Sunday, December 23

Dead Space 3 Achievement Points List

dea space 3

So when you get your hands on Dead Space 3 you might what to think about these achievement points -There's Always Peng! makes a return and given the game now has a co-op element, there's a few points that you'll only achieve by doing just that!

Dead Space 360 Achievement Points

Get On My Level (10 points) - Complete the game on any difficulty setting.
The Explorer (25 points) - Complete all optional missions.
Aren't You Thankful? (50 points) - Complete the game on Hardcore Mode.
Epic Tier 4 Engineer (40 points) - Complete the game in Classic Mode.
Survivalist (40 points) - Complete the game in Pure Survival Mode.
Gun Collector (25 points) - Collect all Weapon Parts.
The Professor (25 points) - Collect all Artifacts.
The Librarian (25 points) - Collect all Logs.
The Armorer (25 points) - Collect all Circuits.
There's Always Peng! (50 points) - Find Peng.
My Buddy (10 points) - Retrieve Resources from a Scavenger Bot at a Bench.
Metal Detector (30 points) - Successfully deploy Scavenger Bots to 15 Resource Areas.
Strapped (10 points) - Craft a Weapon.
Circuit's Edge (10 points) - Add a Circuit to a Weapon.
EMT (25 points) - Craft a Large Med Pack.
Full House (25 points) - Craft a Weapon with 2 Tools, Tips, and Attachments with all Circuit slots filled.
RIG Master (50 points) - Fully upgrade your RIG.
Master Plan (25 points) - Create a Blueprint that needs at least 2000 resources worth of parts and Circuits to build.
From the Jaws (10 points) - Save your Co-Op partner from an execution by killing the attacker.
Share and Share Alike (10 points) - Use the RIG to give an item to your Co-Op partner.
Medic! (10 points) - Revive your Co-Op partner 10 times.
Ghosts of the Past (25 points) - Face all of Carver’s demons by completing all Co-Op only optional missions.
Architect (10 points) - Share a Blueprint with your Co-Op partner.
Axes High (20 points) - Kill 30 enemies using Fodder axes.
Payback (15 points) - Kill a Soldier by TK'ing a grenade or rocket back at them.
Go for the Limbs! (10 points) - Dismember 500 limbs from living enemies.
And Then We Doubled It! (10 points) - Dismember 1000 limbs from living enemies.
Slow Mo (10 points) - Kill 50 enemies while they are in stasis.
Blast Corps (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies with explosion damage.
Shootbang (10 points) - Kill 30 Soldiers with head shots.
Empty Chamber (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies using melee strikes or a melee Weapon Part.
Dropping Acid (10 points) - Dissolve 50 enemies with acid.
Electric Lawnmower (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies using an electrified Ripper blade.
Overpowered Healing (10 points) - Use quick heal to heal yourself 20 times.

Unused armor abilities found in Halo 4 code

Unused armor abilities found in Halo 4 code - check this video of a mod using the codes in action.

Lord Zedd has discovered a couple of Armor Abilities that were not included in the final version of Halo 4 - a teleportation trick and a magical blue spell which removes whatever armour ability you foe has presented you with. Probably didn't make the final cut due to not being totttallly awesome fits with the game....

Thursday, December 13

Halo: Reach Redefined

master chief with reach toothbrush
Even a Spartan needs to clean his teeth. 
I found this picture of the Chief on 9gag this morning - certainly gives Reach a new edge eh?

Sunday, December 9

Tips and Tricks to take down a Promethean Knight from Halo 4

knight halo chief artwork
The Chief ignored this guide at his peril...
The best ways to take down a Promethean Knight from Halo 4

Originally published at Post Game Lobby

It's my humble opinion that never has the Halo universe faced a foe that is so difficult to take down as a Promethean Knight. 

My take is that basically the Knights are the new “Elite” for the Halo franchise but have magical transportation powers and dude that hovers over their shoulder with a light shield when things get a bit too heavy. Did I mention they also an auto sentry just to add into the mix?

Playing Halo 4 can be quite daunting on Heroic and Legendary modes, particularly near the end of the campaign where Knight numbers seem to crank up. If you’re the kind of player that likes to stand their ground and kill everything in sight, here’s some tips on taking out the Knights.

Up Close and Personal

The scattershot is a wonder weapon. Three or four well place shots with the scattershot will likely turn your foe into a cloud of yellow digital ash. Shotguns are nearly as effective. The drawback is that Knights have a melee that make’s a Hunter’s melee feel like a soothing Thai massage.

Fear the Pink Mist

In what almost feels like a cheap shot, a well-placed volley of pink mist will drop the shields of a Knight very well. A follow up death shot with a Light Rifle or BR will finish the job.

Light Rifles and other comparable weapons.

A barrage of light rifle headshots will eventually take out the Knight. Having a BR to add more firepower is almost crucial.  To make an effective use of this strategy, your shots must be head shots other wise it will take forever to kill your foe.

A combo of a pistol and a light rifle is pretty useful too – a fully charged plasma blast will help lower Ivanhoe’s shields, leaving you free to follow up with a headshot from your BR or Light Rifle. 

And so I creep

Sneaking up on an enemy to land a melee punch to the back of the next is a classic Halo move. You can apply this to the Knight by firmly holding down the RB button and you will be rewarded with a pretty cool assassination animation. You could also try using a Halogram* to trick the Knight by drawing his attention, thus giving you an opportunity to creep up and go all Black Hawk on his ass.

There are plenty of other ways to take kill Promethean knights, the above tips and tricks are just a few of the ways you can take them down efficiently. Using grenades and some of the other weapons in the sand box are options. I find a well-placed rail gun blast to the body of a Knight very satisfying. 

