Tuesday, January 31

Bungie nearly signs off from Halo...

Here's Bungie's latest news on the handling of live Halo data:

Last summer, Bungie and 343 Industries began a transition process for Halo data. On March 31st, 2012 that transition process will be complete, all live Halo data will be managed by 343 Industries, and Bungie will no longer be able to update game stats and player service records, to host new user generated content, or to operate the Bungie Pro service. All currently supported, Bungie-developed Halo titles will be impacted by this change.

Any replacement functionality, and all future Halo support, will be provided by Microsoft and 343 Industries via Halo Waypoint at http://halo.xbox.com.

Bungie will preserve all existing historical Halo data on Bungie.net for as long as the Internet and Bungie's data storage systems remain functional.

Thanks for making the Halo-era version of Bungie.net more successful than we could have possibly imagined. You complete us.

See you starside.

What do I want in a video game?

What do I want in a video game?

I want to be let into the mystery.

I want heroes with a heart and I want heartless villains.

I want the ghost and the shells to scare the shit out of me.

I want time to let things settle in. I don’t want significant plot points to be rushed.

I want character vocals to be audible and clearly enunciated. I don’t what characters to be drowned out by musical effects.

I want DLC that doesn't suck. I don't want to have to download a million new maps a million times.

If I'm flying an X-Wing and I want to feel like I'm Luke Skywalker.

I want details. I want the facts. I want the easter eggs that make sense. I don’t want to have to wrestle an alligator and then fly it to the moon to find that egg though.

I want to be in on the joke but I don’t want the joke to be a lame reference to some dude’s girlfriend who once worked at Hooters.

I want game play to be intuitive. I want multiple options for solving problems. I suck at maths, I don’t want to have to place 5 litres of water using a random selection of clay pots to advance.

I want to have a big fucking shiny gun. In fact guns, lots of guns.

I want to be able to move my character with a fluid grace but if I jump 10 feet down, I want to feel that thud in my boots as I hit the turf.

I want beer.

I want it all and I want it now.

I want my car to have red racing stripes down the side because everybody knows red racing strips makes cars go faster and look cooler.

I want my heroines to have realistic breast sizes. Hulking giant orbs that defiantly object to the laws of physics belong in the comics shouldn't be in my video games.

I want backstory and backbeat.

I want the payoff after playing a campaign for 15 hours.

I want clues to solve it.

I want my character's nightmare to be so real I'm afraid to play with the lights off. 

I’m a worldly person. It’s OK to reference real world history. It’s OK to twist history with fiction.

I want video games to challenge my mind. It’s brilliant when they substitute Andrew Ryan with Ayn Rand and leave me to figure out where I should draw the line.

I want Issac, Arthur, Frank Herbert's Dune and Dick all rolled into one. Here's a great essay on Dune.

What do you want?

Jessica Chobot / Diana Allers ME3 Wallpaper

 jessica chobot mass effect breasts

In one of the more blatant moves to get the fan boys on board, the Mass Effect 3 producers have seen fit to to add IGN pinup call, Jessica Chobot a role in the ME3 game. She's to play reporter Diana Allers in the campaign, along with a host of movie actors such as Freddie, Seth and Tricia. Here's some wallpaper, I'm sure it will sell well!

If you needed a reason to order Mass Effect from Amazon, this was it!

diana allers mass effect 3

Stand and deliver your virtual goods and money!

I spied this story about the real world harassment of a young RuneScape player to make them drop their in game loot.

“The Dutch Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the theft conviction of a youth who stole another boy's possessions in the popular online fantasy game RuneScape. Judges ordered the offender to perform 144 hours of community service.

The suspect's lawyer had argued the amulet and mask "were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value." Yet the punk held a knife to the kid and made him drop his loot in-game.

These ‘virtual world’ economies are nothing new in the digital sense, people often trade money in the real world for items in the digital realm.

The story did make me think about Bungie’s new game, Destiny. Mooted to be set in world where players can come and go, it’s been hinted that it will have some kind of in game economy (this was through a job advertisment's call for persons with experience in virtual economies).

One can only image what will happen if Destiny is the success we all want it to be.  Given the stories that have abound such as kids shooting because they took their Halo away, or people travelling miles across the country to beat up someone who has offended them in game, there’s likely to be ample room for such shennaigans to result from taking part in Destiny.

While there’s no doubt Bungie is tuned into these problems of in game scammers and loot stealers and the like and they will make Destiny’s economy a robust one,  let’s hope their Federal Reserve is a strong one.

Jessica Chobot to appear as a reporter in ME3

chobot allers mass effect
Jessica Chobot as Diana Allers in ME3
In one of the most blatant moves in recent gamer history to get the fan boys on board (other than having Tricia Helfer appear as EDI?), the wise counsel of Mass Effect 3 producers haved decided to add IGN pin-up gal, Jessica Chobot a role in the ME3 game. She's to play reporter Diana Allers in the campaign. I'm sure Jessica will be a popular feature of the game.

Meet ME3's celebrity voice actors

Here's some promotional work from the celebrity actors of ME3 - only the stars, not the key players ;)

Martin Sheen
Freddie Prinze
Tricia Helfer
Seth Green

What to do with dark infectious clouds?

