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Nintendo 3DS Streetpass Weekend Coming Halloween October 22, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Nintendo 3DS and 2DS owners hoping to get a little further in Find Mii or a few more pieces in Puzzle Swap are going to be very happy with what I’m about to tell them.

As you may know, many locations throughout North America, such as Starbucks and McDonalds stores, are set up for wireless connectivity with Nintendo handheld devices, enabling online access while on the go. Even better than that, Nintendo wireless hotspots will keep and store the StreetPass data for as many as six previous users of the service, enabling later users to use the Miis of earlier customers in StreetPass compatible games without the user having to be there.

The limitation to this service is that Nintendo Zone hotspots cannot bring outside users from other locations into locations that they have not physically been in, nor can it provide StreetPass data to the first user to use a hotspot. A few months ago, Nintendo changed that. For just one weekend, Nintendo randomized the StreetPass information of user locations and provided random StreetPass user data from users all across the country to anyone who visited a hotspot. I thought it was pretty successful as it helped users hoping to get Miis from every state or region in their country. Today, Nintendo announced they’ll be doing it again for Halloween.

If you have not been to a Nintendo Zone location before and would like to participate, you’ll need to bring your 3DS or 2DS to any location equipped with an AT&T hotspot. Typically they can be found at Starbucks, McDonald’s, Barnes & Noble, Target, and Best Buy locations among others. Check Nintendo.com for information on where you can find a Nintendo Zone location in your area.

StreetPass Weekend is coming October 31st – November 1st, 2014.

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Halo: Nightfall Cinema First Look October 22, 2014

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Anyone who may have gone into a cinema early to get themselves a decent seat before the movie started is probably familiar with Cinema First Look. It gives a *ahem* first look at upcoming projects in film and television but will on occasion cover the development of something video game related. Today, Microsoft and 343 Industries released this First Look for Halo: Nightfall, a live action Halo TV series they produced for what was intended to be a whole new Microsoft video service.

Halo: Nightfall is launching with Halo: The Master Chief Collection on November 11th, 2014 exclusively on the Xbox One.

Missed the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Demo? Here’s More Ways to Get It October 22, 2014

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Today, Nintendo released download codes for a special demo version of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire to members of the Pokémon Trainer Club Newsletter. If you weren’t lucky enough to get a code emailed to you today, fear not, because Nintendo has just announced a whole new bunch of ways to get yourself a code to play this demo, and we got all the details.

Nintendo is planning several different ways to offer download codes in the next two months including giveaways at selected cinemas, malls, and even another e-mail giveaway for Nintendo Network account holders. Click here to find out all the details.

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is coming in November 2014 exclusively for the Nintendo 2DS and 3DS.

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Codes Being E-Mailed October 21, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Pokémon Trainers unite. The special demo for the upcoming Generation 3 remakes Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire has been released on the Nintendo eShop. As promised, Nintendo has started emailing download codes for the demo to all subscribers to the Pokémon Trainer Club Newsletter. If you’re a member of that newsletter, I would check your e-mail right now.

According to Nintendo, unlike other Nintendo demos, there is no limit to how many times you can play this demo. In fact, Nintendo encourages players to play it daily, as they will be giving out special bonuses for demo members that will carry over to the final versions of the game when they release next month.

There is no word on if this special demo will be released to the eShop for download without the need of a code.

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire are coming November, 2014 exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS.

iOS 8.1 Released, Apple Pay Active October 20, 2014

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Apple has just released a major update to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices running iOS 8. The new update includes a slew of much needed bug fixes, including a promised fix for WiFi connectivity issues some users have been experiencing since iOS 8 launched, but the big addition iOS 8.1 brings is the highly anticipated Apple Pay feature.

Apple Pay, first revealed at the iPhone 6 announcement event, is a new payment system allowing users to securely store and use their Credit Cards on the iPhone 6. This is not only a more secure way of using a credit card, it saves the hassle of digging through your purse or wallet for loose cash to pay for a purchase quickly.

Bank of America has already pledged its support for Apple Pay and today many official iOS apps including the apps for Target and Staples have been updated to support Apple Pay as well.

The 8.1 update is out now for all iOS 8 compatible devices, but for right now only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can use Apple Pay. Apple has also promised support for Apple Pay is coming in the Apple Watch when it releases next year.

The update can take up anywhere from 85-125MB of space to download, and can require as much as 2.6 GB of free space to install without a PC or Mac.

Video Games Live LEVEL 4 Kickstarter Announced October 20, 2014

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Coming off the success of the Video Games Live LEVEL 3 Kickstarter, the Video Games Live Concert series has officially announced their intention to crowdfund their next video game concert album, LEVEL 4.

