Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bioware's Mass Effect 3 Due in March

Mass Effect 3 won’t be out for another eight months, but people are already talking about it. Fans can’t wait for the next edition of Bioware’s famous space RPG series.

The tentative release date for Commander Shepard’s next adventure is March 6, 2012. The game will be available for the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 and the PC.

This week, Bioware marketing chief David Silverman gave out a few details about Mass Effect 3 during an interview with

"We're making Mass Effect 3 to be the best game we've ever made. That would make it one of the best games ever, and we're hoping to see sales that reflect that," he said.

Silverman described Mass Effect 3 as “HBO meets Star Wars.” He said that he would feel "a bit weird if five-year-olds were playing Mass Effect" because of the mature, HBO-like themes found within the game; however, there are many Star Wars-like elements tied into the game as well.

Silverman went on to say that even if gamers have never played the previous two Mass Effect titles, they will still be able to enjoy the new edition.

"What we're trying to do with Mass Effect 3 is that it's a new beginning for the series," he said, "given the fact this is the beginning of an all-out war with this ancient alien race. We've been foreshadowing this war with this race that's been dormant for 50,000 years. Well now they've finally woken up, launching their full-scale invasion and trying to wipe out all life as we know it. It's a natural point for people to jump in."

When questioned about whether or not this would be the only “prequel” title in the Mass Effect series, Silverman responded saying, "This series definitely doesn't end with Mass Effect 3."

Silverman also discussed Bioware’s strategy to cater to fans who like choose-your-own-adventure games, while also appealing to fans who crave the all-out action side of gaming.

"We want to make sure we're pleasing both audiences," he told "One of the things we have on the team is to make this an amazing entry point, but also to acknowledge our roots.”

"We don't want to totally dumb it down for the people who have played through the first two games three, four, five times. We've really struck a great balance. Obviously, if you've played the game before, you'll see things that apply to you."

Silverman was straightforward about how Mass Effect 3 should play for gamers. "[A] giant alien race launches all-out war, you have to rally the forces of the universe to counter and see if you can take them down," he said. "That's pretty clear. You don't need to be like: 'Well, what about when I had this love affair?' It's like, who cares? It's all-out war!"

Bioware should be careful not to downplay the RPG side of Mass Effect 3 too much though. With the sequel of Bioware’s Dragon Age, fans were incredibly angry about the downplay of RPG within the game. During the interview with, Silverman seemed to avoid any questions concerning the RPG side of the latest edition of Mass Effect.

"On the one hand, we don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole where Shepard starts rolling dice, but on the other hand we don't want to ignore that coolness—where people can customize parts of their character and making them feel that it's them in the adventure," he said.

"It's not, 'Let's make a game without story and a bunch of shooting.' It's not about that. People tell us we're amazing storytellers and we hope we are. We can't give you all-out galactic war by cheaping out on the action. It needs to feel like an epic war against insurmountable odds. That's what makes the story even more emotionally engaging.”

"I think the game's definitely set up for that. It's really going to strike a great balance."

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EA Not Dropping Support for Steam

EA Origin

Many of you in the gaming community have probably already heard of, or become a part of, EA's new game download service known as Origin. Origin works the same way as the extremely popular download service Steam does, allowing users to purchase game titles online and download them instantly to their PCs without ever having to leave the house. You don't have any discs to worry about scratching or losing and no game box to go out and pick up, making acquiring the newest PC games that much easier.

However, with the introduction of Origin, many gamers began to worry about EA dropping support for Steam. Not too long after Origin was announced, Crysis 2 was pulled from Steam shelves, becoming unavailable to download. Many people were wondering if this would become a mainstay for EA and asked if the company would be pulling all EA games off of the service in an attempt to get gamers to use Origin.

However, in a recent investor call, CEO of Electronic Arts John Riccitiello bragged about the amazingness of Origin and pointed out the fact that the margins, which is the amount of money EA makes, on each game sale are 100% if the game is bought through Origin. But that's obvious. However, despite being head over heels for Origin, Riccitiello did make it clear that EA games would continue to become available on Steam and other download services.

According to Riccitiello, "We are pushing EA content on any and every platform we can. We love what we're getting with Origin, but we are very keen to get our content distributed anywhere where gamers are."

However, that does not mean that every single EA game will be available on these other services. One such game, in addition to Crysis 2, is Dragon Age 2. This game has apparently been pulled from Steam. As of right now, it is impossible to acquire the game from Steam, though it is unclear if that will change in the future. However, it does seem that the reason for the game's absence is not a conflict with Origin.

According to sources gathered from Destructoid, the game may have been pulled as a result of the recently launched "Legacy" DLC. According to Destructoid, "Our sources indicate that EA was offering the content by way of an in-game store, which may be a violation of the latest version of Steam's terms of service. If this is the case, EA and BioWare would have to re-write parts of the game software just for Steam, simply to conform with Valve's standards. It's possible that EA's refusal to do so may have led to Valve yanking the title entirely."

I am a user of both Steam and Origin and I can tell you that both sites are very well done. The one thing Steam has going for it is that it offers more than just EA games, whereas Origin only releases games made by EA and partner studios. If you are a fan of anything EA makes and you much prefer digital downloads, I suggest you get in on Origin, otherwise you may be left out of some really great games.

Source: G4 - Electronic Arts Games Will Continue to Appear On Steam

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Sony Exec Describes PlayStation Network Outage as "A Great Experience"

On Wednesday, July 13 Tim Schaaff, the president of Sony Network Entertainment, was discussing the PlayStation Network outage that lasted four weeks. During the chat, he proceeded to describe the outage as a “great experience.” Sound crazy to you? Well, here is his justification for the comment.