Bungie legend Marcus Lehto shares some insight into the creative process he goes through when developing games – I found this section on how a feature from Halo Reach was cut from the game. Issac Hannaford released some concept design work for a boat a few months ago which let the cat out of the bag that at one time Halo: Reach was to have a boat.

“However, this process isn’t without its flaws. Because some ideas require time to explore, we had people work on major features of the game for months at a time only to find that what they made required more exploration and that we simply would not have the proper resources or time to complete what they had started.

In Halo: Reach, one prototype involved water craft driving over giant ocean swells. We got working to a point where the kernel of fun could be experienced for real. It was an example of something that the engineering team, some designers and artists got very excited about and I could easily see how it would fit into the big picture of game’s campaign.

But when direct implementation of the idea was attempted, the results were less than desirable. We could have continued working on it and come up with something great, but the effort would have robbed so many other features in the game that I had to make the decision to cut it and thus we wasted about 6 total man months of time. That’s tragic! But we have to recognize that it’s part of a creative endeavor. We will always make mistakes, but it’s my job to see them early enough before they become poorly shipped features.”

The rest of Lehto’s article explores how he likes his creative leads to be flexible and that he gives them plenty of rope. He’s also not shy about removing the persons who behave like “dark infectious clouds” or hassling Justine Bieber. ;)

Sunday, January 29

Assasin's Creed 3 to be set in a crazy time period?

A big rumour circulating the internet this morning is the suggestion that the third Asassin's Creed game will be set in a pretty modern time scale (all things considered) of during the American Revolution. Even though it's probably internet scuttlebutt, the idea of Assasin's Creed being set in a critical time period of American History. There's ample room for plot and skull duggery in that period as well.

As with the prior sequel, Creed 3 will need to have a new main character to engage and enrage - George Washington is a candidate perhaps? A secret aide whose mission is to to prevent the signing of a certain Treaty? Mel Gibson? Nicholas Cage? Who knows.

What do you think of this idea? Could Assassin's Creed work being set in America? There's been four games set in 'the olden day's' is it time for Creed to grow up like the Fable series has?

Why the next Xbox console does actually need discs! For Now....

Friday, January 27

Watch Mass Effect 3's Multiplayer Trailer

Watch Mass Effect 3's Multiplayer Trailer which demonstrates.... multiplayer! 

Multiplayer is a completely new element to the Mass Effect series, it's going to be very interesting to see how  it pans out - it's a fairly unique way to progress a campaign! (for those that don't know, playing multiplayer can have an impact on your sucess or failure in the ME3 campaign).

Seems like players will get to tackle a few of those dastardly Reapers along the way so it all sounds pretty cool.

Here's a run down of the race and associated class factor.
  1. Soldier Human: Adrenaline Rush, Concussive Shot and Frag Grenade.
  2. Engineer Quarian: Incinerate, Cryo Blast and Sentry Turret
  3. Vanguard Drell: Biotic Charge, Pull and Cluster Grenade
  4. Sentinel Turian: Warp, Overload and Tech Armor
  5. Vanguard Asari: Biotic Charge, Stasis and Lift Grenade
  6. Infiltrator Salarian: Energy Drain, Tactical Cloak and Proximity Mine
  7. Soldier Krogan: Carnage, Fortification and Inferno Grenade

Mass Effect 3 Concept Art

Thessia concept art mass effect
Thessia, homeworld of the Asari

Here's some sweet Mass Effect 3 concept art that I found at the official Bioware site. Featuring some landscapes, space ships and a Krogan, it looks like some real awesome design work has gone into the game.


Watch Halo: Helljumpers first episode

This is possibly the best quality Halo fan movie ever made, aside from the TERRIBLE acting, it has great effects, an interesting character set up and a really good vibe! Can't wait for episode two - the makers should be pretty proud of themselves!

Thursday, January 26

Read the Mass Effect: Deception Excerpt

The latest tie in novel Mass Effect: Deception launches next week on January 31st. To celebrate, publisher Del Ray has released a fifty page excerpt from the book for fans to get a taste!

The above image is the first paragraph of the novel.

Check it out here at the Bioware Blog or order it from Amazon.

343 are busy bees says Kiki Wolfkill

Kiki Wolfkill chipped  into the Halo Bulletin to let everyone know that the team at 343 is very busy and that's about it.

"We've had an action-packed week of internal mission reviews, a deep-dive with the Marketing and PR teams, and a quick little exec review thrown in for good measure. It may sound like a lot of reviews and that's because it is.... we are in full execution mode. There are hundreds of moving parts across 343 and Microsoft Studios that need to be aligned and coordinated—now is the time to get all our ducks in a row.

While it's been a little hectic making up for last week's snow days and going through these reviews, it's always invigorating to be able to get the game in front of folks who aren't staring at it every minute of every day. I do look forward to getting back to our normal routine of game-building, playtesting, and general creative rabble-rousing. More on this later."

Hanging out for some real Halo 4 news much?

Wednesday, January 25

Adrienne Curry as Princess Leia from ROTJ

return of the jedi bikini girls

Top Model and gaming fanatic Adrienne Curry loves to dress up as her favourite characters - she's done the Wonder Woman and the Silk Spectre - here's Curry as the 'Slave Princess Leia' from The Return of the Jedi movie. Some one get Adrienne into a sci-fi movie asap!

