Tag Archives: gamer

Halo: Reach Beta Preview

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Dan is a moderator in our live community chat room who goes by the name of Guru_Meditation. As an avid gamer and radio personality in the UK, I knew he was the perfect person to review the beta of Halo: Reach I received from Bungie. Judging by what you see in this video, this newest iteration of the popular game is going to fly off the shelves when it is finally released later this year.

Halo: Reach is a first-person shooter game set in the year 2552, where humanity is locked in a war with the alien Covenant. In the game, players control Noble 6, a member of an elite supersoldier squad, during a battle for the human world of Reach.

Back in Halo 3, players weilded single-use equipment powerups that gave temporary offensive (or defensive) advantages. This system has been replaced in Reach with reusable armor abilities. Those armor abilities will stay with a player until replaced by you. Amongst the new abilities, you’ll find a jetpack, active camo, sprint and armor lock. Armor lock is pretty cool: it makes you invincible in exchange for loss of mobility.

If rumors are to be believed, this will be the final version of the Halo series EVER. If this is true, Dan feels it’s a perfect way to end things… on the note of the prequel. Halo: Reach is set in a time period prior to that of the original game.

Dan says that he’s read a lot of negative commentary about this version. Apparently, there are many gamers complaining that Bungie “dumbed-down” the multi-player mode a lot in this game and removed many strategic elements to focus more on action. But if you’re a newcomer to multi-player modes, you’re able to get into the game much more quickly.

The beta was due to end Monday night. Bungie released an announcement just a couple of hours ago, though: the beta has been extended! According to Bungie’s Brian Jarrard, “Our official plans as of now are to turn off the Reach beta on Thursday, 5/20 at 10 AM PDT.”

Dan feels strongly that gaming companies should step up to the plate and offer more beta games in this manner. It not only gives them a larger audience to help them iron out the kinks prior to release… it gets people excited about the game. Dan and I both predict that Halo: Reach is going to be a huge hit. More than one million people signed up for the beta on day 1, and the game broke into the top four most-played games on Xbox Live during the first week.

Thanks, Dan, for an excellent screencast and a fun look inside Halo: Reach. How many of you are now waiting impatiently for the game to be released this fall? Will you be grabbing a copy for yourself?

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Super Mario Bros Crossover Will Bring You Back to the Future

I’ve said many times over the years that I’m only a casual gamer. I don’t play any of the new-fangled games that you guys seem to be addicted to. I enjoy a few hours of Tetris, sure. However, I have to admit I miss the old days. I LOVED the original games that I lost myself in for hours: Asteroid, Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and even PitFall. These classic games are hard to beat, even with the amazing graphics we have in games today.

Thank god we now have Super Mario Brothers Crossover to keep me sane. The game is a remake of the first Mario game, but with six playable 80s-era characters. This awesome little slice of heaven mixes the classic platform levels with the variously controlled platform heroes from other franchises.

You’ll find some pretty cool characters to play around with, including Bill R from Contra (who shoots directionally) and Mega Man with his blaster. Samus from Metroid will turn into a ball and drop bombs. Mario is still starring as himself, of course. The cast is rounded out with Link and Simon Belmont from Castlevania.

I admit I’m already hooked. God only knows how long this game will be available, so I’ve been playing every chance I get. It may sound too “old school” for you based on my description. However, that’s exactly what I like about it so much. This game takes me back… while bringing me right smack into the future at the same time. Can you imagine the gaming possibilities if other games you love were to combine characters as this one has?

Tap Tap Radiation

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Tap Tap Radiation is a free iPad app in the iTunes store. I admit to getting completely caught up in this game. It’s more fun and addictive than you might realize! I even sang along with it!

You can play along with a song already in the library, or create a whole new track of your own. You can even download about 30 free tracks in the app store, including songs by Pink and Lady GaGa!