You can always use the sword as well!

* that was a typo which I've left in as a terrible pun. 

Tuesday, November 27

Bungie release Destiny screen shot after a leak


Woah! Finally an official thing from Bungie on their new game, Destiny.

Following a massive leak of images and details to IGN gaming site, Bungie responded with an official release of this screen shot stating:

"Go ahead. Take a peek. It’s alright. We weren't quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can’t wait to finally show you what we've really been up to.
Stick around, we haven’t even started yet."

The screenshot shows an awesomely curved tank / battle gun of some kind, foot soldiers bearing arms and a landscape setting that appears to be er... snowbound.

Tuesday, November 20

Casey asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel?

Bioware's Casey Hudson asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel? 

The correct answer is:

*no further correspondence will be entered into on this matter

A look at how Halo 4's environment was designed

Polycount has a sweet article with Halo 4's Environment Creators which gives a fantastic insight into the development of the game. If you've played the game, I'm sure you'll agree they did an amazing job.


What you’re about to read is a very generous peek into the work of some of the Game Industry’s strongest Environment Creators doing what they do best: Dropping Jaws and Melting Faces. Some protective gear is recommended. Please observe all emergency exits. We cannot be responsible for any messes that occur, or any injuries sustained through wild head turns and furious image saving.

We had some enormous challenges; Building a new team from nothing, charging through the growing pains of a new studio, wrestling with unfamiliar and unsupported technology, learning to work together for the first time, and taking over a beloved universe and all the world wide scrutiny that came with it. Any one of these things would have crippled a normal studio. Not us. We took our share of bruises, but we stepped over the finish line ‘better, faster, stronger’ than a decade of normal development would have awarded us.

The environment team, on top of simply making great imagery, also took on the role of storytellers. It doesn’t just show, it feels. Engaging the goopy, sloppiest part of the players parietal lobes and making the universe a reality, immersing the player in a deep felt experience. The art is emotional, it resonates with story and imagination, it silently speaks to you.

This is art focused, but salutes need to be thrown at the talented teams who fought dragons and the laws of physics to squeeze out more polygons and pixels, who gave us every technical advantage possible, who held our hair back when it was too much. The Xbox didn’t know what hit it.

This team is not made of Steel. It’s made of the crazy strong shit you hire to hunt Steel when Steel messes up and needs to be returned to Steel Justice.

You can probably tell – I’m very proud of this team.
Kenneth Scott,  Senior Art Director


For the first mission of the game the general theme of the industrial design was “space submarine.” We wanted to achieve a functional aesthetic for the UNSC environments.  After the catastrophic damage sustained to the Forward Unto Dawn at the end of Halo 3, and after floating in outer space for over three years, the majority of the remains of the ship were left a frozen, shattered hulk. For the mission itself we wanted it to be cold and claustrophobic; piles of frost have accumulated in the cryogenics section of the ship; ceilings have caved in and some areas of the ship have lost atmospheric pressure.  The environments would also get progressively more damaged as the ship was sucked into the forerunner planet Requiem. The cool color palette would  give way to warmer tones as the events of the mission increased in intensity, culminating in an exciting start to the rest of the campaign.
Paul Pepera, Lead Mission Artist

Thursday, November 15

The best ever Leeloo cosplay?


I spied this at Scruffy Rebel wondered if it was the best Leeloo cosplay ever done. For those that don't recognise this bright haired beauty, she was a key character in the film The Fifth Element.  Leeloo was played by Milla Jocovich who has gone on to become a one woman army in the Resident Evil series.

Don't agree this is the best cosplay ever? Check out more Leeloo costumes at Post Game Lobby.

Halo 4 stats - you better finish your Legendary run eh?

Now that the evil has awakened and been out in the wild for a week, here's some statistics on how Halo 4 has been played. They are pretty impressive, for any kind of video game.

  • Over four million people played Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.
  • 13.5 million hours were spent playing Campaign in the first five days.
  • 1.9 million hours were spent playing Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 16 million hours were spent playing War Games in the first five days.
  • 31.4 million hours were spent playing Halo 4 in the first five days.
  • 1,116,882 people completed the Campaign in the first five days.
  • 6% of total players completed the Campaign on Legendary in the first five days.
  • 43,335,060 achievements were unlocked in the first five days.
  • 2,675,140,836 kills were earned in Campaign in the first five days.
  • 505,250,095 kills were earned in Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 1,410,025,354 kills were earned in War Games in the first five days.
  • 4,590,416,285 kills were earned playing Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.

Source: Halo Waypoint

Check out this review of Halo 6.

Bad luck Diadact

As spied on Reddit.

Tuesday, November 13

Xbox Live's 10 Year anniversary will make some punters VERY HAPPY


Larry has suggested via twitter that long term xbox live users might be in for a free xbox to celebrate the 10 Year anniversary of the gaming service. Larry also hinted there might be a competition for everyone else to win some Xbox swag as well. 

Monday, November 12

The first Halo 4 mythbusters video is out

Mythbusters for Halo 4 is out now for your view pleasure. Not sure how a Mantis riding a Scorpion makes for great game play but there you go.....

Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

I think this picture is of some rabid Mass Effect fans doing cosplay of the Montreal staff.
Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

Yanick Roy the Studio Director of BioWare Montreal has formally announced on the Bioware blog that his studio is where the magic will happen for the next Mass Effect game. You'll be able to judge if they'll be any good as they are the team that did the Omega DLC.

