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    February 4, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Channel F

    Via Fast Company

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    February 2, 2015
    Sony Sells Online Gaming Arm

    One of the most venerable names in online gaming is Sony.  Oddly enough, Sony’s the company behind one of the most enduring online games ever:  Everquest.  It’s been an enduring cash cow for Sony, but eventually all cows go dry.  Or, in this case, all cows get sold.  Sony has sold Sony Online Entertainment.  Now, Sony’s online games are no longer Sony’s; the new owner of SOE is an investment firm called Columbus Nova, who has renamed the game studio Daybreak Game Company.  Apparently, the only changes the company plans to make are positive ones.

    “This name embodies who we are as an organization, and is a nod to the passion and dedication of our employees and players.  It is also representative of our vision to approach each new day as an opportunity to move gaming forward,” reads a post.  ”It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation.  In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition.”

    So,  not only will Sony’s properties continue to function without change, the company plans on expanding its reach.  That’s right, the former SOE is now going to also be developing games for Microsoft’s XBox One console!

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    January 28, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Retro Return

    Via BBC

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    October 10, 2014
    Tracking Trends: Words With Friends

    It’s been five amazing years for Words With Friends, Zynga’s flagship word game and one of the best approximations of Scrabble you can get your hands on these days.  I’m a big fan of the game (and feel free to start a game with me) and while I’m not the best WWF player, I’m very enthusiastic and have anywhere from 5 to 10 games going at any one time.  I must not be alone, because Zynga has released a lot of fun facts about just how much people love their word game.

    There have been 58 billion words played in the game, with players running up 1.2 trillion points.  In the 7.7 million games played, 217 billion letters have been used.  Amazingly, there are 5,478 words that have only been used once (though I’m sure that’s going to chance now that people know the words are out there).  The most popular words are qi, it, he, re, and jo.

    Now, if  you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go.  I’ve got several games waiting on me, and I’m itching to try out my new letters.

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    April 16, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The Eternal NES

    Image via 1nflatable-hammers.

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    March 27, 2014
    My Dream Tablet Game

    I’m enjoying my Kindle Fire even now, and aside from reading and watching videos on it, the thing I use it for most is gaming.  I played a bunch of The Simpsons: Tapped Out until the file ate my game and destroyed my little yellow community of friends.  I play some Injustice: Gods Among Us, the DC fighting game featuring all your favorite Batman villains.  I’ve even played some Sonic The Hedgehog courtesy of a free app I got off the Amazon store.  That’s all well and good, but I have a dream game that I would love to play on my tablet:  Diablo II

    I miss having a computer on which to play Diablo II, and I worry that it wouldn’t play nicely with my laptop considering it’s not meant to run on Windows 7.  I have enough trouble with Fallout III, to the point where I don’t even bother to really play it anymore because it is so non-cooperative even in compatibility mode.  However, I’m pretty sure you could get Diablo or some other roguelike onto a tablet with no problem aside from finger cramps from obsessive tapping.

    What say you?  What classic video game of your youth would you love to have on your tablet or smartphone for those boring moments when you’re stuck waiting in line and the idea of starting yet another game of Words With Friends is enough to make you want to break down sobbing?

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    March 19, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The New Xbox 3600

    Image via Destructoid

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    March 11, 2014
    Titanfall Needs 48GB Of PC Drive Space

    I’m not the biggest PC gamer, but I’m used to games needing 2 or 3 GB of space to install and execute themselves properly.  I mean, that’s not a huge deal anymore, considering the smallest hard drives out there are still a good 60 to 90 GB.  However, there’s a limit to just how much people are willing to devote to a game, and when it comes to the new fighting robot game Titanfall, the limit might have been reached.  As it turns out, Titanfall needs a staggering 48GB of hard drive space depending on your settings.  However, it’s not the graphics or the size of the game itself that’s causing the problems:  it’s the tunes, man.

    “When you download the game or the disc itself, it’s a lot smaller than that.  So… it’s almost all audio… On a higher PC it wouldn’t be an issue.  On a medium or moderate PC, it wouldn’t be an issue, it’s that on a two-core [machine] with where our min spec is, we couldn’t dedicate those resources to audio,” said Respawn head engineer Richard Baker.

    As it turns out, to get the game to play best on low-spec systems, it needs to install a lot of uncompressed music files, and those files add up in a hurry.  Of course, why they needed uncompressed audio files when more compressed or a lossless file format might work out a little better is curious, but I’m not a game designer and I’m sure there’s a very logical reason for needing a huge chunk of hard drive space for sounds.

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    February 13, 2014
    Classic Video Games As Romance Novels

    You see that fake book cover up there, Hungry For Love?  Does that look familiar?  Two yellow-clad people, a field of white dots in front of them…?  That’s right, it’s Pac Man (and Ms. Pac-Man) re-imagined as a couple on the cover of a romance novel.  In fact, Kotaku has a whole series of classic video game romance novel covers, and they’re all pretty spectacular.

    The images are cool (and the games are all genuine classics), but they key to making the covers work are the little details.  For example, on the Super Mario Brothers-inspired cover, the disappointed Luigi in the background makes it all work.  On the above Pac-Man cover, my favorite part isn’t the big white pellets standing in for rail decorations, it’s the maze in the background.  Even better, it’s green, so that’s pretty accurate.

    However, the one most accurately representing the video game is the cover for Duck Hunt.  I think anyone who has played that game before has taken aim and tried to shoot that laughing dog.  I know he spent a lot of time in my crosshairs when I was a kid.  Nice to see that made the jump into the fun cover images.

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    February 12, 2014
    Beware Faux Flappy Bird

    All it takes is one dedicated coder to create a game.  Such is the case of Dong Nguyen, the guy who stole a bunch of Super Mario World graphics to create one of the most addictive games in the world right now, Flappy Bird.  From nothing to overnight viral sensation, Flappy Bird got so big that Nguyen decided to pull the game from the market, citing concerns about its addictive nature (and no doubt due to potential threats from Nintendo about his stolen sprites).  When the market finds a gap, it fills it.  Without Flappy Bird, other games are stepping in to take its place, but more worryingly, malware-infested versions of Flappy Bird are showing up in third party app stores.

    Both Sophos and Trend Micro are telling users to beware of any Flappy Bird apps on third-party Android stores.  Apparently, using the compromised Flappy Bird runs up some potentially massive cell phone charges due to texting premium numbers; in addition to that, it also causes information leak because so much of what you do on your phone can be sent back to the compromised servers.  Apparently some compromised Flappy Birds installs can get email address, name, phone number, and even cell phone carrier.  Other Flappy Birds force users to pay to play after a certain amount of time, turning a free game into a premium game without benefiting the actual creator.

    Said Trend Micro, “All of the fake versions we’ve seen so far are Premium Service Abusers — apps that send messages to premium numbers, thus causing unwanted charges to victims’ phone billing statements.  As seen below, the fake Flappy Bird app asks for the additional read/send text messages permissions during installation — one that is not required in the original version.  And while the user is busy playing the game, this malware stealthily connects to a C&C server through Google Cloud Messaging to receive instructions.  Our analysis of the malware revealed that through this routine, the malware sends text messages and hides the notifications of received text messages with certain content.”

    So if you have Flappy Bird, play without fear.  If you didn’t get your flap on before the game was pulled from servers, it’s probably not a good idea to go looking for an after-market version of the game.

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