Posts Tagged ‘Blizzard’

Chinese prisoners sentenced to WoW gold farming

Friday, 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.

Microsoft, just say you messed up and move on

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

If you have one of these, it's possible you haven't been making many calls on it

On Monday, there were reports of “bricked” Samsung Windows phones due to a patch Microsoft had released. As you can imagine, this was not a stellar beginning for Microsoft considering this was the first ever patch they had released for the devices.

Instead of owning up to the “oops”, Microsoft has chosen instead to point out that it was only 10% of users that were affected by the glitch. Considering that back in December Microsoft announced that 1.5 million phones had launched in the first six weeks, that’s 150,000 users potentially affected by the glitch. Maybe that’s a “small number” in some circles but to me, it’s still a significant amount of people you’ve dismissed by saying only a “small percentage” was affected.

Microsoft’s track record with accepting blame hasn’t exactly been stellar. We’ve seen them dump blame on others when it comes to Internet Explorer problems. We’ve seen them dodge the question about whether or not Bing is mining data from Google. They’ve never gone so far as to say, “you’re holding it wrong” but I think they’ve come right up to that line and then backed off a little.

Here’s the thing… I think as a virtual whole, users are tired of big businesses minimizing or trivializing their mistakes when it causes issues with devices or software they’ve purchased. There was a time not so long ago when product stability overrode the incessant need to profit by launching an incomplete product. There was a time when quality meant something and companies went the extra mile to make sure the product they were launching was tested thoroughly before it ever saw the light of day.

I’ve heard the arguments that postponing a launch can cost a company millions. I’ve heard the arguments that the longer a product is tested, the more opportunity there is for corporate espionage. And I say to all of those companies… YOU’RE doing it wrong.

I’m going to give an example of someone who does things right… or as close to right as one can get when dealing with technology or software. Blizzard Entertainment has an amazing record when it comes to keeping a product secret and then turning around and launching a product that very rarely fails when taken out of the box.

How they do it is something of a mystery and perhaps we’re better off not knowing.

That’s not to say Blizzard doesn’t have its own mishaps. There have been times in the past when a patch has essentially made a game unplayable for a portion of their playerbase. When it does happen, however, Blizzard doesn’t trivialize their own fault. They admit it, they own it, the ‘fess up to it. When World of Warcraft was first launched and there were issues with patches that made the game unplayable, they gave me free subscription time. In one case, the game was unplayable for several hours and I was surprised to find they had added three free days to my subscription. Along with their apology, they’d given me something for free without hemming and hawing about it.

That’s rare in this day and age when it takes weeks and sometimes even months for companies to admit their fault and actually do something about it.

My advice to Microsoft is to stop pushing blame off on other parties or issuing statements saying that only a “small percentage” of users were affected.

Own up to the mistake. I, for one, will be much more forgiving the next time it happens.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Night Elves and Blood Elves living together, oh my! (NSFW)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Developers behind the sexy adventure game BoneTown have now released a trailer for their new project BoneCraft.

BoneCraft is a fantasy/sci-fi game parodying the MMORPG powerhouse World of Warcraft / Starcraft. The game is also noted to contain the likeness of elf and orc ‘women/men of the night’, and wild adventuring drunken space marines. We have no premise of what the other gameplay will be just yet, but you can bet your +2 Vorpal Long Sword it will be 18+ content.

And just know that you were warned now, before you get to the ‘elf toe licking’ scene. NSFW.

BG’s Top 5 Games of 2010

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I’d have to say that 2010 was a hell of a year. I’m almost sorry to see it end with all of the fun we had this past year but I can honestly say 2011 is already shaping up to be another great year.

We’re already lining up our 2011 Gamettes and the contest for our 2010 Gamette of the Year is still in full swing and will be running until January 16th so don’t let the thought of some new geeky hotness distract from the lovely ladies who are already on the site.

Don’t think we forgot about our Top Five of 2010 list, either. We know some of you probably wish we would but tough noogies,  you get one!