Here's some clipped paragraphs from what he had to say:

Because BioWare has always believed that the company culture is one of the key ingredients of the games we make, we took two important steps with the team. First, we deliberately seeded the new studio with many transfers from Edmonton. Second, we chose to grow the team relatively slowly, allowing new people to join the team and integrate into its culture in due time. Even with that approach, though, the Montreal studio has made significant contributions to the Mass Effect franchise. We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content. 

Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega. With each new portion of work, we took on deeper and broader responsibilities, but we always worked in conjunction with Casey, the Mass Effect leads, and the developers in Edmonton.

That evolution now takes its next step, with the news that the next Mass Effect game is already in development, driven by the team here in Montreal. This is the goal we have been working toward for years now, and every member of our team is proud, excited, and humbled to take on the responsibility for the next game.

To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.

Sunday, November 11

How to grenade glitch in Halo 4

This video by the Halo Council's Clicked shows you how to glitch your way to more accurate grenade throwing in Halo 4 matchmaking.

How do you do the glitch? Simply aim, throw the grenade and then sprint.

Friday, November 9

Where are Halo 4's easter eggs found?

What are the Easter Eggs that can be found in Halo 4

You know what an easter egg is right? No? In gaming terms and Easter Egg is a nod of some kind, a hidden message, an in joke or reference. Bungie placed eggs in all of their Halo games, the most famous perhaps being a piece of music called The Seige of Madgril' which can be found when standing in certain, out of the way locations.

Here's what 343 Industries put into Halo 4 and how to find them.

Here's a sweet video which shows plenty of eggs:

Dr Halsey's Audi Log on Rampancy

As you first land on Requiem, you will come across a crash site of Covenant Cruisers. If one keeps to the left long enough one will find the way out. Those who chose to explore the site are rewarded with an audio log of Dr. Catherine Halsey discussing the inevitability of A.I. rampancy or rather how perhaps Cortana might be able to over come the issue. Halsey was the lady in handcuffs at the start of the game - she's the one who created the Spartan programme.

Check out this youtube video to hear Halsey speak.

Here’s quite a cool easter egg that was recently found in Halo 4.

A set of doors have a false reflection, in that they show some scenes from Tsavo Highway which keen Halo players may recognise from the third game of the series.

Spartans burnt into the wall

After the Master Chief exits the covenant crash site and steps into the sunlight, a mountain path littered with Warthogs extends out to the left Look to the right instead - edge of the cliffs stands an outcropping of rock with a rather unusual tree and a metal framework.

Manoevure to the lower ledge at which point you may look up at what appears to be a series of burn marks across the structure. You'll see what could be a Spartan portrait.

Double Rainbow

Following completion of the first section of the ‘Reclaimer’ mission, the Mammoth will traverse a river nearby a waterfall. When the Mammoth halts, check out the double rainbow.

Conan O'Brien does a voice cameo

Conan did some early promo work for Halo 4 - an no wonder as he managed to get himself included in the game. On the Shutdown mission, Conan can be found as a soldier chatting about being in the military in the UNSC warehouse. The other soldier is Andy Richter.

Master Chief Helmet as a structure on a building

On the first mission, at the part when you're outside in space, this building looks a little like the Master Chief's Helmet:

I took this picture with my iphone in a dark room so the quality is poor. 

Halo 4 Collectors edition found on the floor of the Foward Unto Dawn

On the FUD, check out the floor in the area where the Covenant board - you'll spy in the floor a copy of the Collector's edition of Halo 4 - that's very meta.

Suggested eggs but don't really count

Sergeant Johnson Egg on Shutdown level.

This is the dude and it doesn't look like Avery. At all. 
If you kill a lot of marines in the hanger bay that houses the Pelicans, eventually a black marine will spawn. Some claim this is Sergeant Johnson but frankly it looks nothing like him.

Halo 3 Launch Trailer  - note haven't checked this one out yet. 

In the prologue cinematic there is a brief shot where the Master Chief takes down a Brute Chieftan. That is apparently following on from the end of the Halo 3 launch trailer where Master Chief jumps into a pack of heavily armed Brutes.

Vic Deleon's V's in Spartan Op's Sniper Alley

 Level Artist for the Halo series, Vic Deleon placed a few scratched out 'V' into the Sniper Alley Spartan Ops mission. The V is presumably his initial.

Follow Vic on twitter here

JJ Reviews: Halo 4

Spoilers !

The Big Green Guy
Halo 4. You may have heard of it?

Despite the game being illegal to offer for sale on opening day in New Zealand, I'd managed to get a copy in the morning of launch day and proceeded to play it over the next three nights on the normal setting.

No disrespect to the makers of the prior Halo games Bungie, Halo 4 is the game that Halo: Reach should have been, that is to say a direct continuation of the story that was 'finished' in Halo 3. And why do I say that? Because Halo is about the Master Chief and this is a Halo game!

The gist of Halo 4 is the Master Chief has found himself on a planet of Forerunner design where an entity known as the Diadact is pretty darn keen to destroy humanity and it's up to John117 and his rampant companion, Cortana to save the universe one more time.

The opening vignette is a bold statement by 343 Industries. Featuring Dr Halsey being interrogated or interviewed (depending on your point of view as she's hand cuffed) by an unknown agent seemingly intent on getting some unknown truth out of her about the Spartan programme and the Master Chief. It's one of the most foreboding starts to a Halo game ever presented, bringing a story angle that's only ever been addressed in the wider Halo universe via novels and firmly places the context of the game as being about John117. It's also 343 saying, hey we can do the most amazing animation that's ever been done for an Xbox game. If the Xbox 360 is nearing the end of it's life then may it's death be swift so that all future games can look this good!