On Wednesday Schaaff sat down with the executive editor of VentureBeat Dylan Tweney for a chat at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco. They discussed a variety of things, but Tweney received surprising answers to his questions concerning how Sony has been able to recover from the outage of its Network.

"We're back online, everything's live again around the world, and the amazing thing through all of this is that the customers have all come back, and network performance is better than ever, sales are better than ever, and we've been very, very pleasantly surprised by the experience," Schaaff said. "And we're in a place where we're really looking forward again to what's next, what's new, and how we can keep growing the network. It's a pretty crazy event that we went through but we survived, and we're back strong, and ready to go."

During the discussion, Schaaff confirmed that more than 77 million PlayStation Network accounts were without service for a total of six weeks. He also said that the outage cost Sony close to $171 million plus the complete frustration of millions of Playstation Network customers.

"It's dramatic but the lesson we learned from this process is that there are some crazy things going on in the world right now, and in the beginning we were very concerned that we were the focal point for this attack, and it was all about Sony, and what was Sony doing," Schaaff said. “But over time, the company learned that a wide variety of sites had been hit, including government institutions and other companies.”

He went on to say that he believes that Sony has learned some valuable lessons from the outage.

"I think for people running network businesses, it's not just about improving your security, because I've never talked to a security expert who said, 'As long you do the following three things you'll be fine, because hackers won't get you…', the question is how do you build your life so you're able to cope with those things," Schaaff said.

He concluded saying, "It's been a great experience.”

Tweney seemed to be as confused as you and I most likely are about this statement. "A great experience?" he asked. "A great experience," Schaaff answered. "I would not like to do it again. One time was enough. Great learning experience."

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bungie Says A Heartfelt Farewell to Halo

Bungie 20th Anniversary

Bungie is singing the sad song of goodbye as the company parts ways with its flagship franchise, Halo, which is being taken over by internal Microsoft studio 343 Industries. In an open letter to fans that was posted on, the developer expressed its thanks to fans for their devotion to the franchise. This letter also marks the end of Bungie's 20th anniversary celebrations which have been a truly heartfelt celebration of the Halo franchise.

Eric "urk" Osborne, Community Manager for Bungie, wrote, "Halo is yours now. In many ways, it always has been. Its new caretakers will strive, just as we did, to be worthy stewards but you have the package. Hold these characters and stories and worlds to the same unflinching standards you did while we were at the helm, but allow them all to blossom and change and grow in the ways that they must."

The letter pays tribute to the dedication and passion of the fans and restates that all the proceeds from the 20th Anniversary activities will be donated to charity. The end of the letter gets a tad bit emotional as well. "One day, we will awaken to a wondrous new place and we will remember just what it was that drew us together at the beginning of it all. We will look up to the heavens and find hope."

Osborne also teased in the letter about Bungie's next project as prepares to relaunch. According to Osborne, "We'll be undergoing a metamorphosis of our own. Very soon will change, culminating with the launch of our next universe at some unknown time in the future."

"Afterwards, we'll be going dark on our studio's next major endeavor - the creation of a brand new universe. You'll have a home here should you choose to stay, but our next project demands an unwavering focus. We owe it to ourselves to make something better then we have before. We owe it to you, as well."

While it is a sad day for Halo fans in terms of Bungie's departure from the franchise, it is a good day due to the fact that the company isn't going anywhere in terms of making video games. Whatever this new project is, I'm sure it will be just as good as Halo if not better. Farewell Bungie, you did us proud.

Source: IGN - Bungie's Halo Send-Off

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Live TV Coming to Xbox

One of the biggest announcements for Microsoft at this year’s E3 gaming conference involved the launch of Live TV on the Xbox 360. This will allow users to enjoy a variety of different things including live TV streaming, built-in DVR capabilities, voice-powered Bing searches and YouTube content.

"Quite simply we believe TV is more amazing with you as the controller," said Marc Whitten, vice president of Xbox Live.

The amazing thing about these new additions to the Xbox is that users will be able to control them with motion. The Kinect will help to power Live TV with both gestures and voice controlled commands. Users will be able to control Live TV content without the need for a physical remote.

It was also announced by Whitten that Bing would be featured on the Xbox as well. Users will be able to conduct voice powered searches on Microsoft’s Bing search engine and different Xbox content like Hulu Plus, Netflix and Xbox Live marketplace.

Here’s an example of how this will work: Say you want to watch Lord of the Rings. All you have to say is “Xbox Bing Lord of the Rings.” Immediately, Bing will pull up any Lord of the Rings related games as well as any movies stored on your console. Then all you have to do to watch The Fellowship of the Ring is say “Xbox Play The Fellowship of the Ring” and the movie will start playing.

Whitten also announced the new partnership with YouTube that will give users access to the top YouTube content from the console. Microsoft also said that they plan to greatly increase the number of its Xbox partnerships this year.

Lastly, Whitten confirmed that Live TV will bring local channels live-streamed to your Xbox to your TV.

Live TV will launch in the fall, Whitten said.

"This is our vision for the future of TV—effortless, approachable, because TV is more amazing when you are the controller," he said.

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Most business class projectors will do a good job displaying your PowerPoint presentation. If you have a small presentation group, a 2000 lumen LCD projector will be able to produce a nice and clear picture. For larger audiences you should consider a 5000 lumen LCD projector.