With four difficulty levels to choose from, Tap Tap Radiation creates intense single player action for music enthusiasts and gamers of any age. At this point in time, the game is only a single-player one. However, perhaps in the future we’ll see the ability to play against others. For now, you can always grab a friend and have them help you since the iPad screen is so big!

If you know of other cool games for the iPad, let me know. I’d love to check them out and possibly review them here on my blog.

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What is the Future of Arcades?

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Arcades. That’s such a beautiful word which brings back a lot of good memories for me. I spent as much time as possible during my younger days in the local video game arcade, feeding quarters into my favorite machines. Eric called from California the other night to talk about the olden days, and to ask my thoughts on where the future of arcades in the U.S. is heading.

I know that in some countries, game arcades are still a huge deal. I honestly think it’s the social aspect that attracts people. However, I’m not sure why we aren’t as social here anymore. Have we really turned in to a country that would rather just stay inside alone, rather than have to interact with others? I hate the thought of that.

I do still love classic games. Heck, I have a video game system right in my office! I can’t begin to count up how many hours I spent shooting things in Asteroids, or trying to rescue the princess in Donkey Kong. We cannot leave out PacMan, Mario and so many other awesome games, either.

Do you still play classic arcade games? Do you GO to an arcade, or do you prefer to play games in the confinement of your home?

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Gaming Addiction Vs Gaming Obsession – Where do You Draw the Line?

Last night, I published a post discussing the unfortunate death of an infant, due to its parents’ inability – or desire – to properly care for it. The reason? They were busy feeding their video game addiction. This isn’t the first case like this that I’ve come across online, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last.

During a discussion via Google Buzz about this article, Peter had some excellent insight regarding addiction to things like games vs. an obsession.

For one thing, people throw the word “addiction” around like they know what it means. If gaming kills someone, then it’s likely safe so say that they had an addiction. For the most part, however, when people are obsessed with games, they aren’t necessarily addicted. Addiction isn’t mere obsession. Addiction isn’t the mere compulsion to participate in something.

When ANYTHING reaches the level of “addiction”… then, yes, it has the capability of killing someone. Asking the question is like asking, “If someone is so obsessed with gaming that they stop eating, can it kill them?” The correct answer is, “Yes, if someone stops eating, it can eventually kill them.” It has nothing to do with the “gaming”… it has everything to do with the “not eating”. When something becomes so compulsive that you stop eating, then it is safe to say that it is an addiction.

An addiction, for the most part, is when something negatively affects your life and even when you actively weigh the pros and cons and recognize that the cons outweigh the pros and you decide you would rather no longer participate in the activity, that you find you are unable to stop and know that you need help.

Most hard-core gamers are not reaching out for help. They weigh the pros and cons and the pros win. They enjoy playing. Very few gamers would truly make the decision to continue playing if they knew, for instance, that they were seconds away from death. When someone who isn’t necessarily addicted to gaming (but is obsessed by it) ends up dying or ending up extremely ill, the problem isn’t necessarily an “addiction”… it’s a lack of responsibility.

An irresponsible person can die while doing any kind of activity. It’s the irresponsibility that kills, not the distraction. If you WANT to stop gaming, however, but find that you simply cannot pull away… THAT’S an addiction, and you should seek help.

Very sage advice in that last sentence. If you cannot pull yourself away from your game(s) to attend to your “real” life, it’s time to get some kind of help. Ask a friend, parent, teacher, pastor or any other trusted person in your life to help you, and get you pointed in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on this matter? There’s no debate that the couple in the original article had some type of problem. Let’s discuss the differences between addictions and obsessions, as well as how a person (especially teens) can tell that they may, indeed, have a problem.

New Year’s Resolutions with a Twist

While you’re making your list of resolutions this year, why not add in some of a different nature? If you’ve been “meaning” to have more of a presence on the various social media networks, why not turn that into a resolution? Resolve to send out a particular number of thought-provoking tweets per day. Decide how often you will be able to update your various site profiles, and stick to it!

