Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bringing young kids into comic books

It was cold and wet outside, sitting in my truck I look over at Cj, my oldest son, he looks excited, yet very curious. I myself am nervous, I haven't stepped into this place in over ten years.

Cj shifts in his seat with anticipation, asking me a second time if we are going to go inside. Leaning over I explain to him the rules for going in. How to handle the merchandise, to be quite and try to point to what he wants to look at. I try to explain that the items in this shop are not just colorful stories but so much more to some people.

He nods his head silently glancing from me to the store fingering the button on the only thing left holding in him his seat. Grinning proudly I tell him to hop out and we walk up to the store...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Warhammer 40k: The new army

It had been quite a long while since I had played Warhammer 40K. In fact my last game was with my Grey Knight army against some Tyranids that my friend played over 3 years ago. I had sold off a lot of my 40K stuff, as I became enamored with Warmachine and its playstyle over the weird rules that 40K used. Eventually though all my miniature gaming died off thanks to World of Warcraft and its life sucking habits. I lost touch with my gaming group and sold off a majority of my collections.
So it was last weekend that I entered the GW Battle Bunker (Chicago location) to scope out a sale going on and to see a friend of mine that worked at that location. Oddly enough I ended up NOT really buying any of the sale items and instead walked out with a small restart to the game in the form of an Eldar attack force. The Eldar army was the FIRST army that I built back in 1995 and the first army I really played. I had since gotten away from them and with their new codex I wanted to try the new rules and really get into some of those new models. (MORE after the break)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cryptic releases Star Trek Online Borg info

Cryptic today announced more information regarding those Borg Raid-i-sodes they talked about when addressing further content releases right after the game launched. They actually put out a detailed list of the episodes in the information showing each plot synopsis. I will include it after the break to avoid spoilers.

Raid-i-sodes were originally described as
If you're looking for a challenge, look no further than our upcoming Raid Episodes, which combine bold storytelling with our toughest five-man missions yet. These are just a few of the Raid Episodes we'll be rolling out over the coming weeks, beginning a week after launch. Raid Episodes are available to both Federation and Klingon players.

There is also a trailer for all this which I will include BEFORE the break.

Art in Motion: Cartoons for Big Kids!

I know normally we reserve the movie posts for Fridays but I wanted to point out two amazing movies that I got the chance to watch with my oldest Son this week.

The concept for both movies is simple but brings with it such a diverse movie watching experience. You have a collection of artist's/animator's who all focus on the same world and characters creating them in their own way. Each animator would do his/her own short story involving the world and character.

The stories themselves even bring a deeper sense to the world or maybe just focus on one aspect of the characters that is not normally visited in the normal media. More including trailers after the break!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards winners in lame categories

Thanks to Troy Goodfellow over at Flash of Steel I was alerted to the fact that the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards had gone off without a hitch and the winners were...interesting to say the least.

To say that I have become, over time, less and less enamored with these annoying game award ceremonies would be an understatement. These decisions here though really cemented that fact.

First up we have a JOINT award for RPG and MMO of the year. Yeah sure, those two are NOTHING alike and can easily be lumped together right (sarcasm folks)?

The winner? A game with no multiplayer. Dragon Age Origins. Umm  ok. What makes it massive that crappy Bioware social page that is always in beta?

Next we have the winner that Troy was writing about in his post. Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year. Brutal Legend.

I am just going to go off over here and shake my head.

Now I don't want to say that these people ONLY looked at console gaming but....did they? If you read the description of what they did to come to these conclusions you have to wonder how Brutal Legend is the winner in that category and how they think Dragon Age is a massively multiplayer game.
Since 1996, the Interactive Achievement Awards have recognized outstanding games, individuals and development teams that have contributed to the advancement of the multi-billion dollar worldwide entertainment software industry. More than 160 titles were played and evaluated by members of the Academy’s Peer Panels.

