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Showing posts from 2009

Buy fast, regret even faster

When the iPhone was lowered from $599 to $399 a few months after its release it caused a small outrage amongst its early customers. The new price made sure that more people can afford one. But everyone who bought it at the $599 price point felt like he was getting screwed by Apple. And of course quite a few who did have the new technical marvel also had a blog about technology where they could vent their anger.

Imagine walking past two stores. In our first scenario you see a car you've always wanted for $10.000. Then you walk past the next store and you see it priced at $12.000. You're happy, you did the smart thing! In the second scenario you see the car at $9.500. The next store has the car at $8.000. You're mad because you feel like you paid too much for the car. Even though you paid less in the second scenario you're not happy.

So I find it weird to see thee huge discounts on games these days. Here's a few examples:
Dragon Age. I've bought Dragon Age a month…

Steam deals of the week

Steam is having one great Christmas bargain period with tons of games in it. Here's a small list of games you should definitely look out for:
Audiosurf - £1.49. If you like both music and games you should give this game a try. You can pick any song from your music collection and a level will be generated. Then you can go and try to set the all time high score for your favorite songs!
Braid - £1.74. Braid is an indie platform game that will have your brains do some overtime. It's a great looking game filled with clever puzzles.
Eidos Everything package - £35. For one low price you get every Eidos game on steam including the recent topper Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's worth it for that game alone but you also get the excellent Hitman games, the new Tomb Raider games, the two Deus Ex classics, Thief: Deadly shadows and a bunch of lesser games.Evil Genius - £1.39.  Be the horror of all James Bond wannabes. Dig a lair and fill it with heinous traps.Star Wars: Knights of the Old R…

Download Limits: a Dinosaur in Modern Times

Age of Conan is having a new offer for new players. Everyone can now try out their game from level 1 to level 20 for free! There are a few small limitations attached but its a nice way to try out the game. Except for one problem... The client is 20 gb and I have a 25 gb download limit per month.

Today it hit the newslines again: "Belgian download limits are enforcing Telenets and Belgacoms duopoly". Belgium is one of the only countries in West Europe that has to deal with limits. Our Northern neighbors, the Netherlands get unlimited Internet for a fraction of our price. The Internet market over here is divided between two major isps, Belgacom and Telenet. Both players are currently having the majority of Belgian digital television, Internet, telephony and mobile phone networks under their control. And they're both having similar limits and price ranges.

How did this happen? Twelve years ago we decided to get an Internet connection. Back then there was a 10 gb limit a mo…

Pugging gets a whole new meaning

Reviving old content is a great way to keep your player base happily playing with a minimal of developing efforts. In the past WoW has seen the introduction of revamped dungeons such as Naxxramas and Onyxia. And now Blizzard has come up with a new way to extend the lifetime of their old content. The newest patch introduces a "Looking for Group" party across servers. This creates a much bigger player base to choose from when forming a pick up group. And they've added two new emblems for every successful random pug you run. So there are new items to be gained from running the old instances and it's easier to find a group for them.

There's also some real new content in the form of three more instances. Using the LFG tool seemed like a great way to try out these instances and the new LFG method. So I queued up for the first, new dungeon and after ten minutes I could join a group. I was pleasantly surprised to see the option to teleport to the instance. Once upon a ti…

Welcome back

Seeing my World of Warcraft account getting hacked wasn't much fun but it does have one positive side. Since I had to pay €15 to get my deleted items back I decided to log in a few times this month and see what changed. I haven't played WoW since April this year so there's quite a bit of new content to go through. And of course I wanted to say hello again to all the friends I haven't spoken to in months.

As I logged in I was quickly greeted by some of my guild members. Time is never standing still so I wasn't surprised to see that my guild looks nothing like it did half a year ago. Roughly half of the people I enjoyed chatting and playing with had all decided to join a guild that was more to their liking. Only the officer team seems to be relatively intact. The player gap has been filled in with lots of new players but it doesn't feel like the same guild. I had a chat with the old officers and my friends from ancient times. In this short time I even got a few g…

Samorost

I won! As one of the first three to send Lewie Procter a meesage I got a free copy of  Samorost 2. Samorost 2 is the sequel to the original game Samorost that can be played for free at the creators website. Amanita Design, the creators of the game, are currently creating a lot of fuzz with their new game Machinarium so I was curious about this game. I quickly retrieved my steam gift and while the sequel was downloading I went ahead and played through the the original game.

Samorost 1 & 2 are classic point and click adventure games. In the first game you're following a cute little fella (see screenshot) trying to save his planet from being crushed by an astroid. The second game has you chasing aliens who kidnapped his dog! There's evil and then there's kidnapping a dog. So I happily went out to help our protagonist save his dog from the clutches of the evil, blue men.