People want to know what you’re up to. I know, I know… you’re busy. I am, as well! But it’s critical these days to have an active presence on the various social media sites if you’re any kind of social Geek. You have to keep yourself – and your community – updated. Don’t just post about your dinner, either. People want to know what’s really going on in that head of yours!

Commit yourself to not only blogging yourself, but to reading what others have done. There are a lot of excellent findings right within our own community, if only you make the time to look!

Just in time for the holiday shopping crunch, our downloads team has assembled an excellent array of software and App offerings. Be sure to check out what’s available, and save money on software purchases!

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

There was an interesting post over on Lockergnome today, asking whether you are addicted to the Internet. There’s even a link to a quiz so that you can find out if you are!

I could sit here and crack jokes about how addicted I am to the Internet. In reality, though, it’s not a laughing matter. There is a tremendous difference between spending a lot of time doing what you love – and being utterly and helplessly addicted to it. Internet addiction is a reality, and it’s growing at an alarming rate. People who are addicted to the web are becoming obsessed with what they do there to the point that they ignore their “real” life, their responsibilities, and often their health. Marriages have broken up due to this. People have lost jobs due to this. Kids have been suspended from school because of this. It’s scary, and it’s real.

So, I ask you – are YOU addicted to the Internet? Have you taken the quiz, and read your results? When and where do you draw the line between having fun, and tumbling into an addiction? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Today on our downloads site, you’ll find several applications for both Windows and Mac. Heck, you might even find something for your mobile phone!

Windows 7 – Better for Gamers?

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During a live call session the other night, people were on the phone to gab about Windows 7. We talked about everything from security to aesthetics. This particular caller, Sonu, is a member of our live community on a regular basis. He is a gamer, and had something interesting to note in favor of Windows 7 that I hadn’t yet heard. I’m wondering if you are experiencing this, as well.

Sonu has been using Windows Vista for awhile now, and has only recently upgraded to Windows 7. He has the exact same hardware setup, and all of the same software installed now as he did with Vista. However, he’s noticed one very large – and very welcome – change: he is getting 10-15 frames-per-second (FPS) more than he did back when he used Vista.

FPS – or Frames Per Second – describes the rate at which your graphics card produces images on the screen. A real-time frame describes the amount of time it takes for your machine to complete the full round of processing tasks. Each type of application (or game!) requires a different level of FPS in order to work properly. It’s up to the designers and developers to decide what that is, and design the software around this in order to maximize performance for all types of computers. However, your graphics card has a LOT to do with it, as well. A low-quality or lesser “version” will cause your game or software to lag out, while a better one will give you the best experience.

Is this something you other gamers out there are noticing as well? I imagine that this absolutely is a very good upgrade for you if you are. Let’s hear from you gaming Geeks… are you getting more FPS now on Windows 7 than you did on other operating systems?

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An Insider’s Look at the New Game Aion

XX0wnsXY (Becca) is a girl gamer geek. She’s hardcore, boys, and regularly beats out her male counterparts in various games she plays. She’s been a part of our community for quite awhile now, and has contributed insights and commentary in the past when we’ve talked about various games.

Becca emailed me today, with the below review/guide for her new favorite game Aion. She took the time to write a very comprehensive piece for all of you, so I wanted to post it in full. Credit for the below goes entirely to Becca!

This is my first MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role – Playing Game). (I used to be so against RPGs, but this one has swayed me). So, my review is submitted from a new user’s point of view. I would really like it if anyone with past MMORPG experience can reply and offer an experienced point of view on the game. I think the two contrasts would be interesting.

So the game is called Aion (“Eye-On”). It is, as I said, a MMO-RPG. It’s categorized as PvPvE (Player vs. Player vs. Environment). It’s been out in Korea for a year or more, and was released in the US a month ago.

