Category Archives: Developers

Dragon Age: Origins free on Origin through 10/14/14

Attention, Steam users: Today might be the day you stop making fun of Origin and grab an account. For the next five days, EA is offering the game Dragon Age: Origins for free. Not a demo, not a free trial; it’s simply ‘On the House’ — and once it’s added to your user library, it’s yours forever. If you didn’t already have it but were always interested in giving it a shot, today might just be your day.

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The free download does not include any of the game’s DLC, but after not spending $20 for it, at least the extras will be more affordable.

If medieval RPGs aren’t your thing… Well, Bejeweled 3 is also On the House at the moment, and that’s about as far away from Dragon Age as you can get. Then again there is that whole thing about dragons hoarding treasure, so maybe they’re not as disparate as they appear.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not affiliated with EA or Origin in any way, but I’ll elbow an old granny out of the way to take credit for the graphic I made for this news post. What can I say, I love a bad pun, and this is a bad visual pun.

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ThinkGeek partners with major gaming stores, celebrates with $10 coupon

As if ThinkGeek wasn’t the Tom Nook of nerdy online shopping already, today the web-based merchandise company announced a partnership with several gaming publishers’ official stores, including Bethesda, Eidos, Bioware, and Gearbox. The deal also includes the official web stores of Tomb Raider, Plants vs. Zombies, and Forza Motorsport.

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If I had all of ThinkGeek’s money to spend on this sale, I’d be smiling too.

What does this mean to you? Glad you asked!

From now until 11:59pm ET 9/29/14, all of these newly allied stores will accept the coupon code “TIMMY” for $10 off an order of $20 or more. The code can be used as many times as you want, at as many of the partnered sites as you’d like, so now may be a great time to get in some early holiday shopping. The only exceptions to the promotion are pre-sale items, deposit items, and Bethesda’s discounted hoodies.

This coupon only works at the partnered sites, not at ThinkGeek itself.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not an employee of ThinkGeek or any of their new affiliates. I’m just a poor blogger that lets them suck money out of me like some sort of financial vampire.

Nintendo announces early SSB4 demo access for select Club Nintendo members

In another example of Club Nintendo getting it right, members who’ve actually shilled out enough money to have become platinum-level members for 2014 have a chance of playing the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros 3DS a week before anyone else.

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While there’s no guarantee that any given platinum member will snag the coveted access, those that do get the e-mail will receive four separate demo codes. If you have a buddy that’s already reached platinum status this year, now would be a good time to remind him or her of all the times you gave them a ride or bought them a taco. A demo code is always an acceptable way to pay back a taco bill.

Personally, I think Nintendo should be giving these early access codes to all platinum CN members. In order to reach platinum status, a member has to earn 600 coins in a CN-calendar year. Most games — new games, that is — net 20-50 coins, depending on platform and age; consoles net 100 or so. The CN calendar begins July 1st. It is now September 12th, aka roughly 2½ months into the CN-calendar. That means that, unless they picked up some codes on eBay already, these members have already spent hundreds of dollars on hardware and software.

If that’s not automatically worthy of early access to a demo, I don’t know what is.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not affiliated with Nintendo in any official way, and my only affiliation with Club Nintendo is just as a rewards member. Sadly, I am not a platinum member by a long shot (I think my account currently has like 20 coins).

Club Nintendo offers free 2-disc soundtrack for registering both versions of SSB

Are you the type of gamer that will buy multiple copies of the same game on different platforms, much to the bemusement of your peers? Well if you maintain the habit with the upcoming Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS, you’ll at least get a reward this time.

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No details have been added yet to indicate a deadline for registration (especially since the Wii U version still doesn’t have a specific release date), but the website promises more information is soon to follow. For now, you can head over to the promotion site to listen to samples of the included music while you put both copies of the game on your holiday gift list.

Remember, kids: If your parents balk at buying the same game twice, just tell them you’ll be getting a third present from Santa Iwata, too!

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Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll know what that means.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not an employee of Nintendo or in any way affiliated with Club Nintendo. If I was I probably could’ve gotten a better image of the CD than just taking a screenshot of the website.

Customer Service: Nintendo’s Doing it Right

While July 1st typically conjures thoughts of impending fireworks and barbecues for the average American, there is a certain breed of nerd for whom it’s New Years Day.

Club Nintendo, aka one of the sneakiest vehicles for market research on the planet, is a free membership program offered by Nintendo to its consumers. By registering the PIN codes included with specific game titles, gamers can earn coins that can then be used to for reward items in exchange for answering a short survey. If a user manages to accumulate 300 coins within one calendar year, that user achieves Gold status; those that earn twice that amount achieve Platinum. For whatever reason, Club Nintendo’s calendar begins its year on the first of July. This is significant because it also resets the counter tracking new coins. The previously earned coins are still there, and can still be spent on rewards, but each member’s progress toward achieving Gold or Platinum status is returned to zero after June 30th.

