Our Geekblog Contributors

FIFA 14 - Hex19 Playdate

Hex19's Brett Commandeur and Yuri Walkiw tackle FIFA 14 on the Xbox One in the latest Hex19 playdate. With the world cup underway in Brazil, we figured we'd give you a little taste of the beautiful game. Thanks for watching!


IronManMode.com to Circumnavigate a Virtual Globe for Charity

Ferdinand Magellan: The Original IronmanThe Iron Man Mode gaming & humour website is soon going on an indefinite hiatus, and they're celebrating with a massive charity event. Zeke, one of the managers of the site, is planning to livestream a flight around the world this weekend using a flight simulation program that contains a 1:1 scale model of our planet. Gamers around the world will be able to support this act of sheer folly by making PayPal donations to the Child's Play charity - an organization that makes toys, games and books available to sick children in hospitals around the world. In a trailer promoting the event, Zeke reminds us that the quickest anyone has circumnavigated the globe is about 32 hours, but this is with the most advanced aircraft available and highly skilled flight crews. Zeke has no idea how to fly a plane - which may make this circumnavigation attempt very interesting. Iron Man Mode hopes to surpass $2000 of donations with this event to meet their yearly goal, and I encourage you to help them reach it. The flight gets underway at 9PM GMT on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 and it's expected to last all weekend. Here is a direct link to the stream.

If you hadn't heard of it already, Iron Man Mode is a site that tackles gaming from a unique perspective. Zeke, Jessica and Nate write about their gaming experiences whilst only playing in "Iron Man Mode". The stakes are so much higher when no saving is allowed, and death is permanent. It's bound to make even the most seriously hardcore gamers giggle. You can check out a list of games they've tackled here


Fantasy Flight and CD Projekt Red Collaborating on 'Witcher' Tabletop Game

A tabletop game based on The Witcher franchise is in the works. CD Projekt Red, developer of the Witcher video games, is working with Fantasy Flight Games to create "The Witcher Adventure Game". It promises to have the Witcher's own brand of story telling, which will create a unique tale every time you play. There are four playable characters out of the box - Triss Merigold, Dandelion, Yarpen Zigrin, and the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. If the game is a success, you can probably expect that more will be added in an expansion. Within the game, dangerous quests, strange mysteries and epic monster hunts will all emulate the style of the video game franchise, as well as Andrzej Sapkowski's original novels.

You'd expect two things from a tabletop game based on an existing IP. The first assumption is that it wouldn't be very good. It could just be that years of playing licensed video games has taught us that anything based on a movie or TV show isn't worth touching with a ten foot pole. The second assumption is that it would be a less exciting and less interesting version of the property they are trying to reproduce. After all, how could rolling dice and moving pieces of cardboard and plastic be more exciting than the epic and cinematic battles of "The Witcher 2"?

However, Fantasy Flight Games has repeatedly crushed all expectations with its licensed titles. One of my favorite games of all time is the Battlestar Galactica tabletop game. The creators perfectly converted events from each episode of the TV series into scenarios that play out differently in each playtrhrough. The central mechanic of the game (trying to figure out the incognito cylons among you) does a great job of encapsulating the Battlestar series as a whole.

I can't wait to see what table game mechanics are used to replicate The Witcher. CD Projekt Red has been very ambitious in creating deep and rewarding combat and crafting mechanics in the video game, and I hope some of these can transfer to the tabletop experience. While I hope to see some of the same events from the video game retold, I hope that there are unique elements in the board game. It's clear that their visual art design is closely modelled after CD Projekt Red's interpretation of the novels, but more inspiration could be drawn from stories that exist only in Andrzej Sapkowski's literary works.

The game is slated for a worldwide release sometime in 2014. Android and iOS versions of the game have also already been announced. More information about the game, as well as the announcment teaser can be found on CD Projekt Red's Website.


Sony Responds to Xbox One Sales Figures Boasting 4.2 Million PS4 Units Sold

A day after Microsoft had announced the sales of 3 million Xbox One units since launch, Sony has responded with their sales figures. Over 4.2 million Playstation 4 consoles have been sold since its initial November 15, 2013 launch in North America, and subsequent launches worldwide. This figure is even more impressive when you consider that Sony hasn't launched in one of its most important markets - Japan. The PS4 won't be hitting store shelves in its home nation until February 22, 2014. The suspected reason for the short delay is software; many of the games that appeal most to Japanese gamers would not have been ready last November. Sony decided to devote as many units as possible to the North American and European markets for 2013. The delayed Japanese launch line-up will include a new Dynasty Warriors, Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! and a karaoke title from Xing Entertainment.

Source: The Verge


Xbox One Surpasses 3 Million Units Sold

After a worldwide launch in November, Microsoft has announced that Xbox One sales have surpassed 3 million units. As a comparison, the Xbox 360 sold roughly 1.5 million units in the couple of months after its launch in 2005. There was some concern about the popularity of the X1 after some reports showed it lagging behind both the Wii U and Playstation 4 on Black Friday, the most important shopping day in the United States. With a big enough discrepancy in sales, the Xbox platform could have lost support from third party developers, which would have been very unfortunate for early adopters that have already purchased the system. However, these sales figure give me confidence that the Xbox One will pull through and survive the 6 months of negative press it received after Microsoft grossly mishandled the announcement and subsequent consumer outrage relating to the console last spring.

