Category Archives: Gaming

Blizzard Launches WoW Legion Companion App

World of Warcraft Legion Companion AppBlizzard Entertainment has launched the WoW Legion Companion App. It is for players of World of Warcraft who have the recently released Legion expansion. The app can be downloaded for free from either the App Store or Google Play.

The WoW Legion Companion App can be used by players to keep track of their progress in game. It is not a substitution for the World of Warcraft game (or the Legion expansion). In other words, the app lets you do certain in-game things through your mobile device, but you still need to use your computer to play WoW.

Players can use the app to:

Track World Quests – View your active world quests and emissary bounties from the app. You can check on rewards and figure out which quests to do once you’re in-game.

Mission Control – See which missions are available to you in your Class Order Hall and get them started through the app. You can complete missions, collect rewards, manage your followers, upgrade their gear, and recruit troops for future missions.

Order Hall Progress – Conduct research and track the status of your Order Hall tech tree to maintain the momentum of your in-game progression.

The app requires players to have an active World of Warcraft subscription, the World of Warcraft Legion expansion, and at least one character that is at the appropriate level. Some things do not unlock until after your character reaches certain levels.

In November of 2015, Blizzard Entertainment acquired King Digital Entertainment. Since then, there has been much speculation that the result would be an app that connected to at least one of Blizzard’s games. The WoW Legion Companion app appears to be that result.

Niantic is Adding Buddy Pokémon

Pokemon Go logoNiantic continues to add new features to Pokémon GO. They recently released the Pokémon Appraisal feature, which gives players some advice about each of their Pokémon. Soon, players will get to choose a Buddy Pokémon.  Niantic says that the Buddy feature is “just around the corner”.

The next addition to Pokémon GO will be Buddy Pokémon. You will be able to pick your favorite Pokémon from your collection to become your buddy, opening up unique in-game rewards and experiences. Buddy Pokémon will appear alongside your Trainer avatar on your profile screen, adding helpful bonuses such as awarding Candy for walking together. You’ll also have the ability to change your Buddy Pokémon at any time.

Buddy Pokemon

Nothing more has been officially stated about exactly what Buddy Pokémon will do for the player. We can speculate a bit based on what we already know about how the game works. Right now, the Candy in the game is specific to one type of Pokémon and cannot be used on any other kind. Niantic says the Buddy Pokémon will give players Candy. Could the Candy from the Buddy Pokémon be used to evolve that Pokémon? We will have to wait and see.

City of Lompoc Wants to Change Name to “Lompokemon”

City of Lompoc California sealThe city of Lompoc is located in Santa Barbara County in California. There is an effort being made to change the city’s name from Lompoc to “Lompokemon”. This could be a brilliant way to encourage tourists to visit the city. It also could easily be the reason why the town gets laughed at as this story gets passed around the internet.

The name change from Lompoc to “Lompokemon” was a request that was on the agenda for the city’s most recent City Council meeting. The request was removed from the agenda at the last minute because the city wants to get permission from Nintendo to use the name “Lompokemon”.

They are asking Nintendo for permission, instead of Niantic, because Nintendo owns the trademark for Pokémon. The City Council is not going to move forward on anything until they receive approval to do so from Nintendo. If Nintendo approves of the “Lompokemon” name, the request for the name change would be brought back to the City Council (where it will either be approved of or refused).

As such, many things are unknown. It is not clear exactly how long Lompoc would be officially named “Lompokemon”. It could be for a weekend, or maybe for an entire week.

I suppose if the result of the name change is a huge boost in tourism, the new name could stick around until Pokémon GO loses popularity. Maybe they could put together a walking tour that takes people to all the PokéStops and PokéGyms. The city of Lompoc has a lot of murals – and public art tends to end up as PokéStops.

Curse is Now Part of the Twitch Family

Twitch and CurseTwitch, the leading social video platform and community for gamers, has agreed to acquire Curse, a leading global multimedia technology company focused on creating content and products specifically for gamers.