LAS VEGAS – February 18, 2010 – Escaping with 10 outstanding awards, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Sony Computer Entertainment) ran over the competition at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards®. Hosted by stand-up comedian and video game enthusiast Jay Mohr at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

Winners are after the break, so make sure to click that MORE button!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Starcraft 2 NDA lifted

Just got this email from Hicks (who is in the beta that lucky bastard) who has informed me that Blizzard has lifted the NDA on their new RTS. This tells me that they are happy with the game overall in its current state and to me it seems that they are moving to tweaks and unit balance now. This is my guess as to why the beta is being expanded.

We have uploaded some Starcraft 2 beta shots to our FLICKR account here
We’re pleased to announce that we have decided to lift the confidential nature of the StarCraft: II Beta Test. This means that beta testers are free to show and discuss the game with your friends, as well as take screenshots, record gameplay videos, etc. So feel free to share that amazing game you just played. Enjoy!

Does the new Angelina movie look like a female Bourne Identity?

I don't know but I am thinking I have seen this before...I mean I could be wrong... (

On the plus side WE HAVE A Liev Schreiber SIGHTING

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A short musical interlude

I am going to type up a non gaming post here so be warned!

This post is about music. To be precise Breaking Benjamin's new release Dear Agony.

That Lights Out song on the new BB album to me most shows what I like about the band, unfortunately its the 8th song in. The new album is growing on me but that song sticks out as what they should release as the next single. Instead they released Give Me A Sign which is ok but kinda pussifies them on the radio. You see this happen a lot particularly with bands like Shinedown where they don't release their most rocking songs for fear of not having a broad audience. This is something I just do not get. The entire Breaking Benjamin album goes in a decent sequence although I am not a big fan of the theme song from the movie Surrogates that they did.

If you look back on their past albums it seems they have mellowed out quite a bit compared to early releases like Saturate and We Are Not Alone. Back then they caught some flak for sounding like other bands but I think that the lead singers voice and range does enough to separate them now. They have certainly acquired a new type of sound but some songs on the new album harken back to the heavier days (for instance Lights Out). The new album flows better than Phobia, their previous release, only we don't get such a standout tune like Diary of Jane of this new effort.

Overall I will give the album 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. This album is much easier to listen to than Phobia which broke up its own flow by putting an odd mix of songs on it in a bad order. I am able to just put Dear Agony in the player (or iPod as you kids call it) and just let it go through the whole album. On Phobia there were certainly songs I would skip. I really wish the band would go back to their roots and put forth an effort like we saw on Saturate, but I also understand that bands change over time and that is just the way the industry works. Their heaviest album is still We Are Not Alone. However on the music scene today you are forced to adapt as many bands start to sound alike. Even Chevelle, on their new album Sci Fi Crimes, really stretches the sound of their music.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I played a little AoC, FE, NHL 10 and DoD. Got all that?

This was a pretty weird weekend for me gaming wise. I was all over the place in terms of MMO's, one console game, and a ton of strategy games which is what I wanted to get back into since I am no longer that "one MMO only" guy. Since I work at a bank, I had President's day off and oddly enough I did nothing early on in the day Monday and did not start playing anything until late in the afternoon. Friday night, Saturday and Sunday during the day were a different story however.

So since cutting back on my MMO time I have branched out and discovered a wealth of games that had long been abandoned on my hard drive or in my Steam profile. The major problem with strategy games is, like an MMO in levels 1-20, if it does not grab you after the tutorial and first few turns chances are you will not return to it. Case in point for me lately was the clunkiness of the Empire Total War turn based aspect, the over micromanagement of CIV 4 city building, and the plodding speed of Sins of a Solar Empire. I just attacked two of the more popular strategy games of our time but to be honest I really just did not like Sins of a Solar Empire. Despite repeated attempts to get into it I still reverted back to GalCiv 2. I guess it is just the turn based lover in me that prefers that type of gameplay. MORE AFTER THE BREAK

Friday, February 12, 2010

View a movie Friday for 2-12-2010

This has been a busy week for me and I have had little to no gaming however I did manage to knock out 2 movies this week. One was Pandorum with Dennis Quaid the other was Gamer with Gerard Butler. Pandorum I loved, Gamer not so much. Therefore here is the trailer from Pandorum.

