Tag Archives: Xbox 360

PAX Australia 2016: The PAXpocalypse

PAX Australia 2015 proved to be the best PAX Australia so far. My memories of PAX Australia 2015 mostly consist of drinking with industry people, meeting Paul Verhoeven, and being a panelist for the first time. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend PAX Australia 2016, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be helping you navigate the biggest convention of the year.

Travel

The closest international airport is the Melbourne International Airport, which is located in Tullamarine. To get to your hotel, you’re able to hire a taxi or rental car. However, there is a wonderful service called Skybus which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including public holidays. Skybus departs every 10 minutes and travels to the city centre.

PAX Australia will be held in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, along the lovely Yarra River.

Melbourne has some great public transport and it got better for out-of-towners this year. Through Zone 1, there are free trams which won’t require a Myki card. The free travel zone is clearly marked and the tram conductors will announce when they approach the boundaries. Information about the free travel zone is available here, which has a downloadable map.

Hotels

PAX Australia has changed its date! Instead of being held over Halloween weekend and directly before the Melbourne cup, PAX Australia now goes from.Friday 4th, November to Sunday 6th, November.

This doesn’t mean hotels won’t be limited this close to both events, so if your accommodation hasn’t been sorted out, you should probably get on that. Look to combine your accommodation with your friends to save some money and keep the party going all weekend long.

If your hotel is booked and ready, confirm your details with them a week or two prior. Make sure you ask what time you can check in and what time they want you to check out. If it’s a late check in, you might be able to leave your luggage with your hotel and explore the city until your room is ready.

Tickets

At the time of writing, 3-Day passes are 98% sold! If you’re quick, you might be able to score the best value ticked for the weekend. International 3-Day passes are still available, if you’re coming from overseas, as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets still in supply. So if you miss out on the 3-Day combo pass, but still want to go all three days, maybe pick up the tickets now. You can grab those here and then you can pick them up at the convention on the day.

What to Wear

Melbourne is notorious for its insane weather. It’ll swing widely from blistering hot to brain-numbingly cold and every variation in between at the drop of a hat. Here are a few tips to plan your outfit accordingly.

Shirt: Your favourite nerdy t-shirt is going to be comfortable and easily customisable for the weather. You might even make a new friend if you display your fandom with pride.

Pants: Unless you’re a cosplayer, you have to wear pants. Luckily, you’ve got a couple of options for your leg traps:

  • Jeans are your obvious selection; comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Skirts if you’re keen. I’d suggest a maxi skirt so you’ve got a little more clothing to keep you warm in case the weather turns on you.
  • Leggings/Tights. A popular choice with retailers like Living Dead Clothing, Black Milk and KittyHawk Clothing having styles and fandoms a-plenty. Like jeans, they’ll be easy to move around in when you’re busting a move at the Just Dance! booth.

Jacket/Jumper: This is where you need to be smart. You want something that will keep you warm, but won’t be too bulky to carry around or put into backpack. Keep that in mind when packing your comfy as heck, but huge N7 jumper.

Shoes: Whatever isn’t going to make you want to amputate your feet after 20 minutes of walking around. There is going to be opportunities to sit down (panels, lunch, randomly sitting down on the floor refusing to move), but you’re going to be walking around a LOT. Pack some comfortable flats or some sneakers, but just make sure they’re broken in properly first. Nothing ruins your day like blisters the size of dollar coins. (take it from me!)

 

**NOTE TO COSPLAYERS**

Same rules apply to weather and stuff. Rug up so you don’t turn into a cos-popsicle.

PAX has some rules about what cosplay weapons you can and can’t bring into the convention. Information is available on the official website, and the Penny Arcade forums, but I’ll stick the guidelines here too:

All prop weapons brought to the show MUST be approved at the Info Booth as soon as you arrive. We will be looking for the following criteria:

  • It cannot fire any sort of projectile. (Nerf guns are only allowed if they have been deactivated and cannot fire.)
  • It cannot be an airsoft weapon. (Yes, even if it’s deactivated.)
  • It cannot be sharp or pointy enough to cut or pierce someone with moderate pressure. This includes all real swords, daggers and knives. It also includes ceramic blades, needles, syringes and anything that can pierce (for example, a Little Sister syringe made of wood would not be allowed)

 

Upon approval, your weapon and badge will be tagged and catalogued.

The organisers also say “Cosplaying attendees may be asked to alter or modify their costume if it is considered to be overtly sexual.” More information about this is available on the official PAX website, under the “Booth Babes” heading. These rules are to make sure that the event is enjoyable for everyone, since PAX is still a family event.

Cosplay is a huge part of these events, but please remember, cosplayers are people too. If you want a photo, ask the cosplayer first. Cosplayers are generally pretty happy to have photos with people and they appreciate it when people ask before taking a happy snap. If you admire the costume, let the cosplayer know if a polite and courteous way, but don’t touch anything without permission. You don’t know if the bit you’re about to touch is held on securely or not.

Cosplay isn’t consent. Please don’t harass or assault cosplayers at events, as you could very well be escorted from the event and banned from returning.

It makes the day unpleasant for everyone.

Organising Your Weekend

This is going to be what makes your breaks your weekend. The great thing is that the PAX Australia schedule is released about a month before the event, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan where you need to be.

The Guidebook app will also come in handy. It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry so everyone is covered. The MCEC also has information available on their website about opening and closing times, plus maps of the centre. If you’re prone to getting lost like I am, having a copy of the map on your phone or a physical copy will save you. (Or just ask an Enforcer!)

My pick of things to do:

  • Check out Storytime with Major Nelson. Major Nelson has been an integral part of the Xbox landscape since 2003! You’ll also often see him in interviews at industry events, launches and other shows.

Mana/Health/Stamina

The most important thing about enjoying the weekend is making sure your stats are up. Making sure that you’re getting enough food and water through the day will guarantee that you’ll be able to experience all three days the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

The MCEC has a variety of food stalls around the place with sandwiches and snacks available, but this might be a little pricey. You can always pack your own snacks and lunch to save a little money (or give you more money to spend on con loot.)

PAX Australia also happens to be held along the Yarra River where the South Wharf Promenade boasts a collection of bars and restaurants for you to chill out during the weekend.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Take This are a non-profit charity which run the AFK Room at the PAX events in the US and this year, they bring the concept to Australia. From their website,

More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a safe space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues.

The 4-2-1 rule is a great guide to keeping yourself alive during this monster weekend:

  • 4 hours sleep (it’s a LONG weekend.)
  • 2 square meals a day (actual meals, not snacks or something)
  • 1 decent shower WITH SOAP (for the sake of everyone)

Finally

Have fun. Take photos, meet people, go to panels, play games, eat, drink and be merry. That’s what these events are about.

If you’ve missed any important information, here’s some great advice on the “Safety & Security” page on the PAX website, which is linked through this article.

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2014 Gift Guide!

beth_christmas_2007_topper

It’s that time of year again! With Christmas on the horizon, the difficult task of buying gifts becomes obvious. Being the well-skilled shopper that I am, I find buying gifts for my game-orientated friends the worst. It’s like buying shoes for someone without knowing their size.

So in the spirit of the up-coming season, I give you my guide to buying the perfect gamer gift.

Gift cards are the easiest solution for the picky gamer or someone you don’t know very well. Your friend can pick what they want without the risk of buying something said gamer already has or doesn’t want.

Games are a great gift if you know what your friend plays. Steam has a ‘wish list’ system that is a fantastic indicator. Games are ranked in the order that your friend wants them and they show up-to-date prices. If you’re buying a game for the console user, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network Store and the Wii store offer a range of games that be purchased using a credit card or a point-system.

As far as the consoles go, Xbox One and PS4 bundles are a great choice. EB Games have Xbox One without Kinect + 6 game bundles going for $529, Xbox One with Kinect + 7 games for $599 and their PS4 bundles are just as good. Several different game bundles with the black or white PS4 console available for $598. Other retailers like Big W or JB Hi-Fi will have similar bundles available, so shop around and see what you can get.

Nintendo released brand new 3DS consoles this year and they’re going for $250, gifted along with the new Pokemon Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby, Super Smash Bros or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you’re going to make any gamer happy.

Big name AAA titles like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4 have been reviewing well. If your gamer hasn’t picked up one of the later year release titles, they should definitely be something to check out.

If your gamer doesn’t play video games, try to find your local tabletop games shop. The staff are generally very helpful and friendly. Check out the Youtube series Tabletop, hosted by Wil Wheaton, for some fun board game ideas. Tabletop has given my friends and I some great games to play, including Gloom, Zombie Dice and the friendship-ruining card game Munchkin. If your tabletop gamer like RPG-style games, buying the miniatures they want or a set of really cool dice will get you some quality brownie points.

If your nerd has a game in mind, but it hasn’t been released, offer to buy the pre-order for them. Some pre-orders are quite cheap and you still get some decent loot with it. If they already have a pre-order organised but haven’t paid it off yet, offer to pay the rest off. Some collector’s editions can be upwards of $150 price wise, so buying it or paying it off is always a good idea and who doesn’t want a shiny new figurine for Christmas?

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State of Decay: Sink Your Teeth In

sodState of Decay is one of those games I’d heard great things about but already felt burnt out on. The zombie genre is a favourite with developers and the market is flooded with hoards (puns!) of them. But when my lovely friend gifted me the base game and the DLC, I decided to have a go at it.

At the time of writing, I’d played almost 10 hours straight without realising it. Thank GOD for days off, right?

State of Decay is a third-person zombie shooter with elements of stealth, resource management and base building thrown in. These gameplay elements help add extra depth to the immersion for the player. You need to make sure that all your characters are at full health, that there’s ammo available and you have an escape plan to get out of any sticky situations. My problem with a lot of zombie/survival games is that it’s run and gun; there’s no strategy. But State of Decay almost encourages you to have a strategy.

As you gather up more survivors to play as, they have mood swings and rely on other members of your group to help them through. The characters have enough personality to give you someone to pick as a favourite, but are plain enough so that you can put yourself in their shoes. Although, the way I’m playing, it’s a bit like an episode of Game of Thrones; I get attached to one particular character and then BAM! Eaten by a zombie. It’s a little tragic.

Gameplay and mission can lull from time to time, making things feel a little boring and repetitive. There’s a lot of potential for a variety of missions, but it’s mostly: go here, clear out this, come back.  I’ve currently found myself going around trying to find resources, waiting for missions to spawn because I’ve completed all the available missions. The missions I have completed have a good learning curve. You can do them on your own comfortably, or take along a fellow survivor to watch your back. Although, the AI can be a little… backwards when it comes to watching out for zombies; either super helpful or a major hindrance. The more you use a particular character, the better their stats get and the more helpful they can be.

My major problem with the game are a few rather annoying bugs I’ve come across when it comes to starting or closing the game. I found the game would crash when the music was muted, and I’m not sure what’s causing my game to bug out and crash when I’m trying to close the game from the main menu. The developer forums are helpful for finding work-around solutions for these bugs, but patching them hasn’t worked as of yet. From some Googling, my problems seem to be fairly common, so I’m hoping the developers are working to patch these out.

The music and graphics aren’t astounding, but it’s not a major drawback. In a world where everyone focuses on lifelike graphics and Oscar-worthy music, it’s kind of refreshing to have something that’s “not up to scratch”. The animation is a little buggy when zombies look like they’re outside, but are actually just clipping through a wall. I’ve wasted many a bullet hitting a wall where I thought I was aiming perfectly at a zombie’s face.

For a fairly generic zombie survival game, I’m sinking a disgusting amount of time into it. It’s got its claws right in and doesn’t really want to let go. The Lifeline and Breakdown DLC have great reviews online and the friend who gifted these to me raved about them when he bought them originally on Xbox Live. If you’re looking for a time sink, some good old fashion violence and nothing too complicated, State of Decay is perfect.

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Top 5 Childhood Games

Top 5 games, hey? This is something I’ve been asked to do a few times and something I’ve thought of doing for years but I always thought it was kind of cliché and overdone. However, after browsing the Playstation Store for some reasonably priced nostalgia, I thought I’d do a “Best Games of My Childhood” thing, so here we go!

 

#5: Tomb Raider (PSOne)tomb_raider_pal

Developer: Core Design

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

I don’t think it would be a list of (my) old school games without Tomb Raider appearing on the list. The first female video game character I can remember playing as, Lara Croft definitely a role model of mine. Her tough “take-no-prisoners” attitude from the first games, along with the supernatural side and puzzles makes this game a great memory in my mind. The recent remake of Tomb Raider really holds no comparison to the original PSOne classic.

 

psychonauts-xbox-cover-front-eu-43747

#4 Psychonauts (Xbox/PS2)

Developer: Double Fine Productions/BudCat Creations

Publisher: Majesco Entertainment/THQ

Okay, okay. So this game wasn’t released until I was 15 (2005) but it inspired a childhood giddiness that I couldn’t pass up when writing out this list. From the brilliant mind of Tim Schafer, it’s about a kid who runs away from the circus and has dreams about meat circus’, who could pass that up! Obviously the iconic part of Psychonauts is the Milkman conspiracy, but there are so many gems (characters and levels) in this game that you can’t really have a favourite.

 

#3: Crash Bandicoot (PSone)Crash-Bandicoot-1

Developer: Naughty Dog (Originally. After the franchise started to gain fandom, it was sold around to several different dev houses.)

Publisher: Sony Entertainment. (Same deal as above.)

Man, who didn’t spent countless hours playing as Crash? This game was a staple of any 90’s child’s gaming career. The levels varied from too easy to controller-crushing hard and no matter how many times you died, you went back for more. Based around a set of fictional islands in Australia, Crash has to fight his creator Dr. Cortex to save his girlfriend.

The game is one of the best-selling games Sony ever released and still stands as a classic against the platformers of today.

 

Supermariolandboxart#2 Super Mario Land (GameBoy)

Developer: Nintendo EAD.

Publisher: Nintendo.

This was one of the first handheld games I’d ever experienced. It was also my first introduction to Nintendo and a portly Italian plumber. I don’t think I ever finished it because of the lack of save feature and a knack for dying. Sadly, my Gameboy no longer works so I can’t go running world to world, jumping on Gooma and punching coin blocks, but I can remember the fun (and frustration) I had as a kid playing Super Mario Land alongside Mario.

 

#1: 40 Winks (PSone)

36475-40_Winks_[U]-1

Developer: Eurocom

Publisher: GT Interactive.

40 Winks came out in 1999 and is classified as a “survival horror” game. Which is kind of funny since it’s about a set of twins (about the age of 7) named Ruff and Tumble; it doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men. The idea of the game was that Ruff or Tumble (whoever the player chose) would fight through several 3D levels to save the Winks. The Winks are little creatures that help you have sweet dreams. But then Winks go bad, they give you nightmares!

You fight as robots, ninjas and super heroes to save the Winks from Nitecap and his minion Threadbear (his teddybear).

No shit, this game ruled my childhood.

 

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Call of Duty developer nerfs gun, players react appropriately

Call of Duty is one of those games people take seriously. Sometimes; way too seriously. In this case, it’s the latter.

CoD developer David Vonderhaan patched Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 recently to make the game a little more balanced. In the patched, he nerfed the stats of a sniper rifle, changing the fire time from 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds and the rechamber time from 1.0 seconds to 1.1 seconds. Point one of a second, people.

When the patch went live and the notes went up on the Cod:BO2 site, players reacted appropriately with constructive criticism and thanks… No, wait. That’s not right. They reacted the way you expect your typical Call of Duty fanboy to react; with threats of violence, death and cancer. I shit you not people. Some minor code was changed and these people act like the game was changed from Call of Duty to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

As pointed out on the Gamer Fury tumblr, Call of Duty fanboys used their vast knowledge of the English language to voice their anger over these changes.

hey can you un nerf THE FUCKING SNIPER U FUCKING CUNT WTF WHY DID U DO THIS IM GOING 2 KILL YOU! DICK HEAD FUCKING DIE!!!!!

– FeedMeCreate

omfg you fucking fat cunt i hope you die in a fatal car crash you fucking twat also your nan has cancer

— NeronV2

you are a prick messing up the snipers on BO2 and if u don’t sort it out am gonna rape your family ….. BITCH !!

— SwizzoM8

I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL YOU FUCKING COCKSUCKER AND I HOPE YOU GET RAPED AND GET AIDS AND DIE IN THE BIGGEST PAIN IMAGINABLE

— DJVAHNCOCKSUCKE

And not proper use of a punctuation mark in sight. I’ve had some anger when it comes to nerfing abilities in games, but it’s to balance the game and make it more fun, it’s not a personal vendetta against you. It’s also not worth threats of rape, violence, cancer or death. This kind of behaviour is why the gaming community and the industry at large has such a bad reputation in the mainstream media. Don’t feed the trolls, guys. Report them and move on.

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“Your Feedback Matters” – Microsoft Listen To Criticism and Change Everything.

Hardware developers have no respect for sleeping schedules I tell ya….

Today, Microsoft announced that it would remove the dreaded DRM and used-game policies that everyone has been so anxious about. Previously, your Xbox One would need to check in to the Xbox servers once every 24-hours to verify files. Microsoft tried to calm the waters by saying that the files that would be transferred were so small you could tether your phone to your Xbox for this check-in. Alas, the masses had spoken and they didn’t want to be anywhere near this DRM.

The used game policy was just as confusing and frustrating for consumers (even I’m still trying to get my head around the ex-policy). And that’s partly Microsoft’s fault, they weren’t very clear in explaining how trading and lending games. But they’re now changing the policy so that used games are handled the same way they’re handled on your Xbox 360; whether that’s a good or bad thing.

What’s new? The Xbox One is now region free which is something I’ve wanted for years. For too long have we been punished in Australia for our location and thus, we get games about a month behind the world (which the exception of one or two games to keep the unruly masses at bay) so now, you don’t have to wait. I’m a sucker for pre-order shinies so I might still have to wait, but at least I’ve got the choice to get a game in advance.

There’s an article on Gizmodo that outlines the ways that this change could really suck for the customer. It’s a really good read. I’d suggest going in with an open mind and seeing how it changes your mind on things.

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Send Rade to E3!

Hey guys!

If you follow the Facebook page, you’ll have noticed I’ve been somewhat excited about a competition I’ve entered to go to E3! So there’s two parts to it.

I had to write a 500 word review on an Xbox Live Arcade game from a small pool of games. As there were only 4 games (Trails: Evolution, Bloodforge, Fable: Heroes or Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition), I went through and read a little about each game.

Trails: Evolution didn’t appeal to me at all since it’s a racing game and I’m not that into them. Fable: Heroes looked okay but I don’t like the Fable games much. Minecraft: Xbox 360 edition was what I choose to review until I saw that it wasn’t available for some reason. WTF?

So I went with Bloodforge, a pretty typical hack-and-slash game that’s visually appealing. I only played about an hour of the game before writing my review since I felt I had learnt everything I need to know about the style, controls, storyline and characters. I knocked that out pretty quickly and sent it off to Seth! Seth had a small accident and through no fault of his own couldn’t return an edited version of my review so I did the best I could and edited it myself.

The second part was the harder part. I had to record a 2 minute video of why I should go to E3. I’d recorded that video a dozen times or more before I settled on my submitted work.

The Top 5 are meant to be revealed around May 17th-18th and they it goes to a vote. If I make it till then, I’ll be asking everyone to help me get there. Voting, sharing it with your friends, spamming everyone you know. Bribery won’t be looked down on as long as you vote.

Thanks for all your support!

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