Leading Ladies 2 is the Current Humble Weekly Bundle

Leading Ladies 2 Humble BundleThe Humble Bundle provides people who love to play video games with an excellent offer. Pay what you want. Decide how much of the money you spend goes to the game developers and how much goes to a charity. The current Humble Weekly Bundle is called Leading Ladies 2. It features games that have prominent female characters in them. At the time I am writing this blog, this Humble Bundle has 4 days left.

Pay what you want to get the first three games in the Bundle. Triune 2: Complete Story is a game of action, puzzles, and platforming. One of the playable characters is Zoya the Thief.

Lumino City is sequel to Lume. It begins where the first game left off. Lumi needs to explore the city in order to find out more about her Grandad. The game involves exploring, and players must figure out puzzling mechanisms.

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game that is about “hacking” (reprograming object properties, global variables, and creature behaviors in the game). The game is currently in early access.

Pay more than the average of $4.27 and you unlock two more games. A City Sleeps is an action game driven by an experimental hip hop / electronic soundtrack. The main character is a woman named Poe who uses ghost familiars to interact with the world.

The Marvellous Miss Take features Miss Sophia Take. Players must reclaim sculptures and paintings. The game involves stealth and distraction and combines a puzzle game with an action game.

Pay $12.00 or more, and you get two additional games. Gravity Ghost is a gravity hopper where players run, jump and orbit their way through a galaxy. There’s no killing, no dying, and no way to fail.

Sunset features the character Angela Burnes, and players discover her thoughts as they play the game. She is a US citizen at the end of the 1960’s who was inspired by the Black Power and civil rights movements. It is an adventure game.

As always, you get to choose how much of what you spend goes towards the developers and how much goes to a charity. This time, the charity is Girls Make Games. It is an educational company based in San Jose, California. They provide girls with access to knowledge thorough their games and programs, including their Girls Make Games summer camps and workshops.

3 Queens Launched Mobile Game at E3

Creeping With the CrudashiansThere’s been a ton of news that came out of E3, especially from the bigger, well known, companies. So, you might have missed hearing about a fun mobile game that was created by a small company called 3 Queens. It is an all-woman owned gaming development and publishing company that is based in South Carolina.

The first mobile game from 3 Queens is called Creeping with the Crudashians. It is intended to be a parody of “America’s reality TV royal family” – the Kardashians (and their show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. ) The game is also a critique of celebrity vanity in general.

Creeping with the Crudashians is a Match 3 game that is available for both iOS and Android users. Give 3 Queens your email, and get on their list, if you want to know exactly when the game launches. I’ve subscribed, in part because I like to support women who are in the gaming industry, and also because I’m so very tired of all the “news” about whatever the Kardashians are doing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this game!

The game includes characters that resemble the Kardashians. There’s Cym, Crusty, Crassy, Crawly, Crewelina, and more. The concept of the game is to poke fun at the major milestones and events of the Crudashians based on their career timeline. To win a level, players must match tiles to increase their fame, break sex tapes, etc., with an overall goal to gain the ever elusive talent.

The in-game currencies are Fame, and Talent. The game does allow for micro-transactions. You can purchase Fame, but you can’t buy Talent. Fame, however, is abundant in the game and the default reward for anything a player does. The official public launch of Creeping with the Crudashians is this July. It will be available on both the iTunes and Play! stores.

Previous to creating this game, the 3 Queens (Cara Florence, Nicole Young, and Maureen Coffey-Edri) created an app called WeConsent2 It is an affirmative consent application “designed to protect you and your partner before passion”.

YouTube Gaming will Launch this Summer

YouTube Gaming logoYouTube Gaming is set to launch in the summer of 2015. It is an obvious attempt to compete with Twitch and Steam.

YouTube Gaming will have more than 25,000 games, and each of them will have their own page. There will also be channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators. Some of this functions similarly to Twitch. People will be able to subscribe to YouTube creator’s channel and get a notification when that person starts a live stream.

In addition, YouTube Gaming will make it easier for people to find videos about their favorite game. The Official YouTube Blog says: And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe”.

In other words, your search for videos about a specific game will give you a much better result from the YouTube Gaming homepage than if you did that search from the main page of YouTube. It also shows that YouTube is going to incorporate its existing gaming content into the new YouTube Gaming.

As far as streaming goes, the official YouTube blog says:

Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. And, in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream to a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating a single link you can share for all your streams.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Some of the people who left comments on the Official YouTube blog are questioning how YouTube’s ContentID will affect things. Will ContentID continue to flag the videos in which the music in the background of the game is audible? If so, that could be problematic for streamers. Others are interested in finding out more about how revenue will work for YouTube Gaming streamers.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II Headset

Kingston LogoKingston Tech followed up their popular HyperX Cloud gaming headset earlier this year with the Cloud II, which brought a newly designed USB sound card audio control box with 7.1 virtual surround sound to the already impressive feature set of the original HyperX Cloud headset. GNC favourably reviewed the first HyperX Cloud back in December.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II Control UnitThe new control box has independent audio and microphone volume control plus a central toggle for the surround sound 7.1. The Cloud II headset generates virtual 7.1 surround sound with distance and depth to enhance the gaming, movie or music experience. Shoot them before they shoot you!