The first thing that drew my attention is the beautifully drawn art. Every scene is filled with lovely…

The Cove

The Cove



Fourty years ago Richard O'Barry was training dolphins for the tv series Flipper. A great job where he could afford a Porsche a year and let's face it, who doesn't love dolphins?  The last thirty years he's been trying to undo what he started back then.

Before Flipper was on television there were three dolphin shows all over the world. After Flipper the demand for these shows began to skyrocket. And each of these places needs dolphins. Where do all these dolphins come from? Do they just voluntarily swim into their dolphinaria like the shows owners would like us to believe?

This movie answers that very question and it's not a pretty sight. Each year 23.000 dolphins are being slaughtered in Japan. The big money is in catching those cute bottlenose dolphins (yes, the ones who look like Flipper) which sell to shows for thousands of dollars each. Doing tricks for food is all they'll be doing for the rest of their lives. And those who aren't cute enough …

Buying overseas

Five years ago when I wanted a game I would walk to the local shop and buy it. Some research might have gone in it to find the cheapest shop in the neighborhood but I'd always get my game in a ten kilometer radius from my home. With the discovery of the internet and finding out about online shopping things have changed quite drastically. It's suddenly possible to buy items from your neighboring countries without leaving your home. We can buy some items cheapler in other countries and some items are priced cheaper here.

The UK seems to have much cheaper prices for books, dvds and PC games. There are tons of book shops in the UK which causes a lot of competition and therefore cheap prices. And of course the English book market is a lot bigger than the Dutch one which allows for cheaper mass production. Translations of movies and games is often cited to defend the higher prices in the Benelux. Lots of movies that I buy from the UK come with Dutch subtitles however and not even t…

You can leave your hat on

You always think that these things only happen to others. You may even think that they should have used better protection. And then one day you get this mail in your box from your guild leader:

Hi there,

I dont know if this email will arrive, but I will try anyway. I saw that your chars came online today.

They are selling all your gear and equipment and they are not answering on guild chat.

I think you are being hacked.


Suddenly it's not someone else who has been hacked. It's you! So I quickly took a  look in my second mailbox account and yes: someone merged my account to a battle.net account. My account has been frozen for half a year so someone must have hacked it and have reactivated it. Next thing I did was checking my characters and my armory page looked like this:




Kind of them to put on my Christmas hat, it's the season!. Everything that a vendor will accept is sold however. After seeing that picture I  really started to worry. They reactivated my account, how much w…

Circumventing the Steam Regional lockin for Europeans

Thiefsie at rps.com found a nice way to get the steam games in pounds.

I tested it and it works!

1) Put ?cc=uk after a title. You'll now see the prices in pound.
2) Change your country to United Kingdom.

That's it, you can now buy the game in pounds.

Possible to save quite some money this way. Left 4 dead 2 costs €37.49 compared to the us £22.5(~€24.5). And the THQ complete pack costs €49.99 as compared to £26.49 (~€29.2).

As always with these things: use at your own risk.
It's probably not going to last very long.

LF1M: healer

A new RPG comes out. Before you can start playing you'll have to decide what class you'll play. For Dragon Age my first choice was to create a DPS warrior. But I refrained from doing so as I had the perfect team in my mind: me tanking, a hot mage to AOE, a sexy nurse to heal and an even sexier rogue to DPS and open chests. Sounds like a good plan, no?

Of course things didn't go as planned. The first character I met was of course a tank which I couldn't replace fast enough. Then I meet misses DPS mage and misses rogue, both of which I'm still happy to have in my main team. I'm now forty hours in the game and my group of NPCs to choose from has tons of warriors. Me, Alistair, a giant with gray hair, the stone golem and a dwarf. Plus two rogues and even a dog who can DPS. And I only have one mage which is best suited for DPS. So I had to let my mage learn the healing skills a few hours into the game to continue playing comfortably. It's possible to play withou…

Something for everyone

Expansion packs for mmorpgs often seem to focus on giving a lot of stuff to the end game players. Those players who have one or two maximum level characters can look forward to playing in new zones or new raiding instances. Players who have played the game for a few months and quit the game before they got to the maximum level won't have anything new to do. The World of Warcraft expansions have been a mixed bag for lowbies. Let's take a look at what those expansions offer for low level players.
The Burning Crusade. There is very little new content for lowbies. Two new starting zones were added (1-20) and one old zone was revamped (35-40). Blizzard tried to trick people into thinking that there was more content by adding two new races. Don't be fooled, once you got your Draenei warrior out of the starting zones you have to do exactly the same content as someone who leveled a human warrior before the expansion. It really does feel like a cheap option to me. You just have to c…

Hiding from the storm

It's hard not to have noticed. Even the Belgian national news had a five minutes article on it. Infinity Ward has finished Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 right before Christmas, the perfect time to launch a game. Sales always spike during the Christmas period so launching your game then is guaranteed to give you big profits. Even crappy games will sell well during this period. In the past, the rush to Christmas has of course lead to unfinished, buggy games that are launched to hit the shelves in time for the big money. It doesn't always pay to launch before Christmas, your buggy game might bankrupt you.