Curse might be best known for the add-ons it makes for World of Warcraft, Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and other PC games. Curse also has helpful information in the form of wikis and news guides, that can help players. Business Wire says that more than 30 million people visit Curse’s web properties, video channels, social media channels, and desktop application each month.

Twitch is the go-to site for people who stream their video game play, and therefore, also for the people who want to watch those streams. More than 100 million community members gather to watch and talk about video games with more than 1.7 million streamers each month.

In 2014, Amazon purchased Twitch for $970 million.

Twitch has posted a very happy and excited announcement that Curse is the newest member of the Twitch family. Curse has a brief note that points out that Curse is now part of the Twitch family (with a link to the announcement on the Twitch website). Part of that announcement says:

This acquisition will help provide gamers with the tools and resources they need to achieve the ultimate gaming experience, a mission shared by both Twitch and Curse. Together Curse and Twitch will help gamers connect, interact, and share information with one another.

There is some speculation that this acquisition could result in a push for gamers on Twitch to use what originally was called Curse Voice (and is now called Curse) instead of Discord, Teamspeak, Skype, or other similar services. Many gamers use those types of services to communicate with the other players on their team while gameplay is going on.

Niantic is Permanently Banning Pokémon GO Cheaters

Pokemon Go logoNiantic, the developer behind the popular Pokémon GO game, has started banning players who cheat. It appears that Niantic is very serious about this because they are now issuing permanent bans to the players who have broken the terms of service.

Earlier this month, Niantic posted an update about maintaining and running the Pokémon GO service. In the update, Niantic pointed out that third parties have attempted to access their servers in various ways outside of the game itself.  Part of that post said:

“It’s worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers. There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same.”

It appears that the next step in their efforts to “provide a fair, fun, and legitimate game experience for everyone”, Niantic is permanently banning players who cheat. The company has posted a note to its website called: Submit a ban appeal.  It says:

Your account was permanently terminated for violations of the Pokémon GO Terms of Service. This includes, but is not limited to: falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon GO clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third party software.

The post has a link to a form that banned players can use if they believe their account has been terminated in error. Some players who were caught cheating received an email that has the same wording as the note Niantic recently posted on their website.

High Bandwidth Support is Coming to Overwatch

Overwatch logoBlizzard Entertainment is in the process of rolling out a high bandwidth server option to Overwatch. It was something that was part of the Overwatch beta. At the time, Blizzard said that they would investigate adding the high bandwidth option to other game modes if it performed well and players responded positively to it.

Keep in mind that this is being rolled out and may take a few weeks for it to appear on all regions. Right now, they are rolling out the high bandwidth option globally to PC. (Overwatch is not compatible with Mac). Blizzard is exploring how they can bring the high bandwidth option to console.

In the official post about this upcoming change, Community Manager Lylirra explains more about what the high bandwidth option means.

So what does that mean? In Overwatch, our high bandwidth option adjusts the game’s client update rate (the frequency at which your client gets updates from the game server) from 21 updates per second to 63 updates per second. This reduces the amount of time between when you complete an action and when your client hears back about the result, which in turn will help make the game feel more responsive.

In addition, Blizzard is adding in “tech that will automatically and adaptively scale down your update rate if we find your connection can’t keep up.” They are looking to add an option that will allow players to self-limit their update rate in a future patch. The reason for that is because Blizzard recognizes that “not all internet connections are equal”.

SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Game Controller Unboxing and Setup

SteelSeries LogoThe 4th-generation Apple TV won’t blow anyones mind as a gaming machine. But game developers have taken advantage of the device’s ability to run third-party apps, and a decent number of games have been produced for Apple’s home-media box. I received a new Apple TV as a Christmas gift last year. The stock Siri Remote that comes with the new Apple TV can be used for game play. But I found the gaming experience with the Siri Remote to be lacking. That’s why I decided to pick up a SteelSeries Nimbus wireless game controller.