The story line, in simple terms (although they go into great detail in multiple cut-scenes throughout the game, with awesome graphics):

A world of peace began to crumble after some of the race called “Draken” rebelled against the God “Aion”, and in turn, a huge battle broke out and the world was shattered in to three pieces. These events became known as “The Cataclysm” (Kat-a-Cliz-em) This created three races: “Elyos” (good) who live in “Elysea”, and Asmodians (Evil) who live in Asmodae, and Balaur -(The Draken renamed after their rebellion; not a playable race, NPC’s only, and are hostile against both Elyos and Asmodians, (which plays into the PvPvE.) who reside in the Abyss. The third piece, known as the “Abyss” is the space between Elysea and Asmodae, where both factions gain access at level 25 and begin the true PvP (Player vs. Player) aspect of the game.

You are able to choose which faction you would like to be at the start of your game. You begin your game by choosing one of the 4 classes, Male or Female; Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. I, personally, chose to start as a Priest. You can customize your characters appearance greatly (from hair, skin, eye, and lip color, to extremety thickness, voice and much more).

You begin your journey in the “starter area”, which is different for each faction, of course. You level from 1-9 with simple quests that help you get acquainted with the various menu options and NPC’s. You also become acquainted with your current skills and abilities. Along with that, you become acquainted with the game’s travel systems, which are:

  • A Flight Transporter – Allows you to pay a fee to fly (on a winged animal of some sort, very cool looking) to your destination. The graphics are awesome during flight.
  • A Teleporter – You simply pay a fee and jump into a portal – and your game loads into your destination.

You can bring up your map by pressing “M”. It will give you a full overview of the area you are in, along with surrounding areas. You can press “N” and a smaller, more transparent version will appear, which is convenient while walking/flying and still needing to see where you are going. When you are grouped with other people in the same area, they will appear on the map as blue diamonds.

You will also become acquainted with Soul Healing and resurrection. Should you die along the way (and you will, believe me), you will be given the option to return to the place where you last bound your soul (You bind your soul to obelisk’s in major cities), or you can choose to wait (up to 30 minutes) and ask for someone to come resurrect you. Chanters and Clerics have the ability to resurrect. There are also resurrection stones that can be bought and acquired during quests that can be used on another player.

If you are not resurrected, you return to your bind point, and beside you will be a Soul Healer. For a fee, you will be healed of soul sickness (this makes your movement slow and you are unable to fly/glide) and you will recover your experience that you lost. The amount of experience lost depends on your level. The price of soul healing goes up the more times you die, and becomes very expensive over time, so you must be careful. You don’t have to worry about soul healing when it comes to PvP. If you are killed by the opposite faction, soul healing only costs 1 gold and you do not lose any experience. You do, however, lose Abyss Points (discussed later).

At level 9, you receive an “ascension” quest, which will allow you to become a “Daeva” (advanced humans who have tapped into the power of the Aether to gain new abilities and strengths that put them far beyond the power levels of any mortal human) and choose your subclass. The subclasses are:

  • For Warrior – Gladiator or Templar.
  • For Scout – Assassin or Ranger
  • For Priest – Chanter or Cleric
  • For Mage – Sorcerer or Spirit Master

I started as a Priest, so I chose to evolve into a Chanter. I won’t go into too much detail about the classes/subclasses, as that would take entirely too much time, but each one has its positives and negatives. I like being a Chanter, because we can adapt to pretty much any situation (I.E – we can heal, have buffs, have decent DPS – Damage per Second, and are needed in many group situations).

Shortly after you have completed your ascension quest, you receive a quest to earn your wings. Yes, you can fly in this game, which is something I hear is much different from any MMO out there. The flight ability in this game is so much fun and adds a new and interesting aspect to PvP. You will find that pre-abyss (lvls 1-24), you will use your wings mostly to glide down long hills to make your trips a little faster. There are a few designated areas where you are free to fly, otherwise you can only glide.

