own DoS tool, calling it RefRef.

800px-Anonymous_at_Scientology_in_Los_Angeles

RefRef was developed to assist the setup of #OccupyWallStreet, that will begin September 17, at noon at the famous financial district of New York City. Peaceful protesters will set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy the entire district for a few months.

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.

(This one simple demand is still under vote, with Revoke Corporate Personhoodleading)

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The expected number of campers is around 20,000. However, considering a similar protest that was done earlier at the same venue where protesters were spurned away by the police, only tomorrow will tell us what the real number of protesters there will be.

RefRef will be released at noon on September 17th along with the start of #OccupyWallStreet.

Digital Swapping Comes to the Biggest Digital Distributor Near You

I was about to write bestdigital distributor, but I remembered GOG.com and relegated Steam to biggest. It certainly is one of the better modern game digital distributors, of course, what with Valve games being there and nowhere else.

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So, getting back to the topic, Steam has uncorked the finely beta-aged wine of Steam Trading and allowed all Steam users access to its digital trading feature. Steam Trading is, very simply, a digital trading service built atop the Steam client that allows users to trade Team Fortress 2, Spiral Knights and Steam Gifts with one another. Valve have also said that trading of items from Portal 2 will soon be open. Steam Gifts can be traded for other games or TF2 and Spiral Knights items as long as you have not opened the gift:-

Any game you’ve purchased from the store as a gift, or received as an Extra Copy, can be traded to other users. They can be used to trade for other Gifts, or for items in Team Fortress 2 or Spiral Knights

This is quite a lovely step up by Steam and is a boon for many online game trading forums that relied on trust instead of a portal like this for their trading. Of course, you could also stock up a sizable collection of hats from Team Fortress 2 , but that is completely up to you.

Bethesda Softworks Sues Mojang Specifications Over “Scrolls”

Scrolls is an upcoming fantasy game from Mojang Specifications whose owner is Markus Minecraft NotchPersson. It is a strategy-action game where you use magical scrolls to fight and on the outset is similar to the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering and its derivatives. The Elder Scrolls is a series of fantasy Role Playing Games (RPG) from Bethesda Softworks. Now that we have the required data, let us get down to business.

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On the fifth of August, Notch received a fifteen page letter from a Swedish law firm that represented Bethesda claiming that Scrolls infringes on the trademark of The Elder Scrolls. Considering that Bethesda’s games have little to do with scrolls (the last game had demonic gates sprouting up everywhere and your job was to destroy them, more or less) this came as quite a shock to gamers as well as Notch. However, he took it with a pinch of salt:-

First of all, I love Bethesda. I assume this nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers, and a result of trademark law being the way it is.

IGN has contacted Bethesda reps for more on this issue from their side, but there has not been a comment from their side yet.

For now, however, the internet has already come up with ways to trivialize the issue, like the advance copy of Skyrim that apparently does not work on the drive (hint: it’s a real scroll) or who Bethesda will be suing next.

Heroes of Newerth goes Free to Play

The popular multiplayer RPG/Strategy hybrid Heroes of Newerth has officially gone Free to Play (F2P) as of today with a decent enough plan to keep previously paying players and green newbies both happy with it. With a three-tiered user program and additional heroes to be featured on the game, Heroes of Newerth looks to take on existing F2P games such as League of Legends and the phenomenal Defense of the Ancients (DotA) with its own brand.

heroesofnewerth

With an art aesthetic that looks very similar to Warcraft III‘s style, the game is not very different from the custom scenario, DotA, made for Warcraft. However, many enthusiasts readily paid for the game as it was easy to pick up and (at least initially) did not have experienced players that took apart newbies. To keep new players streaming in to the F2P Heroes to Newerth, the developers have added three tiers of user levels to aid them in learning the game. As soon as you sign up, you get a Basic package which allows you to play with other Basic package players. After accruing some experience, you get to be a Verified user. Verified users get some extra features over the Basic players. The old paying customers will be upgraded to the Legacy account which has some minor advantages over the Verified user base (such as gaining new heroes a little earlier than the release) but nothing that would otherwise ruin the game.

It seems with games such as League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth becoming F2P the upcoming Defense of the Ancients 2 from Valve will have to be F2P in order to attract the large user base of DotA. It will be interesting to see where this takes the industry.

Dragon Age II Removed from Steam

A more charming title would have been Dragon Age II Fades Away from Steambut not many readers might get the reference. Nevertheless, the title rings out true. The game has been removed from Valve’s digital distribution platform Steam. This comes on the eve of the launch of the new downloadable content (DLC) Legacyfor the troubled role playing game.

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I say troubled, because it had tremendously huge shoes to fill. The shoes being Dragon Age: Orgins‘. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the game more than the original and its expansion pack Awakening, partly because of how Mass Effect-y the second game felt and the more streamlined quests. It did have a lot of bugs, some tawdry continuity issues and the same I never meant to say thatmoments in the dialogue circles.

On this matter, Electronic Arts’ SVP of Global E-Commerce said:

At EA, we offer our games and content to all major download services including GameStop, Amazon, Direct2Drive and Steam,

Unfortunately, Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to sell downloadable content. No other download service has adopted this practice. Consequently some of our games have been removed by Steam.

We hope to work out an agreement to keep our games on Steam.

So it seems that Valve had some trouble with the DLC being downloaded on the game’s own launcher, or EA could not sort out licensing and payment terms for the game on Steam. Either way, it is sorry to see two large companies bickering about this. I hope more games are not taken down from Steam on the pretext of T&C violation and put on EA’s Origin.

The Humble Indie Bundle is Back Again With Five Great Games!

The Humble Indie Bundle is a darling of the internet community. As usual, it is a sale of five great indie video games at the low (or high!) price of pay-whatever-you-want! The success story of the past two (and a special FrozenByte) bundle is quite well known and is worthy of the Internet Hall of Fame (if there is something of that sort).

humble indie bundle

The games on offer this time are as varied as before:-

humble bundle

Cogs: A puzzle game in which time and inventiveness are key! Build contraptions from sliding tiles to solve a level.

Crayon Physics Deluxe: Another puzzle game in which you literally draw your keys to complete each level using virtual crayons. Innovative to the core, the game also boasts of a splendid Newtonian physics simulation system.

VVVVVV: A retro 2D platformer that will elicit shrieks of rage from you as its wickedly twisted levels take your patience apart. It’s incredibly addictive and extremely punishing. A must play.

Hammerfight: A steampunk helicopter fighting game. Exactly that.

And Yet It Moves: A beautifully simple platfomer in a world full of ripped paper, this game has gained a lot of acclaim for being a joy to play.

So how much will you pay for these games that you will get DRM-free for Windows, Mac and Linux? Support indie games, readers! You can also donate the money to charity if you wish so. Buy it now!

#OpPayPal is the New Hacktivist Operation from LulzSec and Anonymous

I think I should start this post by stating that there is a blurred distinction between Anonymous and LulzSec in the shady realms of the internet. Even in the face of this harsh reality, I have general contempt for the immature and mischevious LulzSec while I am not apathetic to Anonymous who are generally a more mature lot.

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Considering the little amount of mayhem that LulzSec caused and the disproportionately high amount of chest thumping they gave themselves, they always seem to be on the threshold of quitting. Their latest communiqué comes at the heels of Anonymous’ #OpPayPal (the hashtag on Twitter for operation PayPal) a worldwide boycott of PayPal because they are still not allowing donations to Wikileaks and threatens PayPal with cracking into their vaults (emphasis added):-

The hateful fiends at PayPal have unleashed FBI sea dogs to hunt down some of the more beloved members of our battlefleet. That is why we have decided to raise anchor and leave harbour for one final journey on the seven proxseas. We’ve set our LulzCannon’s sights on the smarmy pirates of PayPal and will take no prisoners. They have not kept their most important booty safe. We find this very troubling, as it is not even their booty! Take this as a warning from your friendly LulzBoat captain. Wise little LulzLizards should withdraw their funds from PayPal before we do.

The LulzSec twitter account is also buzzing with a lot of anti-PayPal propaganda and suggesting a lot of alternatives for the service. We are not great fans of PayPal ourselves, but at least we do not break into the accounts of customers and steal their hard-earned money. It seems LulzSec is threatening to do exactly that.

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Are you listening PayPal? Even if it is an empty threat, you should secure your network just to be safe.

Mount & Blade Mod Under Investigation for Showing Controversial Violence

I am a huge fan of Mount & Blade. By huge, I mean I have spent over a hundred hours of playing it in the few days of owning the game. By that I mean I have missed out on quite a few social callings just to seize a large town in a siege that lasted an hour or so of real life time. The game is most excellent. I have not even started on the plentiful mods that this game has mostly due to the developers making sure that the game has free modding access.

glasgow

So when I hear a news story that starts with A CULT game has been hacked…to show a historical event whose wounds have still not healed and that a police investigation is underway, you cannot imagine my indignation. Gangs of Glasgow is a faithless recreation (dare I use that phrase?) of 1980s Glasgow. The city is rife with football riots within the Old Firm and hoarse cries from beer-drenched throats. The purpose of the mod is entirely comedic as it says in its summarizing paragraph:-

Gangs of Glasgow is a continuing series of mods for Mount and Blade, which transplant the game to the modern-day city of Glasgow, Scotland, where medieval massed melee combat is still widely practised. The mods are mostly comedic in nature, but deal with serious real-life social issues such as knife-crime, drug abuse, and sectarianism, usually in a ridiculous and/or offensive way. These mods are recommended for Adults Only due to some of the content and language used.

It is definitely meant to be taken with a pinch of comedic salt, but the Hampden park riot of 1980 is still fresh in the minds of some folks in Glasgow. It seems both Celtics and Rangers have condemned the mod.

Quite sad.

Chantelise Release Date and Demo Out!

Remember Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale? Yes, the cheeky Japanese RPG (Role Playing Game) parody/example indie game that has   you playing as the proprietor of a JRPG item shop. Straight out of the same westernization workshop, Carpe Fulgur, comes yet another localization and updated Japanese title Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters. They have a demo out and it’s quite a charm if I say so myself.

chantelise

Do not be deceived by the similarity and portmanteau naming scheme of the two games. While it is true that Chantelise, just like Recettear, will also sport two main characters Chante and Elise, the games are quite different. Chantelise will be a 3D action RPG, while Recettear was an isometric hack n’ slash game in some parts, and a lesson in item shop commerce in others.

chantelisescreen

Of course, I do not use localizationlightly. The folks over at Carpe Fulgur have diligently worked to recreate the comic punch lines (or created entirely new ones from scratch, such as Capitalism, ho!which has achieved memetic fame) and story weaving that sounds right in the English script.

I cannot wait to play this beautiful action RPG that was originally released in Japan way back in 2006. That is, it was released five years ago. Wrap your heads around that concept: 2006 was five years ago.

Damn.

Couple in China Sell Their Kids to Pay for Online Gaming

Right after justifying my playing of video games to a bunch of folks today, I return to find this horrible piece of news on the Internet. Granted, it is not a general classifier for the normal online video gamer, however it is still disgusting and might elicit responses such as where has humanity fallen?!from you, my dear reader.

chine gaming

According to Sanxiang City News the couple (who are both under 21 years of age) had sold off their three children to fund their video game obsession. The young couple bonded over their love of internet games in 2007. They had their first child, a son, in 2008 and then their next in 2009 who was a daughter. They apparently came up with an ideato sell their daughter for an equivalent of   less than US$500. Li Lin and Li Juan then sold their first child for about US$4,600.

To further fill up their coffers to pay for their obsession, they conceived another child and sold him off for the same US$4,600.

They were finally turned over to the authorities when Li Lin’s mother found out what her son and his wife were up to. It’s admittedly quite tragic and thoroughly disgraceful. The young parents should have been taught about parenting responsibilities instead of responsibilities to an online guild.