SteelSeires Nimbus box
SteelSeires Nimbus box
SteelSeries Nimbus unboxing
SteelSeries Nimbus unboxing
SteelSeries Nimbus unboxing
SteelSeries Nimbus unboxing

The Nimbus is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The controller uses a Lightning port for charging. There’s a series of four LEDs at the top of the controller that indicate how well the battery is charged. I was pleased to discover that my new Nimbus was fully charged.

SteelSeries Nimbus lights
SteelSeries Nimbus lights

The Nimbus is a Bluetooth controller. Pairing it with the Apple TV was pretty simple. Turn both devices on. Open the Apple TV’s Settings app, navigate to Remotes and Devices, select Bluetooth, and the Nimbus should appear under Other Devices. From there, you can select the Nimbus for wireless pairing to the Apple TV.

Apple TV Remotes and Devices Menu
Apple TV Remotes and Devices Menu
Apple TV Bluetooth menu
Apple TV Bluetooth menu
Apple TV Bluetooth screen
Apple TV Bluetooth screen
Nimbus connected to Apple TV
Nimbus connected to Apple TV

Once the Nimbus was paired to the Apple TV, it was smooth sailing. I found that the game controller replicated most of the functions of the Siri Remote and that I could use it to navigate around the main Apple TV screen just like the remote. I selected the game Dragon Mania Legends. As the game loaded, a screen came up that I hadn’t seen before with instructions on how to use a game controller with the game.

Game controller instructions
Game controller instructions

(Curiously, the game controller depicted in the instructional graphic looks similar to a Playstation Vita. Not sure what’s going on there.) I’ve found that most games will provide a screen like this. For the ones that don’t, working out the controls is usually not a problem.

The Nimbus is a comfortable and familiar controller that resembles an Xbox controller in design. The buttons, D-Pad, and joysticks work well, and the Nimbus really does make for a much more enjoyable experience when it comes to Apple TV gaming.

Here’s to hoping that some clever game designers will now make some really good games for the Apple TV. It seems much more likely with controller options like the SteelSeries Nimbus.

4 Tips for Pokémon GO Safety and Success

Pokemon Go logoI’ve been playing Pokémon GO, the altered reality, mobile app-based game that’s taken (most of) the world by storm, almost since the game was first released in the United States. I’ve managed to reach level 17 so far, caught tons of Pokémon, and have had a lot of fun playing the game. Here are four tips for playing the game, based on my own experience:

1.) It’s OK to take your eyes off the screen: Pokémon GO naysayers have evoked a zombie meme when referring to players of the game. And while it’s not brains Pokémon GO players are after, there is something accurate about this portrayal, as players can sometimes be seen mindlessly making their way to a nearby PokéStop with little awareness of their surroundings. But it really is OK to take your eyes off the screen when hunting for Pokémon. Just make sure your device’s volume is turned up and/or the device’s vibrate function is on. Then you can hold the device at your side while walking. This may save precious battery life, as certain devices will automatically dim the screen when they’re put into this position, it’ll also free up your eyes to do what they’re supposed to – look forward into the world you’re moving thru.

2.) Stay out of the way of traffic: Of course you want to be sure to not wander into a multilane highway while playing Pokémon GO. But it’s not just vehicle traffic you want to avoid. You need to also be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other types of movement around you. So when the 100th Pidgey of the day pops up, take a few steps out of the way if you’re on a sidewalk, or duck into a nearby doorway instead of blocking traffic, before you try catching that Pokémon.

3.) It’s OK to trash things in your bag: I absolutely hate wasting resources in video games. And while Pokémon GO may have an inexhaustible supply of Zubats, the game doesn’t provide players with an Infinite Bag of Holding. Hit enough PokéStops and you’ll inevitably get the annoying “Your bag is full” message. At this point you’ll want to assess all of the items you’re carrying and jettison some of them in order to make room for more important stuff. But what’s “important” in the game will vary at any given time from player to player. If you’re not yet ready to battle at Poké Gyms, then having a bag full of potions is a waste. And if you’re more interested in gym battles than catching new Pokémon, you can drop Poké Balls in favor of healing and revive potions. And of course, if you don’t mind spending real-world money, you can always buy a bag upgrade. Still, I’ve found that keeping a balanced amount of potions and Poké Balls is possible as long as you don’t mind trashing extra potions or cutting back on the number of Razz Berries in your inventory.