On a somewhat interesting note, Microsoft chose to highlight many of the Xbox One launch titles and upcoming releases in their press release. Although they boast "epic multiplayer battles", both Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 are absent from the list. It's not completely unsurprising that both were omitted, considering Call of Duty's lacklustre reviews and BF4's broken state at launch. It could just be that Microsoft is getting better at spotting a sinking ship, and the blockbuster military shooter is rapidly taking on water.

Source: news.xbox.com


China Bans Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4, the latest entry in EA's blockbuster military shooter franchise, has been banned in China because the government feels that it "poses a threat to national security." China has declared that the game is a form of cultural invasion by an American company and it depicts their nation in a bad light. I have to agree that China is presented as an international super villain in the game's singleplayer campaign. The story focuses on a struggle of epic proportions between the American and Chinese militaries. However, it's exactly what I said it was - a story, a piece of fiction. Countless films, movies and games have been made that depict the American government as evil and corrupt from within, yet they sit on store shelves without controversy in the United States. Last time I checked, they haven't threatened American national security at all.

I could definitely understand if China had decided to ban the game for its multitude of unpatched bugs. Maybe I should write a letter to my local representative complaining about how I can't get into matchmaking, and how my campaign progress got erased. Although extreme, sweeping government bans might help convince the top brass at EA that shipping fully functioning products is a good idea.

Source: ZDNet


Steam Winter Sale 2013 Highlights

Over the past few years, the Steam winter sale has reached an almost legendary status among gamers. I'm primarily a console gamer, but to not indulge in the ridiculous PC gaming deals that happen on Steam around Christmas time would be insane. This post is just a list of some of my favorite snags from this year's edition of the sale. It is by no means a definitive "best of" list - there were many great deals that I didn't take advantage of because they weren't my style of game, or I owned them already. Please share your own favorite finds in the comments!

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Marvel Games Pulled From Digital Marketplaces

Video game publisher Activision has pulled many of its licensed Marvel titles from digital marketplaces altogether. Games like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and even last year's Deadpool can no longer be purchased on services like Steam, Xbox Live and Playstation Network. This doesn't affect players that have already purchased these games, but it does mean that the only way to get your Marvel fix is by grabbing them at retail, which could be difficult for older titles. It is unknown exactly why all these games are now absent, but it can be assumed that it has to do with some sort of license that expired at the beginning of 2014 and was not renewed. The timing is right, as Marvel was integrated into the Disney family in 2009. We saw that after the acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, Disney decided to close Lucas Arts and begin new strategies for creating Star Wars video games, mostly through partnerships with EA. I would expect a similar announcement is on the way for Marvel games.

This news really reminds me how fragile our computerized game collections can be. Big business decisions could prevent gamers from reliving their childhood favorites in the future, as they might be unavailable. On an even more terrifying note, it could be just as easy for games that we have already purchased to be affected in a similar manner. Server shutdowns have already made countless multiplayer games and MMOs completely unplayable. Although the convenience of an all digital game collection is undeniable, stuff like this can make you yearn for a simpler era where the cartridges on your shelf would always be there for you. Massive Steam collections are great, but digital games just don't match the permanence of physical copies. There will be a day where Steam goes out of business, and the end result could be catastrophic.

I can compare the eventual demise of my digital game collection to an impending apocalypse that would be caused by an an aging sun increasing in size and swallowing the earth. We don't know exactly when it will happen, but experts say we shouldn't have to worry about it for a very long time.

One thing is true - it's going to happen someday, and we're probably not going to be ready for it.

Source: GameInformer


Tom Merritt Launches New Daily Tech News Show

Last month we received the bad news that TWiT's Leo Laporte would not be renewing Tom Merritt's contract. Merritt was the host of both Tech News Today and Framerate, two of the best shows on the entire podcast network. Apparently, having Tom Merritt run the shows remotely from Los Angeles was not ideal, and TWiT wanted somebody local to head up their news team. You can't keep Tom Merritt off the air for long - it's just two days into this new year and he has already launched a new show (sort of). Daily Tech News Show is Tom Merritt's stopgap as he prepares to create a proper follow-up to his work on TWiT's TechNewsToday and CNET's Buzz Out Loud. Tom keeps on top of all the latest tech stories everyday anyways, so he figured it would be a good idea to continue sharing his perspectives with us. He plans to line up a guest for each episode, with the first one being CNET's Tim Stevens (previously of Engadget). I've been getting my daily tech news fix from Tom for more than 8 years and to listen/watch anything else would feel wrong. He always does a great job of making you feel as though you understand the entirety of the story, while also layering in his own views. I urge you to check it out here, there are both audio and video versions available.


Penny Arcade's Strip Search Is The Best Show You're Not Watching

I recently had the pleasure of marathoning through the entirety of the Strip Search web series on YouTube. Put together by the folks behind Penny Arcade and Loading Ready Run, StripSearch is the equivalent of Project Runway for web comic authors. Last spring 12 entrants entered the competition, and only one of them emerged victorious. The winner will now work from within the Penny Arcade offices for an entire year alongside comic moguls Scott Kurtz (PVP Online), Kris Straub (Chainsawsuit), Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade). I won't spoil the ending, but I will tell you that you need to watch this show.

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