Quite a few games have been moved to 2010. Only the publishers know if it's to avoid the Call of Duty rush which is currently responsible for 57% of all Xbox 360 game sales. So it's not a big leap to think that Call of Duty has something to do with all the delays. In the first half of 2010 we can expect Aliens vs Predator, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Bioshock 2, Mafia 2…

Key Bindings

Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to set the controls of your newly bought game to your liking. I tried out Dead Space two weeks ago. The first thing I always do in a 3D game is rebinding all my actions to the numpad. I've played like that for over ten years. So it annoyed me greatly that I can not rebind any key to the numpad. Bloody hell!

No problem I thought I'll plug in my gamepad and play with that. Only to see that my character keeps on turning. The same problem occurred with the new Batman game. Looks like these games only work with an Xbox 360 controller. No, I'm not gonna spend €30 on a controller for a game I spent €5 on. At least Batman: Arkham Asylum worked flawlessly with the mouse & keyboard. But too often console games are ported in a hurry. Sometimes the port is done so lazily that even the on screen commands aren't changed. If you're playing with a keyboard you'll see "Press x on your controller".

I could use an exter…

Hello Goodbye

These days half the gaming world is playing Call of Duty 5 and the other half is playing Dragon Age. Eighty hours of entertainment for my €35 seems like a much better deal than €45 (€60 in a Belgian retail store...) for the four hours CoD promises so my choice is obvious. So far I've put about fifteen hours in the game and I'm greatly enjoying the experience. There are of course always some complaints...

After a few hours of playing I am finding it strange how Bioware manages to disconnect me from the worlds characters. After a few minutes of playing I got my first companion. One hour later the poor guy is being thrown in the towns deepest dungeon. No problem I thought, I'll just go ahead and slaughter the entire prison guard staff to rescue him! Nobody messes with me. Alas no such options pops up. Hopefully I can go back and save him later on in the game.

Instead of saving my buddy I went off to become a Grey Warden! And hey, I get three new companions so we can together …

Seeing the trees through the forest

Tropico 3 offers a ton of information. You can click on every citizen of your city and see their thoughts. You can see who they're married to and if they have any children. There's information on what political party they belong to or even on how much money they make. A lot of the statistics are presented in fancy graphs. How did the average wages or age of your citizens change since you started? It's all available in a fancy graphs. And it's all useless information which is just there for their fun factor.

It's ironic that in so much information you can not find the information that you really need. I want to know if my citizens are being well fed and how many farms I should build. The only way you can see if you should build more farms or clinics is if you start seeing "3 people have starved/died of poor health care this year". I'd rather see the big starvation coming so I can save my people. There's also no way of knowing in which buildings you…

The forgotten sense

Music is something that's usually just playing in the background of the game or movie. You don't pay any attention to it, it's there and puts you in the right mood. From time to time however, a game comes around with such great music that it's coming to foreground and becomes a reason to enjoy playing the game. Tropico 3 is one of those games and its music is a more then worthy successor to the great music of the original Tropico.

A large part of the atmosphere in Tropico 3 is coming from the great Caribbean music. It really helps to set the mood as Tropico is a one of those games where you spend quite a bit of time just thinking what to do next. Having some great music on while playing makes the waiting process a lot more fun. It would be great if the Tropico 3 game came with its audiotrack on a CD as the music is so great that I'd like to add it to my music collection.

Of course, the track is limited so I might get tired of the music if I play too long. It took …

Biowares missed opportunities

Biowares newest RPG Dragon Age is coming out soon and the reviews are slowly coming in. It's an RPG in the spirit of the old school RGPs and as such it's getting compared to Biowares older games Baldur's Gate 1 & 2. Yet how many of the Dragon Age target audience have played those games? I haven't played them but I've been wanting to play them for a while now. Sadly they are on none of the major online distribution channels.

In comparison, Majesty 2 came out a while ago and the publishers used the old game to create more sales of the sequel. Pre-order Majesty 2 and you get to play the original Majesty for free immediately. I replayed the original game in anticipation of the sequel and it made me want the sequel even more.

Seeing how Baldur's Gate is in the top 5 most wanted games on gog.com I wonder why they do not have a big re-release of Biowares catalogue. There's a niche for classic PC games and the release of a triple A game is the perfect time to …