Why not allowing second hand games to run on the new Xbox would be plain wrong.

Why not allowing second hand games to run on the new Xbox console would be plain wrong. 

Kotaku is suggesting that the new version of the Xbox will potentially not allow used or second hand games to be played on the console. While closed units and IPR rights and DRM is all the rage in some quarters, it would seem to be a shitty move by Microsoft if they are trying to stamp out trading in second hand games .

Their motive of course would be enourage the purchase of new games either off the shelf from bonafide retailers or by download through the XBL service (which also would encourage the purchase of gold XBL member accounts).

And that’s fine. Microsoft is there to make money.

Publishers are there to make money too. That’s why you have to pay for DLC – and if DLC is free, you can be sure that there’s a marketing incentive behind it (such as goodwill to fans to keep a community active etc). 

What I do not like is Microsoft’s attempt to thwart something that is perfectly legal – in NZ where I live for instance, it is perfectly legal to sell second hand software. In the form of an Xbox game, it is absolutely legal to sell your copy of Halo 3 to the kid down the street.

Arguments about raising revenue aside, there should be no other reason to prevent such a transaction from occurring if it's a genuinely legal activity.

All this huffing and puffing is of course only a short term concern as it's bloody obvious we're heading to a 'download' only gaming world - it's just hard to say how long it will take us to get there? NZ is soooo far behind in the internet world we still have very low data caps so downloading full games is out of the question.

In the end, I suspect Kotaku's sources will be full of crap and if there is some kind of intiative, it will be more along the lines of tying a game to an account in some fashion. The mind boggles.

What's your view? Should Microsoft block second hand games from running on the new Xbox console?

Tuesday, January 24

ME3 Figurines will have DLC codes

EA will release new Mass Effect action figures later this year that include downloadable content for Mass Effect 3. While its been done before, this is a fairly new approach to DLC!

According to new listinsg on website BigBadToyStore.com, each figuring contains different in-game content exclusive to the North America gaming population. The listings all state:

Bonus Downloadable Game Content: Each figure includes an in-pack card giving you access to downloadable in-game bonus content. Each figure contains different in-game content, exclusive to North American released product. Collect all 8 for the full experience!

The site notes that the downloadable content is "slightly randomized during the registration and could include powerful new weapons and new characters. The pack could also include character boosters, weapon modifications, and weapon upgrades to make your multi-player squad stronger. "

The listing also says the content is available for your Personal Computer and Xbox 360 only. So PS3 fanss would appear to be missing out.

I'm picking the Miranda figurine will be a big seller!

Mass Effect Three is shipping soon - order your copy from Amazon now!

Monday, January 23

Freddie Prinze Jr to voice James Vega in ME3

Mr Prinze
It was announced this week that a fairly famous Hollwood actor has been drafted in to voice the new mass Effect 3 character, James Vega. Whilst no relation to Vince Vega, he's sure to have a massive role in the game's campaign, and Freddie Prinze has got the roll of voice actor.

Freddie Prinze is no stranger to acting and games - does any body remember Wing Commander?

Freddie joins other famous actors, Seth Green (playing Joker),  Tricia Helfer as EDI and of course Martin Sheen who plays the mysterious Illusive Man who I'm sure will have it out with Commander Sheppard in the game.

How does your Halo garden Bloom?

Tied the Leader took training to heart

Tied the Leader is one of the more battle harden Halo fan sites (and clans?) out there. They think about Halo and they think about Halo and they think about Halo and then they come up with this study of Halo Reach's boom.

 Here's their conclusion but read the whole article for context on how bloom works:

We can draw some conclusions right away from this chart. First, at short range, spamming will win a majority of the time in either setting. But the orange box is much higher than the blue box, meaning that 85% significantly increases the winning percentage for pacing.

Second, at medium range, it is clear that pacing will now win a majority of the time in either setting. But again, the orange box is higher than the blue box, meaning 85% once again improves the odds of pacing beating spamming.

Third, at long range, the orange box is slightly lower than the blue box, meaning that pacing win percentage is slightly lower in 85% than 100%. Does this mean 85% encourages spamming at long range? Definitely not. Look how high up the chart both the blue and orange boxes are at long range! Spamming is extremely unlikely to win in either bloom setting at long range, so the slight reduction in 85% will not be that noticeable in real world outcomes.

Cortana knows - Interesting Halo URLS....

Word on the street is that Microsoft has registered these website URLS - could be start of the build up to Halo 4 or simply brand reputation management.....

- http://clicktohump.org
- http://clicktohump.com
- http://getbattleready.com
- http://getbattleready.org
- http://halo24-7.net
- http://halocareer.com
- http://halostory.net
- http://halozero.org
- http://lostinslipspace.com
- http://john117.org

Bioshock's 1999 Difficulty Mode sounds brilliant

Here's some paragraphs from an article by Kotaku about Bioshock Infinite's now not so secret '1999' difficult mode:

For the hardcore gamer, 1999 mode could be the best thing that's ever happened. And for the non-hardcore gamers?