So without further ado or fanfare, here’s our top 5 game picks for 2010 in no particular order:

That's five assassins. That's ten "ass-es" and five "ins".

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: This one comes could almost be our top pick for 2010 with its damn near perfect mixture of story, action, and multiplayer goodness. There’s very little wrong with this game but some of what is wrong can bring the fun to a screeching halt.

Following the exploits of Ezio Auditore, ACB brings some of the best single player action we’ve seen all year. As an Assassin in 16th century Italy, Ezio is a solid badass with an arsenal of moves and weapons at his disposal that serve to decimate opponents while you hack, slash, and stab your way to revenge. The missions can be a bit frustrating but fortunately, there’s a very forgiving checkpoint and autosave system that will help ease the pain of the more treacherous tasks Ezio has in store for him.

The multiplayer *can* be a blast. Short, furious matches where patience is rewarded more favorably than the quick and dirty kill. Points are based on the quality of the kills you make so you might get 3 primo kills and beat out the guy with 12 kills. As you level up your multiplayer character, you get access to more equipment and perks which can change the way you play in multiplayer.

The downside of the multiplayer is the wait times. There seems to be something hinky about the way Ubisoft’s matchmaking works and you may end up waiting 20 minutes for a 10 minute match which can seriously eat into your session time in what would otherwise be an excellent time saver. In the end, the weird match setups can be forgiven as this game is very Busy Gamer friendly. If you have 30 minutes to play, you can get a substantial amount of enjoyment from this title.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare: The BG Reckon Crew has expressed their undying (pun intended) love for the western shoot ‘em up that is Red Dead Redemption. While there have been several DLC updates for the game, Undead Nightmare made it a whole new game. There’s a very real feeling of desperation when you begin as ammo is much more scarce in this DLC than in the main game and the storyline actually picks up during an earlier point in the main game, meaning that if you’ve already beat the game, you’re going to be seeing all those familiar old places in a whole new light.

New weapons and outfits are just the capper on this DLC. Undead Nightmare also adds some new multiplayer but where the game shines is the new single player missions. As in the original, missions can be time consuming and you’re definitely going to want to see what happens next so busy gamers should approach the DLC with that in mind. And just like in the main game, once you’ve beaten the main story, you can continue to play well after the final credits roll. Whether it’s hunting sasquatch (seriously) or just gunning down zombies, there’s plenty to do once you’ve finished the storyline.

We play primarily for the sheer amount of headbands in Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops: Amid all the turmoil that’s been going on with Activision and Infinity Ward, the Call of Duty franchise has managed to launch another winner in the series with Developer Treyarch back at the helm this year. Along with revamping the popular Nazi Zombies mode, Black Ops manages to land another one-two punch with a fantastic story and incredible gameplay. Not only did the single player campaign manage to keep me on the edge of my seat, the multiplayer modes available do not fail to satisfy.

Unlike the Modern Warfare entries of the franchise, the single player story felt considerably longer. This isn’t a bad thing as I’ve felt the stories being told in the previous entries was almost too short to enjoy but it’s something to keep in mind when trying to get in some quick gameplay. The scenarios have a tendency to grab your attention so the real danger isn’t that you can’t get in quick games but that you won’t want to turn it off once you get going.

New multiplayer maps, weapons, and gears have added an entirely new facet to the frenzy that has become CoD’s multiplayer sessions. Games are quick to come up though if you’re trying to find one specific type of map or game type, you may find yourself waiting a little longer. Try not to get too caught up in the Nazi Zombies multiplayer. You may find yourself missing hours from your life.

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty: Twelve years in the making meant a lot of expectations for this sequel. We all know, however, that sequels just happens to be one of the things Blizzard does well. Thus, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Wings of Liberty landed and not only surpassed our expectations but ended up being a hit with people who hadn’t even played the original.

As with most of Blizzard’s products, WoL hit the markets with some phenomenal music, voice work, and gameplay. A solid sequel to the story told in the original and the add ons, Wings of Liberty managed to captivate our attention all over again.