At launch, the Cloud II headset offered choice of two colour finishes, red and gun metal (grey). There’s now a third option, pink, which is presumably intended to appeal to female gamers.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II headsetWhatever your opinion of “pinking”, it’s good to see that Kingston is looking outside of the stereotypical gaming audience.

In other good news, the Cloud II has taken up the price point of the original and is priced at a little under GB£80. The original Cloud still available too but it’s now priced below £50, making the latter a real bargain.

World Video Game Hall of Fame Includes 6 Games

The Strong National Museum of Play logoThe Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes individual video games of all types. They have selected 6 video games as the first class of inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. These games are on permanent view in the National Museum of Play’s eGameRevolution exhibit.

The video games that were selected had to fit the selection criteria.
Icon-Status: The game is widely recognized and remembered.
Longevity: The game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time.
Geographical Reach: The game meets the first two criteria across international boundaries.
Influence: The game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games or on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general.

The last criteria seems to be the most important one. A game can be inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame on the basis of that criteria alone (even if it has not met the other three criteria).

The official list of the first class of inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame are: Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, Doom, and World of Warcraft. They are the 2015 class of inductees. Nominations for the 2016 class of inductees are being considered now. You can nominate a video game by filling out a form on the website of The Strong at the National Museum of Play.

LEGO Worlds Now Available on Steam

LEGO Worlds logoIt has been said that Minecraft is similar to LEGO. People use small bricks (either physical or the pixilated kind) to build structures and landscapes. That comparison just got a bit more apt with the release of LEGO Worlds. It’s now available on Steam as an Early Access Game.

Steam is offering Early Access right now to the LEGO Worlds game. In some ways, this feels like a beta test. Players can access some of the game now, but it is not complete. The developers plan to add more features as time goes on. They will evaluate a “release candidate” sometime in early 2016 and are seeking feedback from the community about different aspects of the game.

The current Early Access version of the game includes the following features: procedurally generated worlds, terraforming and building tools, discoveries and unlocks, ridable creatures and vehicles, and a day/night cycle.

Players will be able to freely manipulate and dynamically populate LEGO models. There is a brick-by-brick editor tool that players can use as well as some prefabricated LEGO structures. Players can modify the terrain by using a multi-tool. It will be possible to get into the game and play with virtual LEGO sets that match the real-life versions. These sets will be taken from both Classic and current LEGO themes.

The LEGO website has some further information. They note that LEGO Worlds is safe for children to play, but that some of the other content on Steam might not be. As such, they encourage parents to view the parental controls on Steam before granting their children Early Access to LEGO Worlds.

The Humble Nindie Bundle Features Two Important Firsts

Humble Nindie BundleHumble Bundles are awesome because they give people a way to pick up some great games for a low price and, at the same time, allow them to support a charity. The current Humble Bundle is called the Humble Nindie Bundle and it features not one, but two, “firsts”.

The Humble Nindie Bundle is presented by Nintendo eShop. This Humble Bundle is named after Nintendo’s initiative to support independent developers. This is the first time that Nintendo has made its games available for sale through Humble Bundle. It is also the first time Humble Bundle has put console games up for sale.

The games in the Humble Nindie Bundle are for either the 3DS or Wii U (and some are for both). The three games offered in the “pay what you want” category are: Guacamelee! Woah Dave! And Mighty Switch Force!

Pay $10 or more and you can unlock two more games: Stealth Inc 2 and SteamWorld Dig. There is also a category of games that unlock if you pay more than the average of $9.20. Three of those games have been revealed: The Fall, OlliOlli and Moon Chronicles. More games will be revealed later.

The charity that will benefit from this Humble Bunde is Code.org It is a non-profit that is dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.

Honor Buddy Authentication Closed After WoW Ban

Honor Buddy logoBlizzard Entertainment, creator of World of Warcraft, recently banned more than 100,000 World of Warcraft accounts because of “botting”. As a result, the maker of a bot called Honorbuddy has decided to close Honorbuddy Authentication. This decision means that people who were using the Honorbuddy bot will no longer be able to do so.

Honorbuddy is a bot. Some World of Warcraft players were using it because it automated certain things in the game for them. For example, it was possible to use Honorbuddy to automatically cause your character to gather resources, level the character, and a variety of other things.

Blizzard Community Manager Lore recently posted information about the ban on the World of Warcraft forums. The forum post was titled “Recent Actions Against Botting in WoW”. The key part was this:

We’ve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as “bots”. We’re committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.

There was no mention of any particular bot in the forum post. However, it appears that Honorbuddy might have been one of the bots that banned players were using. There is a post on the Honorbuddy forum titled “Honorbuddy Bans Statement”. Part of it said:

It seems like Honorbuddy was detected, we are not sure, but looking at BAN THREADS, we think that is the most likely option atm.