"They're gonna hate this mode," said Levine. "That's okay — it's not for them."

Who exactly is 1999 mode for? For one, it's for the student that approached the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games after a speaking engagement at Levine's old college to tell him he had a bone to pick with him. His complaint? That none of the choices in BioShock seemed to have any real permanence.

"There's a lot of things people can tell you about your game, positive and negative, and you can either agree or disagree," Levine told me. In this case he agreed. While there were permanent decisions in the game, none of the choices the player could make felt as if they changed the way the game was played irreversibly. "That would have been really cool."

Levine loved the idea so much he decided to "go down that road" with BioShock Infinite, but not before making sure it was something the fans wanted. The developer held an informal poll to feel out their audience. Would being required to make permanent decisions enhance their gameplay experience? When 57 percent responded in the affirmative, 1999 mode was born.

Adding 1999 mode to BioShock Infinite so late in the game was a bit of a challenge. The game wasn't designed to demand specialization from the player. The way resources were doled out had to be tweaked. The mode required extensive balancing to ensure the enhanced difficulty didn't cross the line from tough to cheap. "I really had to get back into the brain I had in the 90's," Levine explained. "It's that old-school feeling of 'If I fail, I deserved to fail' instead of 'the game made me fail'".

 Levine outlined how the game might play out for a player that decided to specialize in pistols. They'll be an amazing shot with a revolver, but the decision will severely affect their ability to use other weapons. When their back is to the wall and they've only got one bullet left, they might regret their decision, but it's up to them to make it work.

And if they should die, they'd better have the right components to facilitate resurrection. "Players have gotten so used to dying and getting rezzed that they'll use it as a strategy, running in taking out a few enemies, dying, and coming right back," Levine said. "In 1999 mode if you keep charging your resources to come back, be prepared to load a save game."

1999 mode creates this same sort of tension, while ensuring that the player is always in the pilot seat. The decisions, good or bad, are the player's to make. It's a mode that makes them think differently about how they play the game.

"We're going to hide (1999 mode) in the menu, probably with some sort of code. To the non-hardcore gamer we're not going to even reveal that it exists," Levine told me. "The mode will be very unfamiliar to the non-core gamer."

"This mode is not going to feel like BioShock'"

To the more hardcore among us, Levine thinks the new mode will be a welcome return, demanding and challenging. "This mode is not going to feel like BioShock", he warned. There will be rage quits. Controllers will be thrown, even among the hardcore.

Ultimately the choice to play BioShock Infinite in normal or 1999 mode is up to you, the player. If you try the more difficult setting and can't get the hang of it, then fall back on the regular game. Or alternate as your mood for a challenge comes and goes.

But if you're the kind of game that bails at the first sign of failure you may want to keep your distance. As Ken Levine said, "This is not for you. Don't worry about it.

"This is for the hardcore. They're the only ones that will understand why it's cool."

The Lives of the Brute

The Lives of the Brute - David Attenborough mockumentary - it's quite amusing  and makes great use of the Halo 3 cinematic and in game assets.

Wednesday, January 18

Do you need some First Aid Halo style?

It looks like this guy has a lot of time on his hands - here's a shot of his replica Med Kit from the Halo games. As an aside, I disliked the return of Med Kits in ODST and Reach. Just annoying.......