4.) Treat the Pokédex as your true Pokémon collection: Pokémon GO has a few ways to keep track of the monsters you’ve encountered in the game. The first time you catch any Pokémon, it’s added to your Pokédex, where you can see statistics and other information about the Pokémon. All Pokémon catches are also noted in your journal. And finally, the Pokémon themselves are stored in your backpack. And while it might be tempting to hang onto every last Rattata and Nidoran, that could cause you to use all of your available storage slots rather quickly. Instead, consider the Pokédex to be the ultimate collection of Pokémon you’ve caught, keeping one or two of the highest-level of each Pokémon you’ve caught in your backpack and transferring the rest to Professor Willow for valuable Pokémon candy.

Are you playing Pokémon GO? Share your own tips and strategies in the comment section below.

Full Archive of Nintendo Power Magazine Now Available

Nintendo Power pages JPGCoverage of the gaming industry is virtually inexhaustible at this point. Pick any console, platform, franchise, or game title, and you’re likely to find a plethora of blogs, vlogs, and podcasts catering to that subject. But back in the days when the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) reigned supreme over the gaming world, news about the console and its attendant game titles wasn’t so easy to find. As a video-game obsessed kid, I remember the wait in between new editions of Nintendo Power magazine (and its predecessor, Nintendo Fun Club News) felt like a lifetime, despite the publication’s bi-monthly print schedule.

In its day, Nintendo Power magazine was required reading for anyone who took their gaming exploits seriously. Each issue came packed with news on the latest games and gaming accessories, as well as helpful things like gameplay maps and cheat codes. Just in time for the upcoming release of the NES Classic Edition (was this planned or just pure coincidence?), the entire run of Nintendo Power magazine has been digitized and archived online.

I took a quick flip thru the first issue, which features write-ups on NES classics Super Mario Bros. 2 and Double Dragon. The digital magazine even contains a reader survey that was filled out by the magazine’s original owner but never clipped and sent. There’s also a short piece on the latest Pee-Wee Herman film, as well as a celebrity player profile section devoted to Candace and Kirk Cameron.

Get your own Nintendo Power nostalgia fix at Internet Archive, where the magazines can be flipped thru in all their original glory.

Blizzard DDoS Possibly Linked to Second Overwatch Ban Wave

Blizzard Entertainment logoYesterday, Blizzard Entertainment enacted a second ban wave of players who were cheating in Overwatch. Many banned players complained online and some of their comments suggested they were seeking some kind of revenge on Blizzard. Not long after that, Blizzard experienced a DDoS attack. This doesn’t prove that the situations are connected – but it certainly looks suspicious.

In May, a warning was posted on the Overwatch Forums that stated: “If a player is found to be cheating – or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.” In June, Blizzard banned players who were cheating in Overwatch. One would think this should have been enough of a clue that Blizzard is serious about banning cheaters.

Despite a very obvious example of what would happen to cheaters, some players decided to cheat in Overwatch anyway. This caused Blizzard to enact a second banwave. Kotaku reported:

This time around, Blizzard sniffed out players who use “triggerbots”, which shoot for players when their crosshairs appear over a target, and “aimbots,” which aid in accuracy.

A Reddit user compiled a series of screenshots of complaining comments that were posted by people who were cheating and got banned. Many of the comments are overly dramatic, and some are NSFW.

Included in the Kotaku article are a few comments that imply that some banned players want to take revenge upon Blizzard via a DDoS attack. There’s no way to know whether those comments came from people who actually know how to do that, but it definitely looks suspicious.

Yesterday and today, @BlizzardCS (the verified Twitter account for Blizzard Entertainment North America Customer Support) posted a series of tweets stating that they were experiencing a DDoS attack. It affected players ability to log in to all of Blizzard’s games and also impacted their websites.

Shortly before I posted this blog, @BlizzardCS tweeted: