Star Wars TV series scripted, but cameras not rolling. Yet.

May 31st, 2011

Hey George, don't be jedi mind tricking us about more Star Wars stuff!

We heard last year, or even earlier than that, that there was a ‘made for TV’ live-action Star Wars series in the works. A recent quote from George Lucas himself sparked a media frenzy. Has Lucas already secretly filmed 50 hours of the series and then shelved the project?

George Lucas recently gave the media a big update about the progress of his mysterious live-action Star Wars TV show, which is rumored to be set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. In the interview, with Attack Of The Show, Lucas said:

“We have 50 hours and we’re just waiting to figure out a different way of making movies, a different technology we can use … to make it feasible to shoot the show…When we do figure this problem out it will dramatically affect a lot of movies. Right now it looks like the Star Wars features.”

This quote begat a lot of rumors that Lucas had managed to film 50 hours of live-action Star Wars television. A Lucasfilm PR rep confirmed that Lucas was only talking about 50 hours’ worth of scripts that had been written. Nothing had yet been filmed.

View the full video interview over at G4′s Attack Of The Show.

Posted By BG Crew

Chinese prisoners sentenced to WoW gold farming

May 27th, 2011

We want zee gold, Lebowski! Give us zee gold or we f**ks you up!

(Yahoo) – Rocks by day, gold by night. After a day of grueling physical labor, inmates in Chinese prisons would be forced to engage in 12-hour sessions of online gaming to rack up credits. This was the work cycle for many Chinese prisoners in years past, the Guardian is reporting.

The virtual work environment proved to be a perplexing part of daily life for many inmates. The prison guards invested a lot of time and energy into making sure the prisoners met quotas for faux currencies, which the guards later traded for real world money.

The Guardian told the story of Liu Dali (a pseudonym) who was imprisoned for three years from 2004 to 2007. “If I couldn’t meet my work quota, they would punish me physically,” he said. The trade of gold for cash was widespread in Chinese prisons because of how lucrative it is.

“Gold farming” is the moniker for this business. There are scores of gamers across the globe that would pay real money for game currency just so they could progress in the game. World of Warcraft was one of many games the inmates had to trudge through to accrue certain amounts of online cash.

Gold farming, however, is not relegated to prison inmates. This is a job for some people, and there are gamers who would pay good money for fake money. For Liu Dali and his comrades in shackles, as the Guardian reported, none of their virtual labor translated into profit for them.

This, of course, is not what game makers intended. The practice of gold farming, however, is not an easy thing to regulate. Virtual currency translating into real world profits is a relatively recent thing, and since it does not exist in a physical space, it is very easy to manipulate.

While Liu Dali may no longer be in prison, his fear that this practice still exists could very well be true. Gold farming puts policy makers into an integral position as the forced 12-hour sessions can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing.

Posted By BG Crew

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale – the good, the bad, the button mashing

May 26th, 2011

Since most of us here at BG come from a heavy pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons background this was a title that peaked our interests a few months back. This franchise is well overdue for a revamped series that is accessible in multi and single player scenarios. Atari and Wizards of the Coast seem to know this but can they bring our dice rolling fantasy to our console/PC and do it justice? Lets see…

The Bad
I want to end this on a good note so just let me get the bad stuff out of the way. I’m not going to fill you in on a story background, this is a ‘hack and slash’ game. The story seems sort of back seat to you runnning around looting barrells and killing goblins. We all could expect this from an ‘arcade’ type game. So don’t expect heavy dialogue (just heavy dwarf grunting), and missions like – go kill these guys here, go destroy that mine shaft there, escort this fella over here so he can make you a new shiny sword..etc. Very lack luster, but like I said, I don’t care much about that here, what I wanna know is if it’s fun for me, or worth my time to invest the 1200 microsoft points to satisfy my RPG fix on our occasional sober weekend nights.

Im a stickler on customization of my character, I will spend much too much time making my toon. Like hours if I can’t get it right. Outfitting and gear are a big part of RPGs for me. That was my first big dissappointment here. You get to pick one of four basic D&D Class/Races. Elf rogue, Dwarf cleric, Human warrior, and a Halfling mage (with corn rolls). No hair or face options, just what you see is what you get. They could of given us a few Male/Female options atleast. Big minus for me…

This was suppost to be a transfer of 4th edition rules right? Well at 3rd level I seem to have acquired 145hp (If I remember I should have around 25hp). The weapon damages are all accurate why wouldnt the players HP reflect that also? Maybe too many dots or since it’s not turn based combat they decided to give us a nice cushiony buff. Probably for the better, but still… D&D nerds will notice their numbers not adding up.

Button mashing. The combat is lots of hitting ‘X’ over and over with the slight special attack thrown in there…somewhat repetitive. It does work, and well we all kinda figured we’d be spamming and spamming to see how much we ‘crit’ for, or how much our ‘backstab’ hits at. It would of been nice to include some tatics here and there, and maybe multi-ing it with friends could lead to flanking mobs, or kiting strategies to handle some of the swarms of mobs that are hurled at you. Respawns of critters seems to be fast also, for those who are into blind ‘XP farming’.

The Good
Once you get past the button spamming and getting over the “I wanted to play a female dwarf to see if she could have a beard”, this game has some nice appeal for the BusyGamer. Quick runs with your friends, levelling up and searching for new gear I will never get tired of. The weapon and armor merchants have random items that are level based, they do change between saves it sorta seems, since I was frequently returning to vendors to see what they may have added. And these items reflect well on your character, better swords glow, bows have fire around them that do ‘fire damage’, and armors change your appearance accordingly. This is do like. When I upgrade my weapon, it should make me feel ‘upgraded’. I see that instead of adding character options, they just added a ton of different loot.

Blood and stuff. The fighting animations are very stylized. Nice blood splats and poision clouds from deadly arrows were a nice touch. Fireballs look like fireballs. Ice spells keep you rooted with ice shards coming out of the ground. It’s good to see the power of these smaller DL’d games be used, and they didn’t skimp on the effects.

The level maps are pretty big. I found myself really looking at the UI map of the cave areas to see what spots or treasure chests I may have missed. They are well marked with quest givers, vendors, and objectives so you wont get lost and caught back in a horde of respawned baddies.

Levelling seems adequately rewarding, not too fast, actually seemed a bit slow, but over all will make the game a good 12hrs or so to finish. Which is pretty fat for a DL.

The Overall
Good if you want a quick jump in and loot some mobs and try to get some upgraded gear. Good if you like a game that you could probably have fun with over XBLive with your buddies while drinking a beer at the same time. Good if you like attention to detail with some nice casting and magic item effects, that reflect well on your playing style, and good if you understand this is not a Dragon Age, or even Baulders Gate caliber of game. Bad if you want good story, indepth character customization, combat tactics, turn based strategy, or a game that requires you to think a whole lot more than past your ‘X’ button. It’s a quick ‘hack and slash let’s see how fast we can dps this mofo down’ type of game, and that’s exactly what I think WOTC and Atari set out to do.

Posted By Crutchboy

Microsoft issues a service alert for Xbox Live

May 25th, 2011

(Gamespot) – It appears as if Sony isn’t the only one with a malfunctioning online store for its games console today. Microsoft has issued a service alert for Xbox 360 and PC gamers indicating that the Xbox Live Marketplace, Games for Windows – Live Marketplace, and Indie Games channel are all suffering technical difficulties.

“We are aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience,” the company said in a message posted to its Xbox Support page. Other aspects of Xbox Live, including online matchmaking and login services, continue to function as intended.

GameSpot’s own attempts to access content have yielded mixed results. An attempt to download content from the Xbox Live Marketplace was successful. However, the same cannot be said for Xbox.com, where attempts to access the Xbox Live Marketplace largely returned page-load errors.

Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot’s request for comment on the matter as of press time. Likewise, the company has yet to indicate the cause of the service interruption, or when gamers can expect Xbox Live connectivity to return to normal working condition.

Posted By BG Crew

Dallas Comic Con, the Reckon Crew, and a Stun Gun

May 23rd, 2011

DCC 2011 - Photos by Jim Brown.

There were several firsts at this particular Dallas Comic Con.

 

It was the first gathering in the spanking new Irving Convention Center. The new building is an impressive sight from the outside and even more so on the inside. The fans were out in force, even with the threat of the impending Rapture hanging over their heads. Fortunately, the Rapture was pushed back to October 21st so we can all stop worrying about that for now.

The other first was the Reckon Crew finally getting to meet Carrie Fisher. Call us fan boys if you must but we’ve been looking forward to this day for a very long time. I was there for Crutchboy when he nearly fainted when Carrie told him he was too short to be a Stormtrooper. I would have even forgiven him if he would have squealed and done that thing with his hands like an excited school girl. But he maintained his cool.

I met another one of my heroes, Leonard Nimoy, at the convention. I’d been unfortunate enough to miss him at some previous events so I made it my mission to meet him this time and get his autograph. My plans to tell him his face was “illogical” fell through, however, so there will be another meeting… Next time, Nimoy, next time.

Gamette Lhars Steck and cosplayers! Photo by Jim Brown.

We stopped by the booth of our two favorite Dallas artists, Terry Parr and Halo Seraphim. Terry and Halo have stepped up their game with their new project ShoNuff Studios. Their art gets better every time I see them and the “cleavage buttons” they’re offering are sure to be a hit with the gents.

Taffeta Darling was in fine form, braving the crowd to hang out with the Reckon Crew. She was a hit with the fans and dressed as Zantanna, I was able to forgive the crowds as they tried to get their picture taken with her. I was even able to forgive them for not knowing who I was.

Stan Lee was in attendance and in high demand. It was good to see him at another convention and I applaud the Dallas Comic Con team for landing him for this gig.

All in all, I continue to be amazed with how quickly this event has grown. The prior events were by no means deficient but my hat is definitely off to the gents at C2 Ventures. If they continue in their current direction, the next event should be spectacular.

As for the stun gun incident, well, here’s a little sneak peek…

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

Near 100% of Android phones have a hole, and it isn’t a good hole.

May 19th, 2011

Yarr, I hope someone did'nt loot my info...dammit.

(Game Politics) – A new report claims that around 99.7 percent of phones using Google’s mobile operating system contain a security hole that can enable hackers to send unencrypted personal data. Mobile devices using the Android operating systems have a weakness that could allow hackers to gain “full access” to private information such as calendar, contact information, and “private web albums,” according to a research group from Germany’s University of Ulm. The security hole could also give hackers the ability to view, modify or delete contacts, calendar events, and private pictures. Thankfully, the security flaw only affects individual phones.

In a new research paper, researchers at the University of Ulm detailed the flaw, testing it for vulnerabilities. They found that some Android applications could transmit unencrypted data, allowing others to “eavesdrop” any of the transmitted information. Researchers were tested to see if they could hack into Android data using a simple third-party application. Apparently they found a lot of success in completing the exercise.

“We wanted to know if it is really possible to launch an impersonation attack against Google services and started our own analysis,” researchers said. “The short answer is: Yes, it is possible, and it is quite easy to do so.”

The hack was tested on various versions of the Android operating system including 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1, 2.3.3, 2.3.4 and 3.0. Phones used in the test included the Nexus One, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible S, and newly released tablet the Motorola XOOM.

Posted By BG Crew

Star Trek & Champions Online up for sale

May 18th, 2011

Hey buddy, what are used Romulans going for now days?

(Gamespot) – Less than three years ago, Atari acquired Cryptic Studios in a deal potentially worth $75 million, with the intention of making the massively multiplayer online game developer a cornerstone in its transition to becoming an online game publishing giant. That intention will never be realized, as the publisher today announced it plans to wash its hands of the studio behind Star Trek Online and Champions Online.

Atari revealed the planned divestiture in its full-year financial report, with Cryptic’s impact on the bottom line filed under the “discontinued operations” section of Atari’s report. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, Atari reported that Cryptic lost a total of €5.3 million ($7.5 million). That was an improvement over the prior year, when Cryptic launched both Star Trek Online and Champions Online, and Atari had the studio down as losing €12.6 million ($17.8 million).

“In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace,” Atari explained in its financial report. “Therefore, the company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate.”