Monday, January 16

ME3 Q&A with Bioware's Jesse Houston

I stole this Q&A from the Bioware blog - I don't think they'll mind. It's a sweet interview with Bioware's Jesse Houston to discuss a few things about the new Mass Effect Game and it confirms a few things as well. 
Hi there! I’m Erika, the social media coordinator at BioWare. I sat down with Jesse Houston yesterday to ask him some of the burning questions fans had about Mass Effect 3, the co-op addition, and the new features we are all excited to hear more about. Check out the full interview below:
Will decisions made in ME1 & ME2 affect Galactic Readiness level?
In the Galaxy at War system, the Galactic Readiness Level is affected by multiple things. The choices from ME1 and ME2 will have an effect of the overall Galaxy at War system, but not directly on the Galactic Readiness level.
Does Multiplayer affect the success of my Shepard in the main story?
Absolutely. Multiplayer will definitely have an effect on your SP experience through the Galaxy at War system, so as you play the MP and the Co-Op and the more successful you are, the more that will affect your Galactic Readiness level which will then affect your end game result.
How do SP and MP work together/complement each other?
They complement each other really well in that the Galaxy at War System takes the actions played in MP and pushes them to your SP achievements. The SP elements will dovetail really nicely into those and both those actions will allow your Shepard to have a different ending depending on those actions. That said, SP can still be played all by itself without any kind of multiplayer or third party and you can still get the absolute best ending. This just gives you new options to be able to get that ending.
Which classes/races can you play as? Can you be a geth?
We haven’t given the full list yet. But as an example, you can totally play as a Krogan, as a Drell, as an Asari. Beyond those, I can’t give away all of the details, but I can say there will be a lot of interesting races that you may not expect to be able to play as because they wouldn’t normally be looked upon as characters who are for the fight normally. That said we’ll be releasing more and more characters through DLC later.
How does leveling up work in MP?
As you complete objectives inside of the co-op experience you are going to be leveling up similar to how you would in an RPG. You gain experience points and those experience points go toward your level and you spend points exactly how you would as a SP and each character is its own so you could theoretically have 10 or 20 characters going, each leveling up independently.
Will player-kicking be supported to deal with any idiots you may team up with?
We will have systems in place to deal with “griefers.” The nice thing is that the overall design isn’t conducive to griefing so there isn’t much value in doing kicks. How and when you’ll be able to do the kicks is still being worked on so I don’t want to talk too much about it. But just know that we are putting systems in place that will let you deal with people that you don’t want to be playing with.
Will Kinect still work in MP, and will using a headset to talk with teammates cause any interference?
The overall and general design of Kinect is such that it is about squad command and interacting with the world. Contextually speaking that doesn’t work as well with MP because those squad commands are your friends so we’d want you to yell at them and not your TV. So with that in mind, Kinect will not work in MP and therefore will not cause any interference.
If it’s a separate story campaign, are our multiplayer characters playing their part in dialogue scenes or is it more of an environmental storytelling?
While it is separate to the main story they will never be involved in the actual campaign of the main story. It’s more like a side mission to the SP. We don’t want to create situations where MP players have something that SP players couldn’t otherwise see.
Will there be dialogues, and how will they be handled?
All dialogue is done ambiantly, for instance the commander will be giving you orders through your headsets.
Will there be any form of in-game communication system (ie quickchat) with team mates?
All the main communication systems that we are putting in will allow you to speak to your team mates through the normal communication systems like your headsets.
Exactly who will we be fighting for? Citadel Defense Forces, Mercenary Groups?
At a high level, Shepard is marshaling the troops on behalf of the Earth Alliance so you are technically fighting for the Earth Alliance. From a story perspective, a lot of these groups have come together as a loose fighting force to stop the reapers therefore they don’t fly the same type of banners that would have existed in pre- reaper invasion days.
Will there be a match-making service, or a generic waiting room in which players can assemble and then form teams? Or will they have to plan out the teams in advance?
Given the general theme of us giving you the choice, we like you to plan your teams out in advance or if you prefer you can go in a quicker custom match and it will find people who are of similar skill levels to you.
Will there be leader boards?
Will there be squad banter?
Can friendly fire from powers/weapons be an option?
When we ship, we don’t believe it will be in there as an option but possibly at a later release. In the context of co-op we didn’t believe it added a lot to the co-op experience. You have a lot of pressure to succeed in the co-op and accidentally shooting your friends didn’t seem like a good experience. Maybe later as some sort of modifier to the game, but not at release.
Will we be able to further customize the armor and/or weapons on MP characters through in game challenges that award points or credits?
Why yes you will! We have slightly different armor and weapon customization system in MP. It still feels along the same vein, but in many ways there are more customization options for the MP armor side and it’s very similar on the weapon side. They are structured differently so stats don’t play the same way, so SP guys have something that feels better for SP and MP guys have something that feels better for MP.
Will co-op have its own disk, and/or executable? If not, how much space will it take up?
It will be included on the main disk. As for how much space, I’m not sure at this point. It’s mainly content so it is somewhat sizable but not so much that it affects the SP experience.
Will MP achievements be separated from SP achievements, or will they all combine together into the overall score?
Each game in general is assigned a certain number of achievements that they are allowed to give. We are required to have a broad selection of achievement types so there will be some MP achievements, there will be some SP achievements. What the ratio is, we are still trying to work out. And they ultimately accumulate to that 1000 point score or that platinum trophy.
Will BSN track co-op statistics? ie: classes played, enemies killed, wins, losses etc?
We are investigating this right now. There will definitely be a lot of BSN integration. What the final list of things is, we don’t really know yet.
Will co-op have its own disk, and/or executable? If not, how much space will it take up?
It will be included on the main disk. As for how much space, I’m not sure at this point. It’s mainly content so it is sizable but not so much that it affects the SP experience.
Will ME3 require an internet connection for each launching of the SP game, or will it retain ME2′s single verification method?
Mass Effect 3 PC will require the internet connection when you initially launch and authorize it but then you will no longer require the connection.
How does earned experience work with the different class choices?
Experience is gained through objective gathering not necessarily class choices. Each class earns achievements at the same pace, but separately. So if I play a soldier, the soldier earns the experience and my vanguard won’t until I play that vanguard. If I got to level 10 as a soldier, my vanguard would still be at level 1.
Will local co-op be supported? (ie local split screen, PC-LAN)
At the time of release, no. However it is definitely on the table as something we might add.
Is there a sunset plan after you decide to take the servers down in a couple of years.
Yes, absolutely. We won’t be taking the servers down until we realize that there aren’t enough players playing to warrant keeping them up and when we do take them down, we will make sure there are options so the players who are playing don’t feel abandoned. If anything is a good example, you can see today that Never Winter Nights is still supported and we’ve kept a lot of our servers live on it. So I wouldn’t be too worried about us taking down the servers anytime soon.
Can we create our own server (or do offline co-op), especially important for those in bandwidth-poor countries?
Because of a lot of the match making systems are quite server intensive, we have no plans anytime soon to allow the creation of an offline server. However, our servers themselves are quite bandwidth friendly and most of the MP elements involved in that are peer to peer based. So if you are in a bandwidth poor country, and you are playing with your friends you are still going to find it to be a relatively good experience.
Thank you so much for your time, Jesse!