Well, last night was Club Nintendo’s new year’s eve, and I realized that I was still 70 coins shy of achieving Gold for the year. If it was purely a pat-on-the-back sort of ranking, I wouldn’t care if I reached it or not, but Club Nintendo offers a special free gift for its Gold and Platinum members each year. So far I’d managed to reach at least Gold for the last six years, and I wasn’t about to let 230 coins go to waste. Looking over my game shelf, I noticed that I still hadn’t opened New Super Mario Bros. U, which came bundled with my WiiU. I figured that it’d at least get me a big chunk of the way toward my goal (especially since it also contained the Luigi expansion), so I shredded the plastic wrap and cracked open the case — only to find it absent of a PIN code.

Figuring the PIN was simply missing, I decided to call up Club Nintendo to have it manually added to my account. I scoured the website and tracked down the toll free number, and after wading through the menu system, I found myself on hold to speak with a representative.

And that’s when I discovered that Nintendo is brilliant.

Many of you will recognize this as the daytime theme to Hyrule Field in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As it turns out, it’s also the hold music on Nintendo’s hotline.

This is nothing short of genius on their part. Ocarina of Time is not only one of Nintendo’s most wildly successful titles, but it’s considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time. There’s a very good chance that the people calling them up will be at least mildly familiar with the song, and upon realizing that it’s a tune from such a beloved title, they’ll probably be in a better mood. This is exactly what happened to me when I was on the phone last night; I can’t even tell you how long I was on hold, because I was so giddy over the fact that a Zelda song was being used as the hold music that I spent my time jamming along in my seat instead of getting impatient or annoyed.

Furthermore, my attitude once I got to talk to a representative was significantly better than it probably would’ve been otherwise. I ultimately received bad news from the gent helping me; apparently bundled games aren’t eligible for Club Nintendo points, but I was in such high spirits, the news really didn’t bother me that much. Instead I thanked the guy for his help and told him that the hold music was a very pleasant surprise. He chuckled and said that they get that a lot.

In light of what I learned last night, I’m kinda tempted to start calling up other game developers just to see if they too have done anything fun with their hold music. It really is something that more companies need to adopt; if someone’s calling customer service, they obviously have a problem, and given that some waits can be upwards of an hour or more, having good music can probably go a VERY long way toward making customers feel better about their outcomes, even if they didn’t get what they wanted.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am in no way affiliated with Nintendo, Club Nintendo, or Legend of Zelda. I’m just a geek that found myself wanting to hook up my N64 after I got off the phone with customer service.

Father’s Day: Blood vs. Electricity

Father’s Day is often characterized by imagery of backyard barbecues, early morning fishing, and two little kids hugging their daddy from either side. Candies, golfing equipment, barcaloungers, and ties that will never, ever be worn to work make for popular gifts. Department stores slap the phrase “#1 Dad” on just about anything that can be imagined, guaranteeing that you can remind your father of his status no matter what his interests are.

I, however, did not engage in any of those things Sunday. I bought my father a card, as I do every year, but that was the extent of our activities for the day. My relationship with my father has always been very… iffy. Between his intimidating, military presence and my meek and people-pleasing childhood outlook, we never really had a strong foundation to start out on. He came off as cold, judgemental, and clearly favoring my brother. I couldn’t make him laugh when I tried to entertain him, but boy did he laugh anytime I was embarrassed. Rather than telling me he loved me, the phrase I heard at the end of every conversation was, “Keep your grades up.” As for video games, I never felt so much disapproval as when I dared to bring games to his house, and he and his wife called my decision to study game design “stupid” two days before my first class. As of an argument over a series of lies he’s been telling for the last four years, my father and I rarely speak anymore.

Which is why I chose to spend the holiday with this guy — and learned a few things about myself.

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(Warning: Major spoilers ahead.)

Read the rest of this entry

Old Year’s Eve: The End of the Year of Luigi

Every dog may have its day, but every plumber gets its year — and as of tomorrow, the Year of Luigi will have officially come to a close.

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Nintendo’s year-long celebration of the oft-overlooked Mario brother came with many festivities, including special fan events and a plethora of Luigi-themed games and accessories. Select gamers were even able to snag a limited edition 3DS XL featuring Mario’s beloved  younger brother.

Of course, there’s a lot that the Year of Luigi didn’t bring, as well —  namely, profits. Nintendo took a hard hit in 2013, reducing their expected Wii U sales figures to less than one third of the original estimate. The sluggish results ultimately provoked Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata to slash his own salary in penance for the company’s performance.

