Friday, January 30, 2015

Keep Your Hearts Open

Double whammy for you all this evening.

Unexpectedly, Anthony Burch, Borderlands 2 lead writer, is leaving Gearbox after the company announced at PAX  South that they were looking to add more people to their team to start game number 3. In his tweet to the world, he is moving to LA to be the head writer for a show. Jokingly he says there's a good chance that in 6 months he'll be back at Gearbox. Being in LA is rough.

Fans have been showing their support for him today, and we wish him the best.

And also in the news this evening, Monty Oum, the animator behind Dead Fantasy and Rooster Teeth's RWBY has been hospitalized for an unknown illness. Since posting, fans have been pouring in donations, raising nearly $100 grand to help cover his medical bills in 4 hours. The man is an artistic talent we haven't seen in years, and we hope he is able to recover from this sudden turn of events.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Mothership Has Arrived

I told you that 2015 would be the year of RTS.

When THQ filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Homeworld was one of the properties on the list. A 1999 PC games, with a sequel in 2003, was developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sierra. It’s considered to be the first, fully three-dimensional RTS game, which if you know anything about real-time strategies you usually look at them from a top-down view ala StarCraft or Command and Conquer. Having a game utilize the power of the PC in such a way was unheard of. Even now it’s very rarely seen. Homeworld was a game that wanted to fully immerse the player, which meant zooming around the ships at 360 degrees.

The Borderlands gurus at Gearbox took a chance and bought up Homeworld when it was auctioned off, and instead of hiding the title in their vault, they called up Relic and asked for their help to bring the game back. It was an unexpected turn, but so far it has produced some amazing results.

At PAX South, Homeworld was showcased in Gearbox’s panel rooms and the game looks and feels just as great as the original. Homeworld Remastered is an update on the original game and will include the sequel and multiplayer as well. The game will be sporting 4k resolution (and holy crap if the game looked that good on a large projector, I can’t imagine the view on a 4k monitor), updated graphics, cutscenes, voiceovers, and HD support.

The game is not a remake but an update to the original. All of the classic missions are still there, in tact, with a new coat of paint. A very shiny, expensive coat of paint. “So…how many bites was the original mothership?” “Um…200 kb. Now it’s 2 gigs.” Wow.

You start out as the Kushan, a race of beings that has been plagued by war and a temperamental environment. One day, they find a huge spaceship on their planet, one that was created by another race. It carried advanced technologies and spaceflight capabilities that allows your species to grow and find peace amongst themselves. As the Mothership takes form and becomes ‘sea-worthy’ again, the Kushan decide to explore the regions outside of their planet. Tragedy strikes on its maiden voyage, leaving you without a planet and 600,000 people to care for on your ship. Your goal is both revenge against those who destroyed your home and to find a new sanctuary for your race.

Some of the cool tweaks Gearbox and Relic added to the game including pausing mid-battle. It’s not a black screen or a menu. You see the ships frozen in animation, along with the lasers, torpedoes, and all of the shiny things going on in the background. They also called upon the modding community to bring Homeworld to a level of excellence we have never seen. Many of the upgraded ship designs are thanks to modders around the world who have kept the original game alive for so many years. You can also thank them in allowing HW to be a modifiable game at release. Yep. You can mod to your heart’s content and Gearbox is completely okay with it.

The game moves and flows so fluidly I couldn’t believe that this was the same HW that I was looking at from 1999. And for an extra special treat for fans of the original games, unaltered, will be available in the bundle as well and will work on current operating systems.

Gearbox also teased a potential spin-off game from BlackBirds Entertainment, code-named Shipbreakers. The product has been in the works for years and was intended to be a part of the Homeworld universe but not in direct correlation to the games. It’s still a work in progress and there is no release date for it, but chances are that the remastered HW will be a hit, and this game will see the light of day.

There is little that I can say about Homeworld that hasn’t already been written. It’s a beautiful addition to the series that didn’t pull a George Lucas and add new content. It’s the same game made for this generation. The quality of the product speaks volumes to the love the team had in bringing this piece back to life. Battle sequences move flawlessly. Zooming in on specific ships allows you to hone in on new audio files and dialogue you wouldn't experience when looking at the field en mass. And for as much action that occurs on the screen, you still feel the vastness of space; ships don't clutter the screen. This is a true "remastered" version of a game. Shiny upgrades without diminishing the quality of the true content.

The game is set to release on February 25th. If you are a fan of the original, the remake is a must-have item. Currently Steam is running a sale on pre-orders at 15% off. Snatch it while you can.

Aside: The end of the panel was capped with the destruction of the Mothership as requested by the audience. You have to end on a bang.

Ships…In Space!

One of the highlights of PAX weekend was a panel held by Firaxis to talk about the new Sid Meier’s game, Starships. Functioning as a stand-alone game, Starships is taking the Civilization franchise into a new area by focusing on building, ship customization, and tactical combat. It’s pretty darn nifty, if you ask me. The panel at PAX South walked viewers through the horde of creative elements in the game. It’s more than building an empire. It’s about ruling the galaxy! Kicking ass. Taking names. And being a bad mo-fo!