Sunday, January 15

The Asexual Sheppard

Here's a really interesting perspective of sex in the Mass Effect realm from a person who describes themselves as asexual. 

"Back when Mass Effect 2 was a few days from release, I loaded up a New Game Plus of my main career to make all the choices I wanted to stick with me for the sequel. It was going so well, until I discovered I had said one friendly thing too many to Liara and hadn't the time for a do-over. And so I was left with making one uncharacteristic Renegade dialogue option after another to deter the poor, virginal asari, who was only trying to help and didn't realize I was genuinely uninterested in having sex with her.

The infamous dialogue trees in the Mass Effect franchise preceed it. Bioware's Ray Muzyka calls it "emotional engagement." I call it "treating sex as the ultimate stage of a relationship." I'm not against participating in game romances; as much as I feel we burden the two franchises by constantly comparing Mass Effect and Dragon Age, it's true the two are siblings and yet one has vastly different ideas on relationships than the other. Dragon Age portrays romantic relationships which unfold over time, which deepen, and which face challenges. Sex is generally a part of that, but never to the extent it seems like the raison d'etre of pursuing some companionship in Mass Effect.

"Why so uptight?" you might be wondering. "Are you a prude or something?" Good thing you asked. For a while I thought that that was exactly where my discomfort stemmed from, although it didn't line up with the rest of what I thought I knew about myself. It took some lengthy self-discovery to realize that I just don't place sex and love in remotely the same category, and that I was hurting trying to convince myself I felt otherwise.

I categorize myself as panromantic asexual. I once described this on my blog as being "a hands-off Jack Harkness." I feel no compunctions about forming emotional relationships with people but I'm not interested in sex."

Friday, January 13

How to get the Bandana Skull in Halo Anniversary

How to get the Bandana Skull without grenade jumping - by using the warthog! This is a sweet video tutorial eh?

Thursday, January 12

Is Paisha really the Halo 4 Cortana model?

Is this model really the basis of what we'll see of Cortana in Halo 4?

Reddit seems to think so.... If this is true and not some fan fantasy let's hope they've employed Jen Taylor to do the voice.... she did for the H4 announce trailer and is listed on IMDB as being in Halo Four so looking good there!

Tuesday, January 10

ME3 will definitely have a 'bad guy'

Casey Hudson was interviewed by Game Informer's Phil Kollar, Here's a key bit about the ME3 'bad guy'.

Game Informer: One of the few criticisms that I saw thrown around for Mass Effect 2 – and I should note that I did not view this as a problem, but I know that some people did – was the lack of a distinct bad guy or a real face to the enemy the way you had in Mass Effect 1. The final boss fight in Mass Effect 2 kind of comes out of nowhere. Is that something that you’ll be changing in Mass Effect 3? Is there a more specific villain or is it still just kind of the general threat of the Reapers?

Casey Hudson: In the first one we had Saren. In the second one, we wanted to introduce some mystery into who’s doing what, and that was supposed to be the Illusive Man. In the third game, yeah, I think we’re introducing a clearer target for Shepard, a clearer foil.


There you have it, none of this 'assuming control' bollocks from ME2. It appears that the ME3 will have a real enemy to take on (aside from the Reaper collective) - hopefully one as full and complete as Saren was!

Order your copy of Mass Effect 3 from Amazon now!


Monday, January 9

Keeping abreast of Elizabeth in Bioshock: Infinite

According to Ken Levine, whose team at Irrational Games are developing the new Bioshock Infinite game, fan boys are way too obessessed with main character Elizabeth's breast size. He recently talked to OXM and revealed this thought about the mammary issue "in terms of her body type, I think certainly people on the Internet have spent way more time thinking about Elizabeth's chest than I have. It's something I've barely thought about."

Note he said barely. Which is an interesting choice of word if you think about it. He also thus admits he DID at least think about Elizabeth's breast size.

I bet the designers put a lot of thought into their size though. You can imagine them going "Not too much.... a good hand full at least, be tasteful but titillate...."

Levine said "It's disappointing when appearance becomes a focus for conversation, because that was never my intent and it's sort of a disincentive. I'd much rather talk about what she's going through as a person, but whatever. They have the right to shout out whatever they want."

This amuses me greatly as the championing a female character's assets has become the thing to do in the gaming industry. Cortana from Halo, Miranda and co from Mass Effect, Bayonetta and a whole host of other female leads have their boobs emphasised. Not to forget a whole legion of characters from the Final Fantasy series.

Beauty is where you find it and Levine has this to say:

"To me, the most important thing with Elizabeth was just honestly her eyes because, you know, they're somewhat exaggerated and the reason for that is because there's so much expression you can do there, with her eyes, and you see her often at a great distance".

Stop digging bro, stop digging.

Casey Hudson talks ME3 ending

Casey Hudson of Bioware reckons Mass Effect 3's ending will be one that "gives people a great ending".