Beyond its previous two online role-playing games, Cryptic has also been at work on Neverwinter, an online game based on the Dungeons & Dragons brand popularized in games by the Neverwinter Nights series. As of press time, Atari has not responded to GameSpot’s request for a status update on Neverwinter, or how the divestiture will impact the ongoing operations of Champions Online and Star Trek Online. However, a community representative on the Star Trek Online forums indicated “there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.”

Posted By BG Crew

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell backs “brain fitness” website

May 11th, 2011

Nolan Bushnell founder of Atari.

(Game Politics) – A new web site called Anti-AgingGames.com launched yesterday, offering brain fitness optimized for “mentally healthy people” over the age of 35. The site is the brainchild of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, who serves as advisor and as the company’s chief game visionary. The company also announced that 20 percent of its pre-tax profits will be given to charity.

The site will offer visitors “scientifically-based brain fitness games” optimized for mentally healthy people over age 35, for a monthly subscription fee. Brain training activities include memory, concentration and focus games, as well as games that provide relaxation and stress reduction.

Anti-AgingGames.com was co-founded by Elizabeth Amini, a former scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a background in cognitive science. Co-founder Brent Bushnell serves as Chief Technology Officer. Anti-AgingGames.com’s Scientific Advisory Board includes Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., Neuroscientist at Rockefeller University; Linda Kaplan, M.D., Clinical Neurologist and Professor of Clinical Neurology at University of California, Irvine Medical Center; Simon Tan, Psy.D., A.B.P.P., Neuropsychologist at Stanford University Medical Center; Muriel Lezak, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist and Professor Emerita of Neurology at Oregon Health and Science University; and Michael D. Campos, Ph.D., Staff Program Researcher at UCLA. Bill Lennartz, recently retired President and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, is Chairman of the Board of Advisors.

“It has been disappointing to watch videogames become increasingly violent and complicated over the years and lacking in fun, socially engaging and educational features. I have long believed that video and computer games could be highly effective, fun educational tools, and I am pleased to see more activity on that front,” says Bushnell.

Posted By BG Crew

Kuma War game let’s you shoot your own Bin Laden.

May 9th, 2011

(Hollywood Reporter) – Less than a week after America’s elite Navy SEALs assassinated Osama Bin Laden, gamers will be able to virtually experience the raid and pull the trigger to kill the al Qaeda leader. KumaWar Episode 107: Osama 2011 is the final mission of the long-running online video game franchise, which launched in 2004.

The new game mission, which launched on May 7, was developed by New York-based game studio Kuma Games, which makes online games for the History Channel, Animal Planet and Biography Channel. Over 20 million gamers have logged onto one of Kuma’s 150 online game episodes over the years.

The free-to-play KumaWar franchise has been accurately recreating key battles and missions in the War on Terror for the past eight years, working with current and former military personnel to bring the interactive action to life.

Download the newest KumaWar episode here from Kuma Games.

Posted By BG Crew

SONY CEO apologizes to gamers

May 6th, 2011

PSN still down after security breach.

(Reuters) – Sony Chief Executive Officer Howard Stringer apologised to users of its PlayStation Network and other online services, breaking his silence on the biggest Internet security break-in ever.

Stringer’s comments, which did not specify when services would resume, come after criticism of his leadership since Sony revealed hackers had compromised the data of more than 100 million accounts used for accessing games and music over the Internet.

“As a company we, and I, apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack,” Stringer said on Sony’s U.S. PlayStation blog late on Thursday.

The incident may prove to be a significant setback for a company looking to recover after being outmanoeuvred by Apple in portable music and Samsung Electronics in flat-screen TVs and which faces a tough fight in video games with Nintendo and Microsoft.

One analyst said security concerns could weigh on sales of Sony’s gadgets and hurt growth prospects for its network services.

“There is a real concern that trust in Sony’s business will decline,” Kota Ezawa, analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Japan, wrote in a note ahead of the comments from Stringer.

“The network business itself still only makes a small direct contribution to earnings, but we see a potential drop in hardware sales as a concern.”

[Full article at Reuters.com]

Posted By BG Crew

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