If you are interested in PvP before level 25, there are opportunities for this. There are temporary openings from one world to another (Elysea to Asmodae and vice versa) that allow you to go to the opposite factions world and hunt the enemy. These are known as Rifts. However, you have little chance to stay alive, unless you are grouped with other people. I found this annoying at times, because I would be trying to complete a quest in my world, and out of nowhere, comes a group of enemies and of course, I get killed. When the shoe is on the other foot however, it’s fun. Yeah Yeah, I can dish it but can’t take it. Enemies of the opposing faction show up on your radar as red diamonds. You will have to worry more about this in the Abyss.

The good thing is that rifts close after a certain number of people enter them, so they do not last forever. There are even spy quests that you can acquire that require you to go to the enemy’s world and complete a mission. They are very hard, but offer great rewards. I have yet to complete them… like I said, very hard.

Throughout your leveling experience, you will occasionally need to learn new skills/abilities. These are learned from your class trainer, and are in designated areas in the game. As you level, the price of learning your abilities goes up and can become quite costly. (At level 28 I paid over 70,000 gold for my new abilities).

Once you have bought your skill manual, it will appear as a book in your inventory (Hit I to access your inventory). Double click the book, and that skill will be learned. You can then press the letter K on your keyboard, and it will bring up a list of all of your skills. You can find your new skills and drag and drop them into your skill bar at the bottom of your screen:

Don’t worry, gold is plentiful in this game, and easily acquired. If you manage your gold right, you will have no trouble. If you do find yourself needing more, there are options to receive gold through the in-game mailing system. All you have to do is ask a friend for gold and they can attach it to mail and send it to your in-game mailbox (found at most major cities, in game). Gold is not hard to acquire through Grinding (Killing NPC enemies), either. There are also other options like selling items you have acquired via the Trade Broker (also found in major cities), or general goods merchants.

Like with many other games of this type, you can learn professions. Along with the professions, you can also Gather, which eventually evolves into Extraction. You begin gathering different plants/herbs. As you level, you receive the ability to extract the essence of an item, rather than the item itself, called Extract Vitality. After that comes Aether extraction, which is extracting from the sky (you must fly and risk falling to your death if you are not careful). I suggest leveling these things as you go. Many people say that it is not important, so I did not bother with it at first. When I reached level 20 I realized that many of the NPC’s gave quests to gather/extract an item and bring it to them. I skipped many quests and they add up! I spent many hours going back to level my gathering/extraction. Major setback, but I’m glad I did it. Definitely do this as you go.

Leveling solo is very do-able until level 20+. You will begin receiving quests that require a group. They will have the [group] prefix, letting you know to not even attempt to do the quest without more people to help. These are the most fun for me. You get to interact with other players and become an important part of the other players success. Very few of the quests you acquire are [group] quests, however they offer such great rewards, that they can’t afford to be skipped. Aion offers a LFG (Looking for Group) chat channel, which makes it easy to find people to group with.

Grouping is used for [Group] quests and instances. You can join the “LFG” Chat channel and ask for more people to help with your quest. Usually typed in this format: “Level 31 Chanter LFG Legendary Amethysts. PST (please send tell, which is just a whisper.). You will hopefully get some responses and from there, can invite people to your group (right click their name and select “invite to group”).. rinse and repeat.

One of the most menacing problems for MMO’s are the gold spammers (Those who want to sell you gold – it’s illegal, but people do buy so it keeps the gold spammers running rampant). They spam the chat with their links and make it hard for you to read any conversation going on between your legion or group. One easy fix to this is to create a new chat tab, and customize the options to allow only chat from your legion or group. To do this, open chat and right click on one of the tabs. From there you can choose “Add Tab”. Name it, and customize tab options. Voila!

At level 20. you can acquire “Stigmas”, which are basically extra abilities that you can receive that can separate one of the same class from the other. There are many stigmas that one class can choose, and that’s what makes me (one chanter) different from another. You must complete a quest to enable you to equip stigmas, but after that as you level, you will acquire more stigma slots. To view your current stigma slots, press “P” and select the Stigma tab.

Stigmas can be acquired from quests, NPC drops, or bought from the trade broker. Some are more rare than others. Each stigma requires stigma shards (can be acquired in the abyss from NPC enemies) to equip, and can only be equipped by a stigma master.

The next milestone is level 25. This is when you receive your “Abyss Entry Quest”, which is quite long, but very easy. Once you complete this quest, you gain entry access into the Abyss – the main PvP area. During the quest, you have to pick which area of your world you will access the Abyss from. Once you pick, you can enter the abyss by flying to the portal in the sky only in that area.

The Abyss offers many things, and has beautiful graphics. It offers many high experience/pay/item reward quests, and of course, it offers PvP. The Abyss can be very overwhelming at first. When you enter the Abyss, you are in a safe zone. There is an Aetheric Field around this area that prevents any enemy from penetrating. Once you venture out, you can collect quests, grind abyss enemies for high experience and abyss points (Points collected in the Abyss that when enough are acquired, you can get special items), and PvP.

Venturing out into the abyss requires flight. You can teleport to some areas, but you will have to fly a lot. There are flight rings that you will find between certain areas that you can fly through to gain flight time. You can refer to the bar at the bottom right of your screen to monitor your flight time drain. If you strafe through the rings, you can refill your bar quickly. There are also potions that increase flight time, along with equipment perks.

The ultimate goal of the Abyss is to capture fortresses from the opposing faction. I have no experience in this, but a month into the game, people are already doing it. You can see which fortresses are owned by which faction by pressing “M” to bring up the map and refer to the color key.

PvP is the most exciting feature for some MMO players. I like a little bit of both PvP and PvE. As I said before, when venturing out into the Abyss, you will run into an enemy from the opposing faction. They will appear on your radar as red diamonds, and when you are close enough to them to actually see them, their name will appear in red. They will have a rank (ie Rank 7 soldier), which is in reference to their abyss points. The lower their rank the more abyss experience they have, so beware of going against anyone too much lower than you. You are also unable to see the opposing faction’s level. Some like it this way, some don’t. Personally, I think it adds an interesting twist and requires a bit more strategy when approaching an enemy. To view your Abyss points/ranking press “P” and hit the “Abyss” tab:

As I continue to level, I learn more and more about the game. I do not have anything to compare the game to (first RPG), but I not only experience nothing but good things, I also hear good things, for the most part. The graphics are probably the best part of this game. They are absolutely beautiful. The storyline is interesting to follow, and it isn’t a total grind-fest to level. The pace is good, and the Abyss is fun.

Aion, like any other MMO (from what I’m told) has it’s problems. There are gold spammers and bots. The game has been out for a month in the US, and so far the development team has been working hard to keep them at bay. I’m not sure they will ever be totally rid of them, but I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

There are many guides for Aion out there, all of this content was written by me. All screen shots were taken in – game by me. Some sources were used for the storyline.

Very, VERY well-written and detailed guide, Becca! Thanks so much for sending this in. I have a feeling several of our gamer Geeks are now salivating to get their hands on Aion!

Is This the Ultimate Game Controller?

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I met up with Cyrus while I was at PAX recently. He demonstrated for me (and all of you) what could possibly be the coolest, most uber-ultimate game controller ever! Imagine never having to pick up and hold a controller again, or mash keys on your poor, overworked keyboard. Imagine, if you will, that all you have to do is slip on a glove.

The Peregrine Glove gives you the power to control your game with the touch of a finger – literally. There’s no need to have to look down at a keyboard, or fumble for the correct keystrokes. Your game is now a part of you.

You can perform over 30 unique actions simply by touching your fingers, your palm or your thumb. Cyrus claims that it’s not as difficult to get used to as you would think. He demonstrated the Peregrine Glove while playing a game he’s been running for about four years. He said after probably 20 minutes, he had the basic hang of things. And, in under two hours he was playing like a pro using only the Peregrine Glove!

Free yourself from the constraints of cumbersome mice and keyboards when you’re playing your favorite game. Get rid of mis-strokes during a battle. Just touch your fingers together, and you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without this in your life.

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