What movies have the readers watched this week, if any? I have some new ones coming in Netflix for tomorrow so I think I will be able to get more done this weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fallen Earth gets a huge patch and new login screen

I just managed to fire it up today in the afternoon but the servers are still down. However the new login screen was visible. I am not sure if this was added this patch or sometime last week since I haven't had the chance to login until today.

Anyway here is a small screenshot of the login look now:

The patch was no slouch either and is HUGE with tons of fixes and additions. Take a look at the full notes here

Some of the notable additions are:

Deadfall Point

Set up by Grahams who have outlived their usefulness to LifeNet, this small camp nestled on the edge of desolation is now focused on reaching a relic of the old world deep in the wastes. To do so, they must activate some of GlobalTech's remaining devices, and for this they have made all manner of alliances. Surrounded by radiation, mutants and paranoia, Deadfall Point may be the gateway to a new world or a dead end.

Salvager Fortress

Salvagers have been attacking Odenville for weeks and now they are making plans to stay. Having erected a fortress near Simsonville, the Salvagers continue to assault Odenville while marshaling their forces within their new base.

Some animations were fixed as well


· Changed the base poses for two-handed weapons
· Updated the grenade-throwing animation to work with the new sound.
· Updated the range of motion animations for the ATV and the MTC. You can now aim correctly on these vehicles.
· Added new hand poses for one-handed weapons.
· Updated all melee weapons to fit with the new poses.

Servers are still down as of the time of this post and the usual forum idiots are already posting things like "WUT HAPPENED TO THE 4.7656545 HOUR DOWNTIME YOU PROMISED ITS NOW 4.873434343!!!11" so I was not able to get in and take a look around. I am going to a basketball game tonight so more than likely I will not be able to login until this weekend.

For the rest of you however, enjoy the new patch.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Steam hardware survey results

The Steam results for January 2010 were what we could expect to see. They are up on the Steam site here:

The thing that got me was the sharp rise of Windows 7 64 bit operating systems as it creeps up behind 32 bit XP. Windows XP 32 bit still sits at 42% of the machines surveyed but Windows 7 64 bit made a steep climb up almost 4 % passing Vista and grabbing almost 20% of the machines.

Anyway just something to skim over during what has been a slow week for me here at The Banstick.
Each month, Steam collects data about what kinds of computer hardware our customers are using. The survey is incredibly helpful for us as game developers in that it ensures that we're making good decisions about what kinds of technology investments to make. Making these survey results public also allows people to compare their own current hardware setup to that of the community as a whole.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How Dungeons and Dragons Online is holding up as F2P

I am still pretty much a noob in this game, having only gotten one character to level 4 and I deleted him out of disgust a while back. However a few years ago I really didn't understand DDO and how it was to be played because I was too much of a WoW head. Now I absolutely love this game because it plays like a console game with depth and is really solo and group friendly. With the latest patch released the other day I went back to see the new solo mode and to see if I had any points in the DDO Store.

The game is free and in my opinion one of the coolest free games on the market because you can tailor the way you play. Not only is there a new solo mode but there is also now the ability to buy dungeons as you level so that the store is not always looming over your head.

The new "casual mode" makes the game even easier for anti social MMO players giving them the option to complete some of the harder missions without have to use the dreaded "socialize" word. I don't think that grouping will be an issue any longer because since it went free to play the game is PACKED with people. What mileage you get out of people that are now playing for free and probably think that Dungeons and Dragons is a cartoon from the 1980's is anyone's guess but the people ARE there in the game. This is a testament that going to free to play is not always a bad thing which is something struggling games like Vanguard should think about. I know one of the problems back a year or so ago I had with the game is that there were not that many still playing. This meant all the low level content was next to impossible to finish if it sent me into a dungeon that was part of a major story arc.

I used the DDO store and it could not have been easier. You simply click the store icon, it opens up and only shows you things your current character can buy and use in game. You put what you want in the cart and check out and the item is put into your inventory. There are races, classes, potions, dungeons and all sorts of things to buy in there. (more after the break including a video!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Star Trek Online forums make me want to do this.... the majority of the visiting posters there.