The organizers promise that the LEVEL 4 album will include music from a wide array of video games including Uncharted, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and a whole lot more. If you would like to read all the details about the album or participate in funding the album, check out their official Kickstarter page for all the details.

If you would like to know more about Video Games Live, check out their official website. If you’re interested in learning more about the Video Games Live LEVEL 3 Album, here’s our review of it!

Halo 2 – Remaking the Legend Documentary Announced October 20, 2014

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The release of Halo 2 ushered in a golden era for online console multiplayer. It became the reason to not only buy the original Xbox but also THE reason to subscribe to Microsoft’s online multiplayer service, Xbox Live.

Ten years later, Microsoft is planning to rerelease Halo 2, along with the other numbered Halo titles, to the Xbox One. To celebrate, Microsoft is making a documentary detailing the phenomenon that was the Halo 2 launch, and all the hard work that has gone into remaking this title for the new console generation. Here’s the trailer.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming November, 2014 exclusively to the Xbox One.

Bethesda Twitchworks Plays The Evil Within October 16, 2014

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The team over at Bethesda did a Let’s Play of the first three chapters of their new survival horror title The Evil Within earlier this week. If you happened to miss the show, they posted the video of the stream up on YouTube today and you can watch it below. Check it out of you dare.

The Evil Within is out now on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4.

Gaming History You Should Know: The Half-Life 2 Leak October 16, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Histories, Uncategorized.
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After producing our recent site video about the long and grueling development of Half-Life 2: Episode 3, I thought I would take another look into Half-Life 2’s past.  We all know that Half-Life 2 launched in 2004 and is considered one of the best PC FPS games ever made, but did you know some people just weren’t willing to wait until the game’s release to play it?  In 2003, an early build of Half-Life 2 leaked onto the internet.  With all the buzz generated from the game’s E3 2003 showing, the Half-Life 2 leak quickly became one of the most illegally shared pieces of content at the time.  Now, sit back and join me as I look ten years into the past at one of the biggest leaks in gaming history.  It is meant to inform gamers of a dark time in the history of gaming, and as a cautionary tale to game developers.  Enjoy.

Back in April of 2003 Valve announced that a sequel to their hit PC game Half-Life had been in production for the past five years in secret and would be coming out later that year.  Using a cutting edge in-house developed graphics engine and a real-time physics engine, Half-Life 2 was first shown to the public at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in May 2003.  All of the gaming press, myself included, were blown away by the incredible thirty minute demo shown at the trade show.  To cap the excellent showing off, Valve announced Half-Life 2’s release date would be September 30th, 2003.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t soon enough for someone.

Half-Life 2’s development was not keeping to Valve’s schedule and as the weeks ticked by it was becoming more and more likely that the game would not be able to meet its September 30th’s release date.  According to Valve owner Gabe Newell, on or around September 11th, 2003 a person other then himself was accessing his e-mail without his permission.  Whoever this individual was, he wasn’t interested in e-mail.  Valve soon discovered viruslike symptoms on their computer systems, including crashes when right clicking, but strangely their anti-virus software wasn’t picking up on anything unusual.  The hacker had used a modified version of a virus called “RemoteAnywhere” to exploit an Outlook Express buffer overflow exploit, and since it had been modified it was undetectable by the anti-virus programs Valve was using.  Once it had been installed, the virus in turn installed keystroke logs on all the computers at Valve Software.  By September 19th, the attacker had downloaded an unconfirmed amount of un-compiled source code and game resources (including sounds, maps, and textures) for Half-Life 2, as well as the source code and resources for as many as two other games they had in development.  All this data found itself on peer-to-peer sharing networks within hours, and the amount of users who downloaded and shared the content was monumental.  Gabe Newell was forced to officially confirm the leak on October 2nd, 2003, and asked for the help of the gaming public to bring those responsible to justice.

Even to this day, we don’t have a complete picture of just how much of the game was stolen.  Owner Gabe Newell claimed at first that only a minor amount of the final source code was taken, and when the leak first sprang up, only the game’s source code was available on the peer to peer networks.  As the days ticked on it became clearer that whoever had stolen all of the game’s content hadn’t released all they had just yet.  Over the next week gaming news sites were all over this leak, trying to report the most up to the minute information and as time went on, more and more copies were being made of the source code by the peer-to-peer users.