It’d be a stretch to say the disappointing sales are specifically Luigi’s fault just because they happened on his watch, but it’s certainly an amusing idea given the nature of his character. Luigi always manages to get the short end of the stick, no matter how hard he tries or how much he’s set up to succeed. The suggestion that the Year of Luigi sucked the profits out of Nintendo so hard he may as well have looted it with the Poltergust 3000 rings a little too true to his track record. No wonder he was able to afford all those mansions this year.

It’s been an interesting year, and with Sega already announcing that we’re now headed into the Year of Sonic, maybe it’s just as well that Luigi’s run has come to an end. My only complaint is that this whole extravaganza is off by one day. Seriously, Nintendo, Luigi’s nickname is GREEN MARIO. The Year of Luigi should’ve started and ended on St. Patrick’s Day.

Obligatory Legal Crap

The Year of Luigi and all associated games, merchandise, and… well, Luigis, are the property of Nintendo, and I am in no way affiliated with them, despite my best efforts. The Year of Sonic is also not mine (although every year of my life since I was seven has been The Year of Sonic), as that belongs to Sega.

St. Patrick’s Day is the property of St. Patrick, I suppose. But I can write about that because I’m Irish.

Fourth Arkham Game Rumored for 2014

So apparently there’s a quasi-confirmed rumor circulating this morning that Rocksteady is quietly working on another Arkham game for the Batman series. Rocksteady hasn’t made any solid announcements as of yet, but for what we have to go on, all I can say is…

ohgodyes

OH PLEASE LET IT BE SO.

I’ve been holding off writing about Batman: Arkham Origins so far because I think I ought to complete the game before I run my mouth, but even from a preliminary standpoint, I can say that the game doesn’t feel quiiiite as tight as its predecessors. Still great, don’t get me wrong, but just not quite as solid. With no other common denominator, I’m guessing this is simply the result of a different studio taking the helm of something they didn’t kick off themselves. I’d be thrilled enough to know I’m getting another Arkham game, but to know it’s also returning to the mother ship? Oh lawd, I’m gettin’ the vapors just thinking about it.

legalcrap

Batman is the property of DC Comics, and by extension, the Arkham games probably belong to them, too. Rocksteady and WB Montreal have a legal hand in there somewhere, but I’m sure DC supersedes them.

To reiterate, this game is NOT confirmed yet, but maybe if we wish upon a star we’ll get a Giftmas miracle.

Nintendo Shuts Down Swapnote Indefinitely

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In a sudden announcement late Halloween night, Nintendo has shutdown use of the Swapnote feature for the 3DS in all available regions. As stated on the official website:

“Nintendo has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in other regions) to exchange offensive material. Nintendo has been investigating ways of preventing this and determined it is best to stop the SpotPass feature of Swapnote because it allows direct exchange of photos and was actively misused.”

There is currently no indication as to whether or not the service will ever return. The abrupt cancellation has been met with mixed reactions, but there seems to be a universal agreement that this is why we can’t have nice things.

legalcrap

Swapnote is the property of Nintendo, as evidence by the fact that they’ve quite literally packed it up and gone home.

Call of Duty Executive Producer Says CoD Players “Aren’t Gamers”

MarkRubin

“Wait, were you recording that?”

When a friend of mine linked me to this story, my immediate instinct was that this was something akin to the the meltdown between Phil Fish and Marcus Beer. That is, I figured that someone from a commentary standpoint, such as a reviewer or critic or someone on a web show, had made a broad criticism against the CoD fanbase and was receiving backlash. However, it turns out that it’s Infinity Ward’s own Mark Rubin, the executive producer of Call of Duty: Ghosts. As he recently said to OXM:

“It’s kind of a weird, ironic thing to say. They aren’t hardcore gamers, or even gamers, but they play Call of Duty every night. And those guys are going to continue to play regardless of platform. So I think not only will we continue to engage with that existing player base, but we’ll take next gen and see how far we can go with it.”

I get what he’s trying to say. He means that a lot of the people that play Call of Duty don’t play anything other than that, and they’re going to want to keep doing so enough to get a next gen console to continue. However, Mr. Rubin may have seriously shot himself in the foot here, depending on how the CoD audience takes this statement. Some players take their status as ‘hardcore’ or not very seriously as it is, but to go so far as to say members of his audience aren’t gamers at all is pretty outlandish by even the most modest of scales. Generally speaking, if you play games, you’re a gamer. If he’s pissed off enough CoD players with this quote, it could possibly hurt the game’s reception.

I guess we’ll all find out November 5th.

legalcrap

Call of Duty is the property of Activision, who may or may not share Mark Rubin’s opinions. If he really did piss everyone off, they’ll probably pull a massive “I’M NOT WITH HIM!” to distance themselves from Infinity Ward.