Plot wise, Halo 4 is pretty simple in that it's just a race around the park trying to figure out how to stop the Diadact, saving a few soldiers here and there, taking down a Covenant armada there and battling the Promethean army (which turn out to be some kind of enslaved humans), oh and hunting down the Diadact.

One thing that puzzled me and I'm sure to figure it out on a second run through is why the so called Covenant Zealots had come to Requiem, unless I missed something it was explained too well.

It was nice to meet the Librarian after learning about her in Greg Bear's Forerunner novels

The mechanics of Halo as we know it are all there - the meelee, the grunts with useless aim, grenades, DMR headshots and the new and improved assassination from behind are extremely fun to get back into.

Some of the set pieces were quite brilliant - very late in the game we visit a Halo installation where we have to hold of a significant push by the Covenant using a Mantis. It's epic and will challenge any seasoned Halo player on the Legendary setting and serves an example that the new makers of Halo know a thing or two about making video games.

For this player, the graphics are the true highlight of the game. Video cut scenes are brilliant, Cortana and the Chief are amazingly drawn characters. Cortana has been given a vibrant feel (she's well acted too by Jen Taylor) and the Chief's verdant greens are a stand out  You may recall level Sierra 117 from Halo 3 were the Chief runs through a forest to save Johnson. The forests in this iteration of Halo makes that level look like it was done in crayon by a blind person. It's just marvellous.

To promote Halo 4 a whole lot of concept art was released and it was simply fantastic to walk around a corner and boom - there were the structures and ideas that had been my desktop screen come to life in game.

The music of the game was pretty cool. To repeat the original Halo themes without Marty O'Donnell at the helm would probably have been a mistake so 343 Industries went with Neil Davidge who has produced some excellent music which did a fine job of setting a new tone for the franchise. At times I felt the music I was listening to was the sound of the planet Reqiuem such was the wonderful atmosphere it helped generate. I hope Davidge gets to go another round on Halo as I think he's quite good.,

I think Halo 3 is my favourite Halo game as it came out at the apex of my Halo multiplayer mania and it 'finished the fight'. This new Halo is probably the best Halo thus far in the sense that every previous element or mechanism that I came across in game has been improved apon, the graphics are amazing and the Master Chief has been made into a real character with a touch of humanity about him as opposed to the automaton that he arguably was in say Halo 2.

The ending of the game features a awesome trench run of sorts in a Broad Sword, a game of hide and seek and an ending that had a touch of tragedy about it and the moment when that occurs is arguably the defining moment of who the Master Chief really is.

One can only wonder what will be in store for the Big Green Guy - there's a lot of Covenant still out there and that planet Requiem sure was interesting......

Thursday, November 8

Tell Casey what you want in ME3

Casey Hudson asks via twitter what we want to see for the next Mass Effect game.

Two things Casey:

Quality writing, reviewed by an expert.

A sequel, not a prequel. 

Thanks and have a nice day.

How to use forge in Halo 4 - video tutorial

Here's a video on how to use forge in Halo 4 prepared for you by the team that made it, Certain Affinity (who are no strangers to helping out on Halo related content).

In their words:

This video covers the basics of editing using Forge in Halo 4. We'll quickly build a simple Mongoose racetrack using Duplicate, Magnets, and Rotation Snap. People new to Forge should leave with a better idea of how to use Forge, while those more experienced will get a taste of the new features that make editing in Forge faster than ever before.

Wednesday, November 7

This is the evil that awakened in Halo 4


Meet the Diadact, the bad guy of Halo 4 and the ever loving husband of the Librarian.

The Didact was a Forerunner Promethean who held an extremely high status in the Forerunner society as supreme commander of the entire Forerunner military. There's a huge back story but eventually he took control of the body of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting (refer Halo: Cryptum) and set about laying plans to finish off the Halo programme.

By the time the Diadact finally meets the Master Chief in Halo 4, his actions across the milenia have seen him defined as the bad guy of the Halo universe.

Meet the Librarian from Halo 4

librarian halo 4
Do you have some books to return young man?
After being first mentioned in the Terminals that were found in Halo 3, the Librarian has loomed large in the back story of Halo, effectively acting as humanity's guardian angel, working to counter the after effects of the Human - Forerunner War, the battle to protect the Universe from the Flood and finally the actions of the Diadact.

The Forerunner novels Cyrptum and Primordium showed the Librarian has one of the central characters of the Halo realm, so to finally see what she looks like in Halo 4 is nothing short of a great moment in Halo gaming history.

This image of the Librarian taken is a great example of just how far Xbox game design has come - you may recall one of the biggest criticisms of Halo 3 (and ODST) was just how bad human faces were represented. The characters in Halo 4 are just amazingly detailed. 

Monday, November 5

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand...

chief giving copy of halo 4

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand, the Master Chief personally gives you your copy!

This was from the Auckland launch where Kiwis can be the first in the world to get their hands on Halo 4 due to the time difference from the rest of the world.

Saturday, November 3


The Hunted...
It's been a long time coming for Forward Unto Dawn to go all Black Hawk on our ass and while episode 4 started to cranking into some real Halo action, the fifth and final webisode of the FUD series delivered an epic set piece worthy of having the Halo name attached.

If you'll recall the events of FUD 4, our heroes were making a dash in a Warthog for a Pelican to beat a hasty exist off the Planet.

With a knowing nod to the Halo CE Warthog' mechanics, Laskey comments that the Warthog is hard to drive. I think it would be too if your exit route was paved with Jackals!

Our heroes are forced to stop after driving over a very keen Jackal which leads to them realising their foe has withdrawn. The Chief figures out they are being hunted and so begins the climax of the series, the Chief taking down a Hunter.

Correction, make that two Hunters - as any Halo fan will know, the Mgalekgolo always hunt in pairs.

The production values of FUD really shine at the point, a silhouette of a Hunter against a forest backdrop is truly  menacing and a fantastic set piece where the Master Chief climbs on the back of one to implant a grenade within its wormy structure serves as a fitting climax to the series.

What this does show, for this writer anyway, is that if a Halo movie is to work, it needs to feature the Master Chief and lots of him. The extremely long slow burn to get to some action was painful as a viewer to behold.

Too many characters in the first three episodes where introduced and were effectively merely set up cannon fodder for Covenant troops. Frankly, any old trooper could have been killed along the way for shock value.

That said, it will keep me up at night wondering how this guy died.

If the Gears of War movie gets off the ground, it will be interesting to see how they hand the pace of the film. if done well that could perhaps serve as a guide to how a proper Halo movie could be made.

A nice coda at the end of the episode shows Laskey as a war veteran aboard the UNSC Infinity vessel (remembering an old love), thus suggesting he might feature in the Halo 4 game and some what poignantly tying in the name of series into the whole thread of the Halo cannon.

Friday, November 2

Bioware talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy


Bioware's Ryan Warden talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

You may have heard that the Mass Effect series is going to be bundled up into one pack across a range of gaming platforms. Sounds like it was a mammoth task to get it all together. Here's an article that was post on the Bioware Blog. 


I’m Ryan Warden, the External Producer for Mass Effect Trilogy. I’ve been with BioWare for almost 9 years now – first as a tools programmer, then working with external teams to coordinate the translation and foreign-language voice recording for the Mass Effect series. Lately I’ve been working to help bring you Mass Effect Trilogy for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.

We began work on Mass Effect Trilogy in earnest last April, shortly after Mass Effect 3 had shipped. The trilogy was complete, but there was a slight complication — there are people who had missed out on one (or more) titles in the series. From day one, we had announced that Mass Effect would be part of a trilogy. Jumping into the series at a midpoint could be intimidating. One thing you should know about our development team is that we’re all very passionate about the trilogy, the entire Mass Effect universe. So we started looking at ways to take away any intimidation or barriers players new to the franchise might feel, while also providing an amazing overall experience at a great price for the holidays. So the Mass Effect Trilogy was born.

Now I know that may sound like an easy thing to do, but it actually took a lot of talented people and a lot of effort to make this happen – for every version of Mass Effect Trilogy. Even for the platforms we’ve launched all three games on before, reissuing a game isn’t easy. There isn’t a switch in the game code that you can flip and suddenly it runs on newer, completely different hardware architecture or a new online client. There is no such thing as “just a port.” Luckily, we have great partners at Microsoft and EA who were instrumental in helping us make as seamless of an experience as possible for all three games.

Then there was building the original Mass Effect for the PlayStation 3.

Fortunately, we had a huge head start because of the work we had done with Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 for PS3. With that said, the original Mass Effect game was built completely differently than its successors, as we’ve learned a lot of lessons since then about how-to and how-not-to build a game. To be completely honest, I thought that it was unlikely that we could port Mass Effect in less than a year. It might take three years. Maybe even twenty-three! Fortunately, the team at Edge of Reality, an external team we’ve worked with in the past on many projects, thought otherwise. So we decided to try.

There were some complications. The audio technology that we originally used was no longer supported by its developer… and the engine didn’t support the PS3. “No problem,” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution. The levels and art assets in Mass Effect were massive and streaming into memory would probably have to work differently on the PS3 – which is NOT a trivial issue. “Shouldn’t be a problem’” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution.

Wrap up of Halo 4 Reviews from around the net

Here's a selection of choice paragraphs of the pre release press reviews of Halo 4. They are pretty impressive and it's clear that Halo 4 is a new era in Halo's chapter.

Game Informer loves it

343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation.

Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and well-structured in the series.

It starts with a mesmerizing CG cutscene that flat-out knocks you on your ass. The lighting is flawless, subtle movements and animations abound, and it even goes so far that Commander Lasky (yes, the same Lasky we see as a teenager in the Forward Unto Dawn webseries) has crooked teeth – not the usual polygon-perfect Chiclet choppers that every other animated video game human has. It strikes a fine balance between old-school fan service and establishing context for new players, and it quickly segues into gameplay, where Halo 4’s greatest strength becomes immediately apparent: its gunplay.

Of course, gorgeous graphics are only one responsibility a console’s killer app must bear. Perhaps equal to Halo 4’s monitor-melting visuals is its bar-none, best-in-class sound design. If you think you’ve heard Halo, check your ears and listen again. Nary a gunshot, MJOLNIR boot clank, or Covenant Elite’s “Wort wort wort” passes through your speakers without a significant, authoritative overhaul that lends an aggressive, testosterone-inducing punch to Halo 4’s combat.

Wednesday, October 31

Halo 4 plumbs new depths of infrastructure to keep it all running

Here's an article on the behind the scenes needs to keep the juggernaught of Halo 4's back end infrastructure up and running.
Jerry Hook and Tamir Melamed, the hardest-working plumbers in the video game world not named Mario or Luigi. 
Hook and Melamed lead the engineering team laying the subterranean IT structures that will power every pixel of the multiplayer experience in “Halo 4.” Everything fans experience online – stats, screenshots, the simple joy of blasting a friend or stranger to smithereens – depends on the infrastructure they’ve built over the past year and half. That infrastructure is supported by Windows Azure, which provides the team with the affordable scalability they need to keep a game like “Halo 4” running smoothly for fans.
Tamir Melamed and Jerry Hook
Tamir Melamed and Jerry Hook

The average gamer probably doesn’t think about the virtual machines, cloud services and other technologies that power their fun – at least not as long as everything runs smoothly. When “Halo 4” launches Nov. 6, millions of fans around the world will simultaneously push the game’s back-end scaffolding to the limit. Any glitch, any hang-up, and the engineering team gets thrust into the spotlight. 
“That's the lot of the plumbers of the world,” says Melamed, principal development manager for Microsoft’s 343 Industries. “You only think about them when something goes wrong.”
If Hook and Melamed are concerned about the launch, they don’t show it. They’re both naturally modest and laid back – probably by necessity. When the first “Halo" game launched more than a decade ago, the video game industry’s rhythm was more or less straightforward: create a bunch of discs, ship them, and start work on the next release.

Things have changed. Since “Halo 2,” the franchise has supported online multiplayer games via Xbox LIVE. Today the Halo Waypoint site is open 24/7, serving as a central hub for fans craving online games and Halo-related content. The upcoming “Halo” release features Infinity Multiplayer, a vastly expanded suite of multiplayer modes, weapons, vehicles, armor abilities and more. And “Halo 4” takes the multiplayer experience even further with Spartan Ops, a series of episodic videos coupled with missions that will stream to users every week. 
Hook, Melamed and their colleagues on 343 Industries’ Section 3 team will be responsible for keeping things running for months, even years after the official launch. (The team takes its name from the Halo universe; fittingly, Section 3 refers to a military branch responsible for black ops.)
“‘Halo’ from here on out does not end,” says Hook, executive producer at Section 3. “It’s a sustained franchise. Players will always feel engaged.”

To keep things up 24/7, they decided to take the franchise’s existing infrastructure – built over a decade by the Bungie game studio – and move it to Windows Azure. The team says Azure gives them a robust, cost-effective way to scale up and scale down as demand ebbs and flows across the globe.

Meanwhile, they’ve built up a team of engineers that possesses serious coding chops and the ability to stay sane in the always-on world of live services.

“We know we can’t anticipate the 101 things that will go wrong,” Hook says. “The only thing we can control is ensuring our team responds appropriately to those situations.”
Hook and Melamed recently sat down with the Microsoft News Center to chat about “Halo 4,” the gaming industry’s shift to a services-oriented world, and how to stay cool when the building’s on fire. 
MNC: So how does your behind-the-scenes work show up in “Halo 4?
Melamed: There's a whole new slew of scenarios we enable on the back-end, either in the game or on Waypoint, that people enjoy: screenshots, their stats and the ability to compare to friends, different game modes. We make sure if someone is hassling someone else in the game you can ban them. All those abilities really help users enjoy the game more. 
Hook: From my perspective, part of what 343 Industries is trying to do is have a conversation with fans. When you talk about service-driven game development, when you talk about new modes like Spartan Ops, these start becoming more long-tail models for entertainment instead of release a disc, go dark and come back. That means your community engagement maintains through one title to the next title as much as possible.
So there’s what Tamir was talking about in the game, like screenshots and map packs, but you also see more entertainment like Spartan Ops. Think about a TV show: you don’t just launch and then go dark until the next year. With Spartan Ops, we’ll release an episode every week. Each episode is comprised of five missions with stories similar to your campaign. So for the first time when you purchase a disc, you don’t just have one campaign but you get two: the standard one and an ongoing, episodic one. 
MelamedFans will be able to come back every week and experience a new episode. They can jump in at any time, or watch and play old episodes – as you would similar to DVR. Players will be excited to come back to the title for the new experiences.

Saturday, October 27

Dragon Age III concept artwork

The Bioware blog proudly boasts these concept art pictures of there forth coming game,  Dragon Age III: Inquisition:




Friday, October 26

JJ Reviews: FUD part IV

Jump in.
The pace picks up with the fourth episode of the Forward Unto Dawn series.

Faced with certain death, the cadets manage to find themselves cornered by a Elite. Caught by fear and a lack of weaponry they appear doomed until the Big Green Guy turns up to save the day with a cliched take-down-the-enemy-from-behind move to introduce the character. Cheesey, but it worked for a fine introduction of the Chief.

From there, our now armed and motivated cadets are escorted by the Chief to a Warthog so as to make an extraction point with a Pelican. Our heroes are besieged by a crew of Jackals who are raining green lasers and pink crystal shards from a roof top.

The camera work is fast and furious with a technique of showing a lot of action in slow motion which then lapses in to real time. A shot of the Chief jumping from a fair height and completing a land that would have put him into Olympic medal contention was very well done.

As I watched, I wistfully rued once more that I was watching 'Halo movie light' and not the full Hollywood production that Peter Jackson had planned.

I appreciated what appeared to be a nod to the infamous power of the original Halo: Combat Evolved pistol - the Chief managed to take down 2 or 3 Jackals with single shots from a fair distance.

Not sure where part 5 is going to take us, the simple plot story line suggests nothing major in terms of Halo canon will occur but maybe we'll get to see the next episode from the point of view of the Arbiter..... ;)

Monday, October 22

Top Ten Meagan Marie Cosplay Costumes

The Joker's just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash!
Top Ten Meagan Marie Cosplay Costumes

Meagan Marie is perhaps the best known cosplayer around. She's been part of the gaming community for a fair while which has meant she's had enough time to do some awesome cosplay work and build quite a following. Here's what I think are her top ten cosplay moments.

This is one of my favourites that Meagan has done, Anya Stroud from Gears of War - she managed to get some photos taken on an actual military vessel! That's pretty cool. Also check out that Lancer, it looks pretty close to the real deal.

Check out Meagan as one of the most famous gaming characters, Lara Croft. This time with a twist of steam punk influence. Meagan spent some real time on this one, read her post on how she put together the costume. 

Ms Lara Croft

Sunday, October 21

Miranda Lawson body paint cosplayer Mass Effect pictures

body paint mass effect miranda

Do you remember the original body painted Mass Effect girls?

Finally, someone has upped the ante with a fine example of Mass Effect cosplay mixed with paint to produce this fantastic version of Miranda Lawson from ME2 and 3.

Labyrinth cosplay: Dance magic dance!

Well Laugh!
A fine cosplay impersonation of Jareth from the Labyrinth movie. They should totally remake the movie I reckon!

Time for your sponge bath.....

Silent Hill nurse cosplayer with big breasts

The Armageddon Expo hit Auckland, NZ this weekend and the NZ Herald was there to take a few pictures of the punters and cosplayers. I think the best picture they took was of this nasty piece of work from what I believe is the Silent Hill game series. If I'm wrong, sorry for making a giant boob of myself!

"Why is this not a thing?" - Inverter button on the controller

A Redditor asked "Why is this not a thing?" and I agree with them - there's nothing more annoying than having mates round to play Xbox and when it's the turn of the dude that likes his set up inverted and everything has to stop while they set it up.

The idea to have a quick button for inversion is not a bad idea - however you got ask if enough people play in that orientation to make it worth it...

Friday, October 19

There will be more than just Terminals to find in Halo 4

john 117 halo

There will be more than just Terminals to find in Halo 4

NZ Gamer did an interview with Mr Josh Holmes regards Halo 4. I was pleased to this question about in game finds for the campaign. 

In the game itself, are there discoverable lore elements to find, like your team added to last year's Halo remake?

Yes there are. There’s a lot of secondary storytelling, more so than any past Halo game. A lot of that is credited to our narrative director who joined us from BioWare*. He approached the storytelling of finding different ways of telling story within the experience without putting it in that primary channel where it gets in the way of the action. It’s there for the players that want to explore.

In the first mission there are a couple of terminals that you can interact with, and depending on those interactions, there’s subtle branching dialogue later. There’s a lot of little subtle things like that which will very subtly change the experience.


I'll have to pay attention to what ever they are - I wouldn't want to miss out on on learning about The Mind - or perhaps we'll learn more of the Coalminer...

* I presume this is a reference to Armando Troisi

The Halo: Silentium novel release has been delayed

The Halo: Silentium novel has been delayed and given a new release date:

New York, NY – October 18, 2012 - Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC-the largest publisher of science fiction in the world-is thrilled to announce the final release date for the third novel in the New York Times bestselling Halo Forerunner Saga, HALO: SILENTIUM, written by legendary science fiction author Greg Bear. The first two books of the Forerunner Saga, Halo: Cryptum and Halo: Primordium are currently available in trade paperback, e-book, and audiobook. This newest book in the series, HALO: SILENTIUM will release in hardcover from Tor on March 19, 2013 alongside simultaneous audio and e-book editions.


The third episode of Forward Unto Dawn has been released. It is finally time to sort the men from the boys, the cadets from the captains of war.

It's time to introduce the Covenant.

You might have read me bitch about how slow the build up has been thus far in the FUD series - so it was pleasing to see some real action happen. The Covenant have found the UNSC training base and have sent in three ship loads of Covenant forces to destroy all that they can find.

We got to see an enormous elite, a betrayal and finally the Big Green Guy. Hopefully the action will continue and even ratchet up a notch, as for me, Halo is not about allergies to drugs that prevent you from joining the war or pashing the girl from Narnia, it's about taking down the bad guys. Which has actually yet to happen.....

The quality of the film is pretty good, there's some good acting, nice music and the general tone is pitched just right (aside from being slow).

Watch the video here:

Thursday, October 18

Halo 4 News Summary

master cheif halo 4

Halo 4 News Summary 

Here's a link-o-rama of various bits of Halo 4 news that I've put together over the last month or so. There's been a megaton of information releases by 343 and other entities and I've collected what I personally found interesting...
Want to win a copy of Halo 4 and a Xbox 360 to play it on? Enter our competition sponsored by GameStop!

This is what Meltdown looks like in Halo 4

meltdoown map halo 4

"While most Forerunner technology appears to support safe usage over immense passages of time, the failure of specific systems can cause a cascading effect which dramatically impacts a site’s foundational composition. This frigid moon’s icy conditions once served to control a Forerunner reactor’s intense heat, but those days are now long gone."


Coded Halo 4 message revealed by 343

Well I totally missed it but Little English Halo Blog didn't.  Hidden within the text of the latest Halo Bulletin lies this curious message from the Surgeon to the Coalminer (operatives for the Office of Naval Intelligence, ONI). 

Here's the coded message (and here's the first message).






UNGGOY// Sensors at Balaho indicate stability, no off-planet transport recorded since Solipsis. Runners are claiming that Buwan has been abandoned as well, but we’re keeping our eyes on it anyway. Moderate Unggoy populations have been observed in Sangheilian systems at various intervals.

KIG-YAR// Eayn’s native population continues to grow and expand within reasonable governing parameters; its economic and social lines have stabilized in the wake of the war. Muloqt, Kaelarot, and Valyanop, the primary interplanetary colonial sites, all remain static, with little notable movement. There are rumors of mercenaries operating alongside a handful of more conservative Sangheili states, although that has yet to be substantiated.

SANGHEILI// Most intel here originates from ground contacts, but sensors have assisted with validation. The primary issue with the Sangheili is that of discordant cultural symmetry. It is difficult to assess military growth across several dozen active colonial vectors all with disparate political structures. Nevertheless, any and all visible military activity appears to be internecine in nature.

NOTE: A cluster of Sangheili frontier worlds saw a sudden and anomalous convergence of unregistered ships, largely cruisers of varying classes according to a handful of remote relays stationed nearby. By the time sensors were deployed, the ships were gone. The relays can’t assess numbers or strength, but the readings we have indicate that this wasn’t an expeditionary voyage or something tied to a single state. It appears to have been much larger.


More info on Halo 4's Mighty Mantis Machine

The Halo Bulletin dropped more information on the Mighty Mantis Machine! As written by Ali Zandi.

The Mantis is a new UNSC bipedal weapons platform, fully equipped with a high caliber chain gun mounted on its right arm, multi-rocket system on its left arm, and UNSC’s energy shielding technology. The chain gun is effective up close, but has significant projectile spread and heat when laying on the trigger for long periods of time (once the chain gun overheats, it goes into a cool down sequence for a few seconds, disallowing the weapon to fire during that period). The rocket pod delivers massive direct impact damage, as well as moderate amounts of splash damage to infantry and armor. It has two firing modes, one being semi-automatic, and the second being a full volley of however many rockets are loaded in the pod. A total number of five rockets can be queued up by holding the weapon’s trigger down, or fired individually by latching the trigger. Once all five rockets are depleted, the Mantis initiates a reload sequence, replenishing the rockets after a few seconds.

The Mantis has two variants – Campaign and Multiplayer – which differ greatly in terms of damage, spread, and projectile speed. The Campaign version of the chain gun deals much more damage as it uses higher caliber rounds, and the rocket system is anti-aircraft. 

Inspired by Halo Legends, the Mantis started out as an armored exoskeleton that Spartans would equip, augmenting their abilities. It had numerous weapons, roles, mechanics and shapes, and featured a dedicated shield. It also had the ability to jetpack, use thrusters, and fire a Railgun. We even had an early prototype that consisted of the Chief riding in a giant scaled-up Chief (Yo dawg, we herd you liek the Chief, so we put the Chief in your Chief so you can play as the Chief while you play as the Chief). The idea then evolved into an actual mechanized vehicle, which was more epic in scale and fit the UNSC better.


Once the concept was finalized and the Mantis was modeled and rigged for animation, we hooked up the bare systems to allow the weapons to fire and players to occupy the seat. During that time, there was massive animation work done to get all the parts moving and animating. It was difficult because there was nothing in the game engine that contained any logic for a mech. It was not easy iterating on values, because if we cranked the knobs on movement speeds or stomp delays, for example, the animation team would need to iterate on the animation content for the walk cycles and the stomp animation to compensate. Communication was crucial.

We ended up using a biped/vehicle hybrid, and there were significant amounts of content and code work done to bring this to life. After that phase came the heavy animation work and iteration process on the timings and numbers to get the legs feeling and behaving correctly in all the different possible situations across numerous maps. The team focused heavily on the Mantis’ legs and foot pinning to make sure the legs would behave when walking across various elevations and obstacles. Once we felt good with the timings and animations of the movement, we starting balancing health, weapons, and numerous amounts of other magical systems for Campaign and Multiplayer. 


During the balancing phase, we discovered players were having a hard time knowing if the Mantis was reloading or not from certain distances, because the silhouette remained the same. To address that issue, we decided that it needed some sort of visual feedback to show when the weapons were temporarily down. It was definitely interesting and challenging to decide how we could animate the arms without it sorting into itself at different torso rotations and pitches, or looking like a Jersey Shore fist pump. Once we got the animations down, we found that it was extremely useful to players on foot, because it visually conveys the windows of opportunity infantry has when the Mantis weapon systems are down.

Overall, it’s slightly similar to the Scorpion tank in terms of health and armor, but it trades firepower for maneuverability, allowing the Mantis to be more agile than the Scorpion when needed. Also like the Scorpion, it is capable of being boarded by enemies and EMPed by a Plasma Pistol charge. One notable difference is that the Mantis is capable of using its weight to deliver a devastating stomp to crush enemies in front of it by pressing the melee button. Time your stomp carefully though, and remember that it’s a risk reward. If you miss and or use it carelessly, you leave yourself open to being boarded.

The biggest challenge when designing the Mantis was making it feel satisfying both for the players piloting it and players fighting against it. The goal was to have an awesome new vehicle in Campaign and Multiplayer, and not have it pulled off the Multiplayer boards because it’s impossible or too easy to counter. Through rigorous playtesting and prototyping, we pursued the “less is more” approach and simplified the Mantis into a much more focused experience.

One of the more effective roles for the Mantis in Multiplayer is base defense. It does especially well in close to medium ranges against both infantry and vehicles, but it’s good to have some cover just in case. You don’t want to be caught out in the middle of the battlefield in your big giant robot when the other team has a Spartan Laser. If used in an offensive operation (for example, escorting teammates toward the enemy flag), it is extremely critical to have a team supporting their fellow Mantis, killing potential boarders and anyone targeting the Mantis with a power weapon.

While piloting the Mantis is an enjoyable experience, so is blowing it up. Hooking up and polishing all the numerous little bits and doodads that splinter off the Mantis when each section starts taking damage and breaking apart was definitely the most fun (and time consuming) out of all the vehicles to setup. Each destruction asset piece is tuned to give proper visual response when popping off its parent region. There is a lot of attention to detail, and we made sure that the destruction is granular and satisfying.

Oh, one more thing to all you budding mech pilots: Watch your back, because she can be boarded from behind. And yes, that’s what I said.