The content leak may have been fun to mess around with for those who downloaded it, but it meant a lot of headaches for its creators.  Because of the leak, Valve was now in violation of a contract they entered into with a company called Havok, who Valve used to license their real-time physics engine*.  A stipulation to the contract between Valve and Havok was that Valve needed to keep Havok’s code safe, but since their code was also included with the Half-Life 2 code, Havok could now lose a lot of business.  This was a major problem for Havok since their income was from leasing their code to game developers.  Another of Valve’s issues with having the game’s source code released illegally meant the increased danger of multiplayer cheating.  Cheating is a common occurrence among multiplayer gaming and can destroy the fun of playing games online.  With the source code out before the game’s release, the program writers for cheating programs can have a head start to write their cheats for release by the time of the game’s release.

On October 7th, 2003 a playable version (dubbed “playable beta”) of the game was released onto the peer to peer networks by the hacker (who refers to himself as Anonymous Leaker).  The previously released source code was only ninety-four percent compilable, and without the game’s content it was useless.  The leak had to either have been more massive then Valve knew or bigger then they were willing to admit.  Half-Life 2’s original publisher, Vivendi Universal Games, did a press release to push back the release to April 2004 and credited the leak.

But the most interesting thing about the playable beta was that users who downloaded the illegally released version of the game found a game that was in fact nowhere near completion.  It was missing a lot of content and looked like a barely playable version of the levels shown at E3.  While this could have been because the Leaker stole either an early build of the game client, or was unable to completely obtain all the game’s assets before the content leaked and claimed it was a finished build, it raised the question in a lot of gamers’ minds if this incomplete title was what Valve planned to release on September 30th.

On October 9th, in a questionable move, a forum user claiming to be the Leaker announced the content that was released online was indeed the current work Valve had for Half-Life 2 and that the game was nowhere near completion.  Because of this, he plead innocent and said that he was not the reason for the delay of the game.  On top of that he claimed that if Valve continued to claim that the leak was the reason for the delay, he would release all the stolen content he had.  On October 13th, the source code to the game maps were released to peer to peer networks.  As far as I know, that would be the final leaked Half-Life 2 content to make it onto the web.

So who was this mysterious Leaker and why did he steal the biggest game of its time, just to release it before it was finished?  Well, as it turned out, the man did in fact have a conscience.  The Leaker, who’s name will not be posted on this site, would eventually get in personal contact with Gabe Newell via e-mail.  The purpose of the e-mail was not to gloat or threaten, but to apologize.  After verifying his identity by providing Gabe some information that had not gone public, Gabe knew he was speaking to the real deal.  At first, Gabe was furious at him for all the trouble he had caused the company, but he wasn’t planning to let the Leaker know that.  The Leaker said that he was just a big fan of Valve Software, and he had never meant for the content to go public as it did.  He just wanted the chance to play their games and he pleaded Gabe for his forgiveness.

Gabe played it cool.  On the one hand, he finally knew the Leaker’s motivations, but he still wanted to bring this person to justice.  He decided to set up an elaborate sting operation, with the intention to bring the Leaker to the United States and have him immediately arrested by the Feds.  Gabe told the Leaker that he was impressed by the Leaker’s actions, and wanted to bring him in to interview as a new “security consultant” for the company.  The Leaker was skeptical of course, but he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to work for Valve Software.

After Gabe spent some time trying to set up this elaborate sting operation, the law enforcement agency of the Leaker’s home country got wind of what Gabe was doing and stopped it, preferring to arrest him themselves.  Shortly after that, the Leaker was arrested by his country’s local law enforcement.  He would maintain that he never wanted the content he had stolen to leak out into the open as widely as it had, and that a peer of his that he had entrusted a copy of the data to had leaked it onto the web.

Half-Life 2 would finally release in November 2004 and became the flagship title for Valve’s online distribution system, Steam.  The gamers who purchased the game legally through the service or at retail found a polished masterpiece which won numerous Game of the Year awards in a year which also saw the release of titles like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Halo 2.  The game’s PC release was followed by a console port to the original Xbox shortly afterwards.  Two episodic expansions were produced for the game and these expansions were included alongside Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal when the game was released on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2007.

As for Gordon Freeman? He has not been seen since.

Quantum Break Extended Gameplay Demo Video October 14, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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As I’ve said before, there is no Xbox One exclusive title I’m looking forward to more than Quantum Break. Developed by the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake, Quantum Break shows just what the dangers are when you meddle with time.

Fans itching to see as much of this game as they possibly can can let out a small cheer as I have something special for you. Xbox Japan has posted up what looks to be an extended version of the Gamescom 2014 demo which was likely captured at this year’s TGS.

While the level and setting are the same as the one from Gamescom, this video features an extended opening cutscene which has not been posted online. Not only do we get a few story tidbits and further understanding of the protagonist’s motivations, it shows off just how well the Xbox One can handle in-engine cutscenes. The narration and subtitles are in Japanese, but the in game dialog is all spoken in English.

Quantum Break is coming in 2015 exclusively for the Xbox One.

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