"We want to end the trilogy really strongly, and that's the most important thing, and then we have a few ideas for things we can think about doing in the future. But we're okay with making it difficult for ourselves, because the most important thing is giving people a great ending," said Hudson. "We want to do more stuff with Mass Effect, of course, and I'm sure we will... But we're not really thinking about that right now. We want to make sure we give people the best ending to Mass Effect 3 that we can."

So hopefully that means we simply won't have to shot the eyes out and arms of a Reaper that looks like a demented Terminator robot?

Sunday, January 8

Just the Master Chief

master chief 117 halo 4

Just a cool shot of the Master Chief - I think this came out around the time of the Halo 4 announcement.

Saturday, January 7

Tip: How to use the Boomshot on Gears of War 3

The Boomshot
Boooooom! say the Boomers on Gears of War 3 - it's their signal to you that a massive bomb blast is headed in your direction - time to duck into some cover and return fire with your lancer right?

If you are playing Gears of War on its notoriously difficult Insane Mode you may not be so keen to take on a Boomer or Drudge with simply a lancer rifle. You might want to soften them up with a grenade first - or you could get one of you squad members to do your dirty work for you!

The trick is to arm your squad member with some heavy firepower - that way you can utilise their special ability of unlimited ammo - so for instance if you load all three squad members up with the boom-shot there's a good chance during a fire fight at least one of them will chose to use the boomshot and increase the damage dealt out to the lambent horde!

I'd recommend that everytime you get a chance to pick up the boomshot during a campaign session you should do so and then immediately give it to an A.I. team mate. So every time you fell a Boomer, take their weapon and do the weapon swap. Also there's plenty of times you come across a handy weapons cache so stock up then too - you can kit out your entire squad at the times!

How to give you team mates the boomshot:

1. To exchange weapons or share ammo in any mode, move within close range of a squad mate.

2. Aim at said squadmate with the Left Trigger button and press [Y] to share ammo

3. [X] to swap your primary weapon or [A] to swap your secondary weapon.

4. Pistols and grenades may not be swapped...

Obviously you can swap any weapons you like, it doesn't have to be the boomshot - however on insane mode I think having your A.I. driven squad mates of having the option to use it increases you own chance of survival - some of the set pieces in GOW3 can be absolutely brutal so why not up your odds of making it through?

Using the boomshot effectively is also an art in itself. While you can use the reticle turning red as a rough guide that you have an accurate shot lined up, for further distances you may need to lead the shot a bit, or estimate  the angle you'll fire at - the boomshot's projectiles fall over time so you may need to aim higher than you think. 

Be wary of using the boomshot at very close quarters - you're likely to blow yourself up!

Want more? Here's a tip on taking down the Armoured Kantus with the Hammer of Dawn.

1 million unique viewers can't be wrong!!!

Well bugger me! Gears of Halo has hit the 1 million unique individual visitors mark. I'm giving myself a pat on the back and one for you as well dear readers!

This blog was started in late 2009 in anticipation of the release of Halo Reach - and what fun that was stalking following Bungie's every move and uttering. Since then, the site become 'Gears of War' and delved more widely into the gaming universe - and Hl. alo fans have come along for the ride, with the odd Mass Effect and Gears fan joining in as well. Below is a recap of the best of year to see where we actually went!

That first big spike in the graph is the release of Halo 4. Some random spikes are when HBO has kindly linked to us (such as the link to A Noble Hunt). Cheers guys! Every time something awesome is announced Halo wise, there's often a little growth in traffic too.

Who knows what we'll do during the next year or next 1 million unique readers but I say thanks to those who've come and helped make what is I think an interesting and perhaps useful corner of cyberspace.


Jimmy Jangles

My Favourite Blog Posts:

These posts are favourites because they are amusing or perhaps represented a cool thing that happened in the gaming universe this year.

Should Sheppard and Ashley Williams get back together? - This is a real issue people!
Star Trek Fans Nude Bike Ride WTF? – Trekies seem to love this page….
Top 10 Worst Cos Play Costumes Fails - fail, fail, fail
Halo 4 announced at E3 - Hoora!
Bungie's MMO is ONI - No fate but what Bungie makes
Destiny: Is Bungie making a MMO? - as above
HBO indirectly confirms Destiny ;) - as above...

Original musings of a sort:

What could Gears of War 4 offer gamers? - What becomes of the Gears franchise now the Trilogy is done?
Quit bitching about paying for DLC you already have - and just play the game sucker.
Two Cranes and a Halo short film - Wellington. It rocks. So does PJ.
Have you noticed? - well have you?
I heart you Bungie - I declare my love for Bungie. To date my love is unrequited. Did I spell that right?
Gears of War 3's Insane Mode – I wax lyrical about the awesomeness that is Gears of War’s Insane Difficulty setting. Do try it.

Popular costume play posts:

Mystique Nude Cosplay Photos
Harley Quinn Cosplay Costumes
Body Painted Mass Effect Girls Nude
Body Painted Super Heroines - Does it mean they are nude?
Power Girl Cosplay Outfits
Jean Grey / Dark Phoenix Cos Play Photos

Game Reviews:

I only buy very few new games – I tend to stick to what I know – suffice to say here’s the new games I played this year:

Bioshock 2 – the sequel to Bioshock did the deed and held up as a very solid sequel.
Gears of War 3 – Gears 3 come out and kicked some ass.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary – Halo CE Redux has a lot going for it!
Mass Effect 2 – I was late to the party on this game but it was a great party!

