Category Archives: Gaming

Steam Released a New Steam Chat

Steam announced that they have released the new Steam chat features available to all users. Those features have been in beta since June 12, 2018. The new features include an all-new friends list, chat, and voice chat.

The friends list has become more organized and flexible. It includes the following:

Favorites: Keep your favorite friends, groups, and chats right at the top of your Friends List, making it easy to check in on what you care about most.

Grouped by Game: You can see which friends are playing a specific game. You can also see if the friends who are playing the same game are grouped in a party.

Rich Presence: Games can now show details in the Friends list. It can show where friends are at in a game, if they are involved in a match or just starting out, whether they’re available for matchmaking, what party they’re playing with, or whatever the game developer chooses.

Group Chats: The new Steam Chat has a section called Group Chats. You can read the name of the chat to get an idea about what is likely being discussed, and join in.

Multi-Media Friendly: Every chat on Steam is now multi-media friendly. Getting your point across is easier than ever, now that everyone can see your GIFs inline rather than a list of links. Paste a picture from the clipboard and upload it directly to the chat.

Add Friends to a Chat: You can bring a friend into a conversation. Drag and Drop your friends from the Friend’s List to send them an invite.

Save Your Group: You can save your group chat with a title and avatar so you can chat or play together later. This makes it easy to pick up where you left off.

Add Channels: Within any group, create a new persistent channel any time, either for text or voice. It’s just one click to create a channel, one click to join, and one click to leave.

Invite with a Link: You can create and send links that will invite people directly into your group chat.

The new Steam Chat also includes improved voice capabilities. At a glance, you can see if your friends are talking in a voice channel and join them.

The voice chat was rewritten with a new WebRTC-based backend. It uses high quality Opus encoding, voice traffic is encrypted, and all traffic is sent through Steam servers rather than directly to your peers. Steam says this keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks.

No Man’s Sky Next is a Massive Free Update

Hello Games announced (on the Playstaton Blog) that No Man’s Sky Next will launch on July 24, 2018. It is described as a “massive free update.” The blog post was written by Sean Murray, Founder of Hello Games.

No Man’s Sky Next will launch as a free update for everyone who owns No Man’s Sky. It is a free update for PC, PS4 and Xbox.

Some features include:

  • Team up with a small team of friends and explore the universe together, or be joined by random travelers.
  • You can help friends to stay alive, or prey on others to survive.
  • Tiny shelters or complex colonies that you build as a team are shared for all players.
  • Fight as a pirate or a wingman in epic space battles with friends and enemies.
  • Race exocraft across weird alien terrains, creating race tracks and trails to share online.
  • Character customization allows you to personalize your appearance.
  • The game is fully playable in third or first person, both on-foot and in ship.
  • Planetary rings and improved space visuals make space more beautiful than ever.
  • Dramatically improved planetary terrain generation, ground textures, water and clouds bring the environment to life.
  • Significantly more detail added to ships, NPCs and buildings.
  • Bases can now be built anywhere on any planet.
  • Dramatically increased base building complexity and size limits.
  • Hundreds of new base parts.
  • Own multiple bases.
  • Assemble and upgrade a fleet of frigates and command them from the bridge of your freighter.
  • Send your fleet out to into the universe, or deploy them to help you as you explore a specific system.
  • Improved freighter base building allows a truly custom capital ship.
  • Invite your friends abroad and take on challenging multiplayer missions from the Galactic Commision Station on your bridge.

World of Warcraft Subscription Comes with Free Expansions

Blizzard Entertainment, creator of World of Warcraft, announced something they have never done before. Starting today, (July 18, 2018) new players can gain access to all World of Warcraft content up through and including the Legion expansion simply by becoming a subscriber of World of Warcraft.

What this means is that it will no longer be necessary for new players to purchase the original World of Warcraft basegame. In addition, all existing World of Warcraft subscribers have automatically been upgraded to Legion at no additional cost.

Today we’re also upgrading the World of Warcraft: Complete Collection for new subscribers, which will include all seven expansions – including a digital pre-purchase of the upcoming Battle for Azeroth – 30 days of game time, and one 110 Character Boost.

Note: The 30 days of game time is available for new subscriptions, only.

The pre-patch for the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion has launched. It is still possible to pre-purchase it. Battle for Azeroth will launch, in the Americas, Europe, Taiwan, Korea, and Australia/New Zealand at the same time on August 14, 2017.

Those who are brand new subscribers to World of Warcraft need to be aware that, even though they are getting several expansions for free, they will still need to purchase the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Overall, I think this offer is a good one. People who are considering playing World of Warcraft, for the very first time, won’t have to buy eight expansions at once just to play with their friends who stayed current.

Hearthstone Announces The Boomsday Project

Hearthstone, a game created by Blizzard Entertainment, has announced its newest expansion. It is called The Boomsday Project. The expansion will be released on August 7, 2018.

Operating out of Boom Labs – a secret world-class facility located in the beautiful, purple-lightning wracked floating islands of Netherstorm near Area 52 – the Boomsday Project is the brainchild of the renowned Dr. Boom. Once a researcher at Area 52, Dr. Boom struck out alone and became a rising star in the fields of Mech design and rapid catastrophe disassembly.

Dr. Boom is at the top of its field, and the time is ripe to tackle new challenges. Enter The Boomsday Project, a multi-disciplinary research endeavor that’s sure to change the world – forever! Somehow. His team is still working out the details…

Hearthstone borrows a lot of content from World of Warcraft (which was also created by Blizzard Entertainment). Netherstorm is a zone in World of Warcraft, and Area 52 is one of the locations in that zone. Dr. Boom is a non-elite quest boss that can be found in a camp that is located northeast of Area 52.

The Boomsday Project will feature 135 all-new cards. For a limited time after Boomsday arrives, Hearthstone players can log in and claim 3 card packs and a random Class Legendary minion (or Hero card) – both from the new expansion – for free!

You can preorder the expansion now. It comes with 50 The Boomsday Project card packs, 1 random golden The Boomsday Project legendary card, and the Mecha-Jaraxxus card back.

The Mega Bundle includes 80 The Boomsday Project card packs, 1 random golden The Boomsday Project legendary card, the Mecha-Jaraxxus card back, and a new Warlock Hero to add to your collection. The Warlock Hero is Mecha-Jaraxxus, Eredar Lord of the Mega Bundle.

It is possible to get both The Boomsday Project pre-purchase and the Mega Bundle. It is only purchasable one per account.

Headspace Goes Hands-Free

Headspace is an app that makes meditation simple. It teaches people how to mediate and live mindfully, and offers hundreds of themed lessons (including “bite sized” meditations and SOS exercises in case of a sudden meltdown).

Headspace has gone hands-free with Alexa and Google Voice.

Headspace is meditation made simple. And now it’s even simpler. Starting today, Alexa and Google Voice users can get some Headspace just by saying the magic words.

Those who use Google Voice can cue up a Headspace meditation just by saying, “Ok Google, open Headspace.” This works across all devices where Google Assistant is available, including phones, speakers, TVs, headphones, and more.

Those who use Alexa can cue up a Headspace meditation by saying the magic words, “Alexa, open Headspace.” This works across all devices where Alexa is available, including phones, speakers, headphones, and more.

Examples of voice commands include telling either Alexa, or Google Voice, to:

  • Talk to Headspace
  • Tell Headspace to start my daily meditation
  • Ask Google for today’s meditation
  • Tell Headspace I want to wind down
  • Tell Headspace I’m ready to sleep
  • Ask Headspace to connect my account

Headspace subscribers will be able to connect their account and continue their practice both through their device and the Headspace app. Headspace users who haven’t subscribed just yet will have access to the Basics, Sleep Sounds, and the Headspace Sleeping exercise.

Pokémon GO Celebrates its Second Anniversary

Pokémon GO is celebrating its second anniversary with Pikachu. Players have the opportunity to catch a new version of a Pikachu that is wearing a hat. Players who have earned the gold Pikachu Fan Medal will be able to purchase Pikachu related items from the Pokémon GO store.

None other than Pikachu has joined in to celebrate this momentous occasion, so keep an eye out for Pikachi and Pichu as they will appear more frequently tomorrow (July 6 PT) until July 31. Plus, this year, you can say hello throughout the month to a special “Summer Style” Pikachu, that’s decked out in a straw hat and sunglasses.

Players who have earned the gold Pikachu Fan Medal will be able to purchase special items, including a Pikachu shirt and Pikachu ears. You can find these items by selecting your Pokémon GO avatar, tapping “style” and scrolling through the hats and tops.

Pikachu ears cost 180 PokéCoins. The Pikachu Fan t-shirt is bright yellow, with long sleeves, and a large Pikachu on the front. It costs 250 PokéCoins. The way to obtain PokéCoins is to spend real-world currency in the Pokémon GO Shop. There are a variety of bundles to choose from, depending on how many PokéCoins you want to buy.

The Pikachu Fan medal can be earned by catching Pikachu. It doesn’t matter if the Pikachu you catch have a certain kind of hat, or no hat at all. They all count towards the medal. Players must earn the bronze and silver versions of a medal before they can earn the gold version.

To earn the Pikachu Fan bronze medal, players much catch 3 Pikachu. The silver medal requires a player to catch 50 Pikachu. The gold medal can be earned by players who catch a total of 300 Pikachu.

World of Warcraft Welcome Back Weekend

Blizzard Entertainment is doing a World of Warcraft Welcome Back Weekend. Players who have inactive accounts can play World of Warcraft for free for a limited time. It’s a nice way to get players back into the game before the new Battle for Azeroth expansion arrives in August.

Battle for Azeroth is approaching fast, and everyone is needed back on the front lines. This weekend, we’re upgrading all inactive World of Warcraft accounts to grant returning players full access to the game and all of their characters – without a subscription – through June 24.

In the blog post, there is an asterisk next to the word “game”. Players are responsible for any online connection fees. Game access will be granted at the last expansion the player purchased, or the Warlords of Draenor expansion, whichever is greater.

This is interesting, because Warlords of Draenor is not the newest expansion. The most recent one is Legion, which will not be provided for players who have inactive accounts and who play for free this weekend.

This might be problematic for players whose old friends and guildmates stayed active and who finished the Warlords of Draenor content quite a while ago. They could still play together, but would have to do it in what some would consider old content.

In addition, Blizzard Entertainment is offering 25% off select game services. This includes:

  • Appearance Change
  • Character Transfer
  • Faction Change
  • Name Change
  • Race Change
  • Character Transfer / Faction Change Combo

The offer does not include a discount on Guild Services, WoW Token, Character Boost, pets, mounts, or transmog items.

Discord has Added the Games Tab

Discord is used by a whole lot of people who enjoy playing video games. Pop into Discord, and you might see the name of the video game that a friend of yours is playing at that moment. Discord has added a new feature that lets you see what games all your friends are playing. It is called the Games tab.

The Games tab is your new home. It’s warm, cozy, and has all your Discord happenings in one place.

The Games tab will show you:

  • News about games you play
  • Launcher for games you play
  • What your friends are playing right now
  • What your friends recently played
  • Your friends’ Spotify listening parties, Twitch streams, and Xbox status

The Quick Launcher feature allows you quickly launch any game that has recently been played on your PC. The Quick Launcher feature does not appear in the Games tab if you are playing on a Mac (like me). It also is not designed to quickly launch console games.

The Now Playing feature will give you a quick view of what your friends are currently playing. Discord will automatically add anyone on your friends list who you chat with. Discord will also add users who you have talked to in voice chat recently, along with others from servers you chat on. You can also add friends.

Depending on the game being played you’ll get a quick view into who is taking part. If they are a member of one of your servers and in a voice channel, you’ll be able to quick jump over to the server so you can join in the conversation. If the game being played supports direct invites through Rich Presence, you can even join into the game right from that screen.

The Games tab will show you news about your favorite games, including the latest updates, patch notes, and clips.

If you are a Discord user who is located in the European Union, Discord will not automatically populate the Games tab for you. Instead, you will be asked via a pop up if you would like to add these features.

Discord users located anywhere else will automatically have these features enabled. The Discord blog post shows how to opt-out of them if you want to.

Pokémon GO will Include Trading and Gifting

Pokémon GO will be adding three features that I think will make many players very happy. The new features are: Friends, Trading, and Gifting. The Trading feature seemed to be in the video that was released when Pokémon GO first launched. Soon, players will actually get to make trades with their friends.

We’re excited to share brand-new ways to interact with your friends on Pokémon GO! The Friends feature will start rolling out to Trainers later this week, allowing you to connect with your real-life friends and keep track of their adventures in Pokémon GO. You’ll be able to send them items, earn bonuses – and even trade Pokémon!

The way to add someone as a friend in-game is to ask them to share their Trainer Code with you. Enter that Trainer Code and then send the person a friend request. If they hit “accept”, they will appear on your Friend List.

Spin a Photo Disc at a Pokéstop or Gym and you have a chance of receiving a special Gift. You cannot open the gift yourself, though. Instead, you must sent that Gift to a friend who is on your Friend List. He or she will be able to open it.

The Gift comes with a postcard showing where you picked it up. It will contain helpful items. Some Gifts might contain an Egg that, when hatched, will contain an Alolan form of a Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region.

Trading can happen between two players who are on each other’s Friends List and who each are Trainer Level 10 or higher. You can trade a Pokémon you caught for a Pokémon your friend caught. Completing a trade earns you a bonus Candy for the Pokémon you traded away. That bonus can increase if the Pokémon you traded were caught in locations far apart from each other.

Trades are powered by Stardust. Build your Friendship Level with the friend you want to trade with, and you can complete the trade with much less Stardust.

Nintendo Announced Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at E3

Nintendo announced a new Super Smash Bros. game with new fighters, stages, and more at E3 2018. It will be released on December 7, 2018.

Legendary game worlds and fighters collide in the ultimate showdown – a new entry in the Super Smash Bros. series for the Nintendo Switch system! New fighters, like Inkling from the Splatoon series and Ridley from the Metroid series, make their Super Smash Bros. series debut alongside every Super Smash Bros. fighter in the series…EVER! Faster combat, new items, new attacks, new defensive options, and more will keep the battle raging whether you’re at home or on the go.

Features include:

  • A new game in the Super Smash Bros. series
  • New fighters, new stages, and every fighter ever featured in the series…EVER!
  • Inkling from the Splatoon series joins the roster
  • Ridley from the Metroid series also joins the fight
  • Returning fighters include Wolf, Ice Climbers, Pokémon Trainer and more
  • Elevate the Super Smash Bros. experience to new heights with faster combat, new attacks, new items, and new defensive positions
  • Hold a 4-player-free-for-all, or kick it up to 8-player battles. (Additional accessories may be required for multiplayer mode. Game, system, amiibo and some accessories sold separately.)
  • All current Super Smash Bros. series amiibo figures are supported.

The retail edition of Super Smash Bros.Ultimate can be preordered now. Players in the United States can purchase it from GameStop, Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart or Target. Each one has priced it at $59.99. Canadian players can preorder the game from Walmart for $79.96. The digital edition of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is “coming soon”.