With two more expansions in the works (Wings of Liberty covered only the Human campaign, the Protoss and Zerg campaigns are yet to be released), the Starcraft franchise is officially back in business. While the single player campaign could be a little time consuming, the multiplayer is still the same frantic pace as the original and can make for some quick, sometimes frustrating, matches for those who are gaming on a schedule.

Time will tell if the two add ons will generate as much interest but it’s a good bet that Blizzard has yet another hit on its hands.

This screen shot will mean absolutely nothing to you unless you play the game...

Game Dev Story: Yeah, I’m throwing an app up here on my top five. That’s why it’s my top five and not yours. Available for iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Android, Game Dev Story is one of those games that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

The scenario is this; you’re a new game company creating (what else?) games for the various devices on the imaginary market. While many of the “consoles” you create games for bear some resemblance to real life devices, you are able to create your own console and program for it. You choose from categories that set the tone for your game (Robot Fighting or Animal RPG Sim anyone?) and then go to market with it.

It’s a clever little game that can be played at length or with just a few minutes a day and you won’t regret any of the time invested… unless you do something like forget to walk the dog or feed the kids or something. The greatest part of this game is that it is portable and easy to click a few times and then sit back to see what happens. In all honesty, this has been one of the few games that I’ve felt compelled to buy from the very get go and the first time I played it, I realized a few hours of my life had disappeared as I tried to tweak my programming team and figure out which games were the money makers.

I imagine this game will see some improvements as time goes on but as it stands now, it’s a great game if you want something a bit more portable to entertain you during your down time.

There it is, folks, our top five picks for 2010. If you haven’t had the chance to play them yet, we highly recommend them all. Before you run off to pick them up though, go vote for our Gamette of the Year because every time you don’t vote, I kill a kitten.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Guild kicks Warcraft player for being deaf

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Unwelcome gets unwelcomed by his WoW Guild

World of Warcraft player “Unwelcome” suffered an accident that permanently robbed him of his hearing this recent year. Upon finding himself feeling abit alienated and shunned by his friends in real life, he also found out his Warcraft buddies to be a shunning experience.

Some games require a certain level of hearing, nowadays with subititles implemented for many story plot lines, most are not the case. Warcraft is very “deaf-friendly” overflowing with text-filled quests that don’t require aural cues to complete.

In Unwelcome’s case, his raiding guild was not so understanding:

“So i came back to wow. Now I’ve been playing with my guild for about 4 years. We have all become close friends. We have even done some rl (real life) guild parties. I explained why i have been off for so long to the guild. I explained my condition. Everyone was pretty supportive for about 5 minutes.

Do you know what the first question i got from my guild leader was? He asked me if i could still use (popular voice chat program) vent (Ventrilo). I told him no, but tried to assure him it wouldn’t be a problem as i usually research the fights beforehand and use dbm (deadly boss mods – a popular dungeon helper mod).

He tells me that i can’t raid unless i have vent. Guild rules and all. I was pissed. After a huge blow out between us i get removed from the guild and put on ignore.”

Since the happening, there has been many respondents to Unwelcome’s original post and most have clearly stated that there are plenty of ways to get around having a deaf raiding party member.

Unwelcome being quite despondent, later realized the World of Warcraft community at large rallied behind him with supportive words. Some did argue that his guild leader was within his rights to ban Unwelcome from raiding, arguments have been well-spoken and without malice.

Not quitting his World of Warcraft experience, Unwelcome has decided to make something of his own guild called ‘That Canadian Guild’ started by him and his brother on the Llane server in the aftermath of the incident.

Tenacious D to perform at BlizzCon 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Time to melt faces.

Time to melt faces.

Last October, Jack Black starred in Electronics Art’s Brutal Legend as protagonist Eddie Riggs. This year, at BlizzCon 2010, Black will perform under the banner of Blizzard.

(Gamespot) – Blizzard today sent word that rock group Tenacious D, a band composed of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, will perform at this year’s BlizzCon during the closing ceremony on October 23. The band is known for its HBO show Tenacious D: The Greatest Band on Earth, as well as its two albums, live concert DVDs, and feature film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. According to Blizzard, Tenacious D will debut new songs during their set.

As in years past, BlizzCon will feature a variety of activities catering to the tastes of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo fans. Those in attendance will be able to play prerelease builds of Blizzard’s upcoming games, including World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Diablo III. The show will also include a variety of panels form Blizzard developers, casual and competitive tournaments, contests, a silent auction, and a merchandise store.

Some 20,000 tickets were sold at $125 a pop to BlizzCon 2009, though Blizzard has said that the event remains unprofitable. Highlights included the announcement of WOW’s third expansion, Cataclysm, as well as a live performance by metal maestro Ozzy Osbourne.

BlizzCon 2010 will be held October 22-23 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The event is sold out, but those interested in the latest Blizzard news can purchase a BlizzCon 2010 Virtual Ticket for $39.95 to watch more than 50 hours of content from the event over at www.worldofwarcraft.com.

Woman charged with using WoW to entice underage person

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

No really, I'm 20. In Elf years.

(Buffalonews.com) – A woman from Michigan is accused of traveling to Amherst to illegally have sex with a teenager she met while playing an Internet video game called “World of Warcraft.”

Law enforcement officials called the arrest of Angie L. Jenkins, 35, highly unusual, because she is believed to be the first woman to be charged in Western New York with the crime of using the Internet to entice an underage person into sexual activity.

Jenkins, who appeared Tuesday in Buffalo’s federal court, is from Lowell, Mich., near Grand Rapids. She traveled to Amherst on June 11 to meet a 16-year-old from the Buffalo area and have sex with him in a car parked in a department store parking lot on Transit Road, FBI agents said.

The youth was 15 when he met Jenkins online and was 16 when they had sex, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said.

The two met online in 2009, while playing a game called “World of Warcraft.” They communicated online and sometimes by phone over a period of several months before the sexual meeting took place, Mango and FBI Special Agent Dan Bradley said in court papers.

“[The victim] stated that he initially told Jenkins that he was 20 years old and that Jenkins stated that she was 21,” Bradley said in a court affidavit.

At one point in their conversations, the victim told Jenkins that he was actually 15 years old, and Jenkins told him that “it did not matter how old he was,” the agent said.

Jenkins initiated discussion about traveling to Amherst to meet the victim, and she also initiated the sexual contact, Bradley said in court papers.

Mango said the FBI found out what screen name Jenkins used while playing “World of Warcraft” and issued an administrative subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of the Internet video game.

The company then provided Jenkins’ name, address and telephone number to the FBI, Mango said in court papers.

During a brief court proceeding on the felony charge, Jenkins told U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott that she has five children, has been married twice and receives public assistance. The woman appeared to be distraught over the arrest.

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Initial Impressions

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Yeah, it's been 12 years but I'm baaaaaaaaack.

Nearly 12 years after the original was released, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty finally saw the light of day when it launched yesterday. Fans of the first game, and its resulting expansions, had been eagerly awaiting the launch since rumors of a sequel surfaced several years ago. And after I had played the demo and participated in the beta, I was among those anxious fans.

I received my copy yesterday and quickly made a beeline for my PC when I got in the door. On opening the package, I was pleased to see that Blizzard had included a pad of paper as they did in days of old but instead of the Blizzard watermark, there was a watermarked Wanted poster for the game’s protagonist, James Raynor. It was a nice touch and a timely one since I was running low on my old Blizzard notepads.

I’d been a little concerned that I would have to go back and load up the original game and expansions to get back up to speed on the storyline. While Starcraft was an RTS, there was a great story being told as you fought for survival. But my fears were unfounded as during the install of Wings of Liberty, the backstory was told in a series of slides voiced over by the Adjutant, the AI that served as your tutor when you originally began the first game.

Fans of the original will be happy to hear some familiar voices returning to the second game. Robert Clotworthy has returned to voice James Raynor and the dictator Arcturus Mengsk is once again voiced by James Harper. It was good to hear those familiar voices speaking all new dialogue as the story began to unfold.