Really....please give the moderators there the ability to just PHASER-HEAD-SPLODE that place and lets start over. Leaving the guides and the nice stickies intact. Either that or those forums need to be restricted to paying players much like DDO had to do when things were nuts over there.

View a movie Friday: Surrogates

So last night I sat down with my loving wife to watch a movie. We rented Surrogates staring Bruce Willis. First let me say that I really enjoyed the movie, it had a very decent pace with some very interesting twists and even a couple of moral questions.

Worth checking out if you have time!

The trailer after the break.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pirates of the Burning Sea condenses

One of my predictions for last year was the closing of PoTBS. Not because I hate the game but mainly because it just is not doing well. Although my prediction was off, the game finally announced today that the population (or lack thereof) was finally being moved and servers were being reduced to 2.
Important Information Regarding Pirates of the Burning Sea™ Account

Ahoy, Pirates of the Burning Sea Captains!

To push things in the right direction, we've decided to condense the current population onto two servers. On March 5, 2010 at approximately 12:01 AM PST, we will close the following servers: Blackbeard, Defiant, and Rackham. Beginning on February 5, 2010 at approximately 12:01 AM PST, you can transfer your characters from the affected servers onto one of the two remaining servers, Antigua or Roberts. At this time, character creation will be disabled on the Blackbeard, Defiant, and Rackham servers. We hope these changes will provide you with an even more enjoyable Pirates experience.

That was the main gist of the email I got today in my inbox and I was surprised that the game is going to TWO servers. That is a huge reduction in what they had and should indeed pick up the community feel of the game. When I logged in to check and see how it was doing last month I was surprised that they had as many servers as they did. To me it seemed odd and rather like shooting themselves in the foot ala Warhammer Online.

This is also less confusing to a new player (if they have any) and removes the need to provide these really annoying "roll this nation and get a bonus" thing they had to do all the time. Heck who knows now maybe the game WILL pick up and become more lively. I never saw a single person when I played.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Oscar nominations are out, field spreads to 10

Well the years Oscar nominations are out and it looks like Hurt Locker and Avatar have the early lead on categories.

Don't forget that this year the field is spread to 10 movies to liven it up a bit. Among those nominated are District 9 and An Education which I am sure would not have snuck in there if the awards had remained the same. Avatar should not be nominated for Best Picture. It was all flash an no substance but with Hollywood who knows what will win.

Anyway here are the nominations as announced earlier today:

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Monday, February 1, 2010

Global Agenda launches

The action shooter online game has officially launched after what I would consider a less than enjoyable head start which I got nothing out of.

People complained about Star Trek Online this weekend but let me tell you I had a MUCH harder time getting in to play GA over the past two days and now my head start opportunity is wasted. I don't care too much because this game was never going to be a main focus however I was not even able to reach the level 10 cap imposed on head starters. Part of this was my fault yes. I was out of action all of Saturday and did not really get around to playing too much Friday when it went up after our podcast (episode 6 available here).

The servers were down A LOT. I mean many many times. When they were up I was either away from keyboard or sleeping for the most part. This coupled with Star Trek Online and my Global Agenda look see failed miserably. As such I cannot offer too much insight into the game at this point other than what Darryl and I discussed in the last two podcasts here at the Banstick. The game is live now so all bets are off for being nice if the servers keep going down.

As a primarily PVP game with some PVE elements thrown in for slow times, Global Agenda depends a lot upon your teammates and working together much like Team Fortress 2. This being the case I had some absolutely miserable matches on Friday, sometimes losing 800 to 60 or so. Darryl and I did have one match where our team came back from being down about 600 to 200 and we won in the last few seconds. Moments like that are few and far between. I find games that rely on this element too frustrating and annoying. People are generally idiots in this game, especially once you get the more immature players in there and it just gets on my last nerve. Hopefully the persistent feature gets worked on and people do not mind paying the subscription fee to use it. This should lead to a more mature crew in the conquest areas to team up with.

Overall I do like the idea of the game and I have fun in the universe and the PVE missions, but when I get into the PVP I had the most absolute pure stream of bad luck I have witnessed. Not even in Planetside did I suffer through such a mass of people unwilling to work together to achieve a common goal.