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Halo fans might recognise this Huragok is looking for love in the wrong place! This comic was created by Idleduck.http://idleduck.com/?p=109

ODST Revisited

Forward Unto Dawn has commenced a series of posts on Halo 3: ODST - starting with Prepare to Drop - it's an articulate insight into setting the scene for what was a pretty cool Halo game.

Here's an excerpt:

"It’s great how we get to see a full tactical insertion from the ODST’s perspective, from the moment the HEV’s closes to the moment the Rookie steps out, even if things didn’t go according to the plan. The genesis for this fantastic cutscene may have existed as far back as the Halo 3 beta when players found out that via glitching on the level Valhalla, they could ascend from the green rolling hills of the level up high into the atmosphere where the sky would darken and the stars would become more visible. It seems the technology was within the Halo 3 engine all along and now full realised in “Prepare to Drop”.

Maybe they'll answer the question of why the intended title of Halo 3: Recon was changed.....

Wednesday, January 4

Bioware's Mass Effect 3 Money Making Machine starts its engine

Bioware's Mass Effect 3 Money Making Machine starts its engine. 

What with everyone complaining about actually having to pay for DLC I thought I'd be cheeky and point out that the Mass Effect cash cow has begun to be milked. Bioware has announced some 'pre-order goodies':

"Prepare for the Reaper invasion today and secure your pre-order gear! Shrug off enemy fire with the N7 Defender Armor and its amplified shields then drop the opposition with high caliber fire from the N7 Valkyrie Assault Rifle. When the enemy has overwhelming numbers bring the M55 Argus Assault Rifle into battle and unleash rapid-fire bursts to even the odds. If the enemy gets too close, stop them dead with the AT12 Raider Shotgun and its superior firepower"

SO will you be shelling out some coin?

Here's the AT12 Raider Shotgun as used in game:

FAQ on the pre-order from Bioware

Is the M55 Argus Assault Rifle included with the N7 Warfare Gear and Origin pre-order packs?

Yes, the M55 Argus Assault Rifle is a channel wide offer and available to everyone who pre-orders.

I don’t have a GameStop or EB Games in my country, where can I get the N7 Warfare Gear?

A full breakdown of regions and availability of pre-order offers is coming soon. You can also check with your local retailer for more information about available pre-order offers.

If I already pre-order the N7 Collector’s Edition, do I have to pre-order again to receive the pre-order items?

No, if you have already pre-ordered your pre-order will rollover and you will be automatically granted the items.

How do I unlock the items once I have pre-ordered?

Redemption methods may vary depending on platform and region. Please check with your retailer on how to redeem your pre-order content.

When will the pre-order content be available?

The pre-order items will be available on March 6th when Mass Effect 3 releases.

Mass Effect: Homeworlds to feature James Vega

James Vega: Has not seen Pulp Fiction
Are you gonna buy Mass Effect: Homeworlds?

Written by Mass Effect 3 lead writer Mac Walters, each installment of Homeworlds will feature  one of the main characters of the what is possibly going to be the 2012's biggest game.

The above picture is apparently the cover of the first issue of series, featuring newbie to the Mass Effect Universe, James Vega.

Tuesday, January 3

Monday, January 2

Tips about using ammo in Gears of War 3

Tips about using ammo in Gears of War 3

So like I got horribly stuck somewhere on Act III of Gears this weekend. It's just before you to get the cable car / gondala tower and a giant stalk comes up of the ground with a whole lot of lambents and drudges and the those fucking little dog / wretch like things that sneak up on you like no one business. Insane Mode, it's a bitch.

I kept dying as I ran out of ammunition. So low on ammo and with no hope of getting through solely by chainsawing the guts out of my foes alone, I finally remembered to use the 'weapon swap' feature with my comrades Anya, Jace and that really annoying one. It worked a treat - I had that extra few bullets that I needed to hold out againt the bastards and finally got past after some trial and error. Speaking of chainsaws, how come they never flood the saw's engine in the game?

Some hints about using ammo

  • Try and stock up on ammo before you get to the next check point
  • Use the Weapon Swap function as need be
  • You can swap like with like (they may have more ammo in the same weapon)
  • You can hand over an empty weapon too
  • In a tight spot, you still should pick up ammo - pick you moment though!
  • In a tight spot, if you can do it without dying, weapon swap - but be wise in your selection, don't take the sawn off shot gun for example if you're in a long range gun fight. 

A good tactical trick is to arm your Gears squad mates with Boomshots as well, especially on Insane Mode. It's a trick I learnt in Halo - arm your soldiers with the rockets and they had unlimited ammo - it stands to reason this should work in Gears of War 3. Every so often you come across a weapons cache - that's your chance to load up the boom shots....

In case you don't know how to swap weapons in Gears 3 here's the official way:

1. To exchange weapons or share ammo in any mode, move within close range of a squad mate.
2. Aim at that squadmate with [Left Trigger] and press [Y] to share ammo

3. [X] to swap your primary weapon or [A] to swap your secondary weapon. 

4. Pistols and grenades may not be swapped...