After staying glued to my monitor for nearly two hours, I can safely say that Blizzard has managed to capture the spirit of the original game while advancing the gameplay mechanics and the story line as well. When the first mini Zerg Rush came blasting towards my front lines, I felt a surge of excitement. As my marines happily slaughtered the encroaching alien horde, I was surprised by the familiar feeling surrounding it all but rather than feeling like I had “been there, done that”, I was happy to be there again.

There’s been some marked improvements on gameplay, as one might expect after 12 years. Units and buildings can be upgraded between missions and rather than the “tech” advances one makes on the battlefield which disappear between missions, the units carry the improvements with them into each fight. Several of the old units make their return into the fray, marines, firebats, medics, but there’s also new and improved units to play with as you progress through the story.

Unfortunately, I was unable to sample the multiplayer mode due to some problems on Battle.net (no surprise considering everyone was probably trying to play all at one time) but I suspect that it will be as fulfilling as the original. I’ll update our Busy Gamers out there as soon as I am able to get in a game.

All in all, my initial reaction is to recommend this game to anyone who may have been a fan of the first. Single player missions last night lasted anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes so it may be possible to get in a quick session or two before our busy lives demand our attention. I’ll post up a full review as soon as possible.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

More money for Blizzard!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

For 3 bucks a month you can grab that leet gear from your phone!

Blizzard to levy extra $3 subscription fee for buying and selling items through Web browser or Mobile Armory iPhone app.

(Gamespot) – Blizzard Entertainment already charges over 11 million World of Warcraft players up to $15 a month for access to the world of Azeroth. Now the company hopes those subscribers will be willing to tack on a few extra dollars each month for access to new WOW-related features.

“I have one copper piece from the terrifying gentleman with the glowing eyes. Do I hear two copper pieces? No? Going once, going twice…
The company has announced a beta testing period for World of Warcraft Remote, a $3 monthly subscription service that will allow players to manage their in-game auction house activities from a Web browser or through the World of Warcraft Mobile Armory app for the iPhone and iPod Touch (Blizzard is considering adding support for other mobile devices). During the beta, players will be able to test out all the features of World of Warcraft Remote for free.

Once the service goes live, World of Warcraft players will still be able to use some features without paying for the additional subscription. Browsing auctions, receiving notifications when auctions close or players are outbid, and viewing various character information and status updates will all remain free.

However, bidding and buying out auctions, placing items up for sale, collecting gold, relisting items, or cancelling actions will all be limited to those players who sign up for the additional subscription fee. A list of the in-game realms currently running the World of Warcraft Remote beta test is available on Blizzard’s official World of Warcraft forums.

[Full article at Gamespot.com]

Starcraft II makes contact July 27

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Starcraft II - in stores July 27

(Gamespot) – Many-a-PC gamers’ summer plans were ruined this afternoon, when Blizzard Entertainment announced the long-awaited launch date for its real-time strategy game, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. The first installment in the three-part sequel will launch worldwide, China excepted, on July 27 for the PC and Mac and will retail for $60 in the US. The game will also be available in a deluxe $100 Collector’s Edition that will include a 176-page art book and a flash drive preloaded with the original Starcraft and its Brood War expansion.

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will focus on the human Terran campaign with a 29-mission single-player campaign. However, the multiplayer component will also let gamers wage interstellar real-time strategy warfare as the hivelike Zerg and technologically advanced Protoss factions. Eager gamers who preorder the RTS via GameStop will be able to join the ongoing Starcraft II beta. (Orders cannot be canceled once GameStop sends out the beta key.)

Starcraft II is the first new stand-alone game from Blizzard Entertainment since 2004′s World of Warcraft, which has dominated the subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing market. Wall Street analysts are bullish on the RTS’s potential sales, with Pacific Crest Securities’ Evan Wilson predicting the game will sell over 6 million copies. Wedbush’s Michael Pachter believes that combined with the launch of the latest WOW expansion, Cataclysm, Blizzard could see game sales of 12 million units this year.










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