We are sorry for all your lost WOW Accounts, hopefully you can use them again after the 6 months ban is lifted. I have read here in the forums a bit, a lot of the accounts where [sic] 10 years old. This is a pity. We always say, do not use your valuable accounts as the risk is always there.

…With Honorbuddy you thought that we are unbeatable, we never thought that, we’ve succeeded since 2010 – Honorbuddy had not a single software detection. It seems there is one now.

…You ask yourself what happens next? For now we closed our Honorbuddy Authentication, when we know more details we will inform you.

The Honorbuddy website has a disclaimer at the bottom that says “This website is not associated with Activision Blizzard Inc. and Honorbuddy may be against their TOS/EULA.”

Banned WoW Player Posts Petition on WhiteHouse.Gov

We the People logo at WhiteHouse.gov petition websiteIt is not unheard of for players who have been banned from playing a video game, due to their own bad actions, to get online and complain about it. Blizzard Entertainment, maker of World of Warcraft (WoW) recently banned players who were using bots. One of those players felt the need to post a petition at WhiteHouse.gov about it.

It is against the Terms of Use of World of Warcraft for players to use bots. A bot can be described as “third-party programs that automate gameplay.” In short, players who don’t actually want to spend time playing a video game sometimes choose to use a bot that plays it for them. Or, a player might choose to use a bot in order to make certain aspects of the game easier for them. The reason doesn’t actually matter since the use of bots breaks the Terms of Use.

Blizzard Community Manager Lore posted some information about the ban on the World of Warcraft forums. The title of the forum post was “Recent Actions Against Botting in WoW”. It said (in part):

We’ve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as “bots”. We’re committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.

As I mentioned, it is common for players who have been banned to go online and complain about it. Many will claim they were innocent and that Blizzard should reverse the ban. Others will insist that the ban was “unfair”. This is a fairly typical response.

This time, someone decided to take things a step farther and create a petition on WhiteHouse.Gov about the WoW ban. The petition is titled: “Today on 5/13/2015 The World of Warcraft Population demands unbanning their toon and to change the terms so we can play.” The “toon” they are referring to is the character they use when they play World of Warcraft.

The wording of the petition says: Today over half the pvp community that did not use their fingers to play have been banned. The other half were people who would use a program called T-Morph to do stupid things…Anyways we are demanding Blizzard to change their terms of service and fix this game so we can play again. WE do not want to see any lives lost due to A ban.

Please help us change this

Blizzard you are ruining everything

The rest of the petition is composed of a “ban list so far”. The creator of the petition is listed as “B.P.” who is from Fort Worth, Texas. In order to create a petition on the WhiteHouse.Gov “We the People” website, a person must be an American citizen. Those who sign the petition also have to be American citizens.

WoW petition at WhiteHouse.gov

I find it interesting that the banned players who created or signed the petition think that this is a situation that the Obama Administration should step into. The creator of the petition connected it to the following issues: Economy, Human Rights, Technology and Telecommunications.

I’m fairly certain that being banned from a video game, for using a “bot”, is not actually an infringement upon one’s human rights. The wording of the petition can be read as an admission that the players who were banned did, in fact, use a “bot”, including one called T-Morph.

Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that the creator of the petition failed to follow the Terms of Participation required by those who post petitions. For example, part of it reads “You also agree not to post threats of unlawful violence or harm to any individual or group”. One could interpret the part of the petition that says “WE do not want to see any lives lost due to A ban” to be a threat of unlawful violence that could occur if Blizzard doesn’t reverse the ban.

In order for a petition to be searchable at WhiteHouse.gov, a petition must reach 150 signatures within 30 days. At the time I am writing this blog, the petition has 58 signatures. In order for a petition to receive a response from the Obama Administration, it must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days.

Steam Removes Payment Feature from Skyrim Workshop

Steam Workshop logoIt is amazing how quickly companies can respond to community feedback. Such is the case for Valve in regards to its Steam Workshop and the launch of paid mods in Skyrim. The payment feature for mods has been removed from the Steam Workshop just a few days after it was launched. The problem seems to be with the payment model for the mods.

Valve explains the situation in a post at Steam Workshop. Part of it states that their goal was “to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to better provide for their mod communities.”

But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the best place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.

Valve also says that anyone who spent money on a mod will be refunded the complete amount.

Bethesda, maker of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim game, has also posted an update on their blog in regards to the paid Skyrim mods in Steam Workshop.

After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.

I’ve been reading through comments on both the Valve and Bethesda blog posts regarding this issue. There seem to be two main viewpoints about why the paid mods were removed. One is that people were upset because they did not want to pay for mods at all – they wanted to continue to obtain them for free. Previously, there were some Skyrim mods that were free to use.

The other view is that people were upset about the payment split. The mod creator would receive 25% of the payment, and the rest of the money would be split between Valve and Bethesda. It seems to me that some people felt that Valve and Bethesda were getting too much of the profit, and that others felt the price of mods would go up as creators attempted to make the effort they put into the mods worth the money they earned from them.