Scaled Down Middle-Earth in Minecraft

Considering the percentage of my posts devoted to Minecraft, I think it would be safe to make an entire subdomain for the game on this blog. The game requires hardly an introduction these days, but Electronic Legosuffices for now. The yet-to-be-released (yes it’s still in beta) indie masterpiece has had everything from a 1:1 model of the USS Enterprise to a 96-pixel working television inside the game. header Now the good folks at Minecraft Middle Earth have been busily creating the entire world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings within the environs of Minecraft. They have also done this without using any plugin or third-party creation tools. That’s right, this entire project was done by a bunch of people using their mice to mine away and place each block individually. As a reference they used a very accurate ~80MB atlas of Tolkien’s world (available here). It is unbelievably gorgeous and I do not know exactly where to being describing the sheer beauty of the entire server. You can also help out with the creation of the world (it is an ongoing project) by joining them. Now for the clincher their forty-five minute walkthrough of the entire world that is just beginning to reach its limits.

DotA 2 System Specifications Revealed

DotA (short for Defence of the Ancients) is a custom scenario (a programmed map) for the brilliant strategy game of yesteryear called Warcraft III. In essence DotA is an elaborate strategy game (with some elements of role playing) with many layers of complexity added on to it. The wiki description is quite adequate at this point:-

Defense of the Ancients pits two teams of players against each other: the Sentinel and the Scourge. Players on the Sentinel team are based at the southwest corner of the map, and those on the Scourge team are based at the northeast corner. Each base is defended by towers and waves of units which guard the main paths leading to their base. In the center of each base is the “Ancient”, a building that must be destroyed to win the game.

DotA All Stars is the most widely known map based off this concept, and has become a staple in many gaming competitions across the world.

DotA2

It has been under development for quite a while now under a programmer who is known to the internet simply as IceFrog (he/she maintains his/her public anonymity). In 2010 we were overjoyed to hear that Valve has taken up IceFrog to create a sequel’ to DotA. I put sequel within quotes because from what is public knowledge until now, it seems that the original map of DotA All Stars and its roster of 100+ heroes will be copied and pasted onto DotA 2, which will run on Valve’s Source engine.

Not only does this mean that the game will look prettier freed from Warcraft III‘s ageing engine but it will also feature support for the Steamworks API and will have moderately achievable system requirements:-

DotA 2 Minimum System Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows ® 7 / Vista / Vista64 / XP
  • Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB for XP / 2GB for Vista
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible video card with 128 MB, Shader model 2.0. ATI X800, NVidia 6600 or better
  • Hard Drive: At least 2.5 GB of free space
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

DotA 2 Recommended System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows ® 7 / Vista / Vista64 / XP
  • Processor: Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB for XP / 2GB for Vista
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible video card with Shader model 3.0. NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better
  • Hard Drive: At least 2.5 GB of free space
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

In other words if you can play Alien Swarm a free multiplayer game from Valve you can play DotA 2.

I cannot wait.

LulzSec Returns, Aims Its Cannons at Rupert Murdoch

The phone hacking scandal that started at the now-defunct British tabloid News of the World, has shaken up Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corporation. Newspapers across the world are hungrily tearing at News Corp and its subsidiaries, because they engaged in illegal and obstructive activities to create the tabloid-worthy news. Can the righteous anger of the Internet be far behind?

Apparently the scandal was enough for our favorite privateers, the LulzSec, to stage a return.

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They changed a Times redesign page to look like The Sun with the main story being that of Rupert Murdoch’s death by palladium ingestion. (The site has now been taken down)

Rupert Murdoch, the controversial media mogul, has reportedly been found dead in his garden, police announce.
Murdoch, aged 80, has said to have ingested a large quantity of palladium before stumbling into his famous topiary garden late last night, passing out in the early hours of the morning.
“We found the chemicals sitting beside a kitchen table, recently cooked,” one officer states. “From what we can gather, Murdoch melted and consumed large quantities of it before exiting into his garden.”

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To further their claims, LulzSec redirected The Sun‘s .co.uk domain to their Twitter feed. (This has also been shut down, as the domain does not work now.)

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How wonderful that these jolly rogers have come back! Rum and grog everywhere…NOT! It seems to me that these hackershave found yet another easy exploit to these newspaper websites, considering that they do not expect much of a security threat. Down the road I see yet another email grabbing mission from LulzSec and a general annoyance for News Corporation.   If there was anything at all that points towards LulzSec’s immature nature, it is this returnto fight injustice.