Clearly I’m in the 'Supremacy' mindset.

Something that really stood out to me at the panel is that Starships had more of an RPG feel to it. As you cruise across the galaxy and build up your ships, elements from past Civ games can affect how your ships act. Wonders, economy, and technology all play a part in what happens to your ships. Essentially it allows for an endless amount of customization, and thus a multitude of play-throughs where you won’t get the same game twice.

Starships is sort of an off-shoot of Beyond Earth. You don’t need the previous game to play Starships but you’ll miss out on some of the in-jokes and game references if you bypass it. Some characters from BE make an appearance in SS. Which is amusing because SS takes place, oh about 500 years in the future. You have colonized your first world and now everyone wants to know what happened to the people of Earth? What happened to the other ships that went out to other star systems? But as Meier said “its sci-fi.” The how and why on heroes from BE living another 500 years doesn’t have to be answered. They just do.

Like Civ games, you can choose how you react to the other space-faring ships around you. Are you friendly? Foe? Or an economic power-house. Because the focus is on customization, the progression system is fine-tuned to give the gamer the best experience possible of piloting their ships. You are not expected to micromanage your colony. You’re there to build a bad ass ship, but within the Sid Meier’s game spectrum. You start off with one ship, and can build up from there. Technology you acquire from missions and alliances allow you to upgrade your ship, and add more to the fleet. Combat is turned based, and environment factors such as asteroids can alter your ships trajectory. It can also serve as a barrier/shield from your enemy.

It’s a game I would expect from Meier, but with a new twist. Firaxis is taking the player on a journey into space by plopping us down in the middle of the action. The fun stuff! No release date has been finalized for the game, but it’s expected to be out by Q2 of 2015.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dungeon Defenders II

PAX South has made a very bold statement for 2015: It will be the year of RTS.

The floor was littered with real time strategy/simulation games. I don’t want to say literally out the butt, yet it was pretty close to hitting that mark. And it’s an excuse to say “out the butt” and have it out of context in regards to a bodily function. As far as the eye can see, RTS made itself known. It’s coming back into gaming with a vengeance. The two largest booths at the convention were Twitch and Greybox, a developer for the soon to release Grey Goo and Dreadnaught, both space-faring RTS titles. The booth was so large, and the demos were taking up to 30 minutes per person, it was impossible to get into the line. So we made use of the free spaces on the floor to check out the other games available.

One product that we enjoyed, so much so that we had to pre-order it for the early access at the booth, was Dungeon Defenders II. It’s an action tower defense game. You could call it an RTS to an extent because it requires you to act and react as the game play occurs, while giving you a chance to build up your defenses to ensure your home point isn’t destroyed by the enemy. Developed by Trendy Entertainment, the game builds off of the successes of the first Dungeon Defenders and adds new content.

For those who have not heard of or played the first game, the game play is relatively simple. You choose a hero to defend your home point. Each hero has a set of abilities that allow you to place towers or traps around the course and kill the enemy goblins as they try to overrun you. In order to place more traps you need to build up mana by killing enemies. Your hero can also move around the map and attack enemies that the traps may have missed; thus the action element of the game.

Some of the changes made in DD2 deal with abilities and mana. Mana was necessary to heal your hero, build your towers, and make upgrades. Mana is now split into Gold, to buy things, Building Mana, and Skill Mana. Hopefully those are self explanatory. Healing now no longer costs mana. It’s completely free, but there is a timer on how often you can use it. Heroes now have 4 abilities and 4 towers to use. Map progression contains minimum and maximum levels. If a high level player wants to jump to a lower level map, their stats will be balanced to reflect the level requirements. I approve of the level balancing.

As a first-timer to the game, they set the mode on easy. I felt that easy was too easy. I was given the role of the Huntress, who utilizes more traps then towers, and has a variety of long-range abilities such as a venom flask (which can be combined with the Squire or Sorcerer to create combos). She was also the only female Hero so take what you will from that. Her role is focused on supporting the other Heroes, but her arrows did pack a punch. I found myself handling one of the funnels of Goblin’s by myself, more often than not. I was hoping for a challenge, but mindless fun? I'll take it.

Part of the RPG elements in the game come from buffing up your Hero. As you kill goblins, some will drop new equipment for you to use, such as boots, chest plates, and weapons. These items are only accessible by you, so no one can sneak in and pick up the item. You also have the ability to view the item before you equip it. If you find it’s a crappy pair of sneakers, you can sell them off for Gold, and turn that money into another tower. I found this part of the game more enjoyable because you had some control over the customization of your character as your progressed in the game.

The game can be played solo or up to 4 players. While our headsets were busted, I could easily see why a team is preferred in this type of game. The game’s set-up emphasizes cooperative play. There are too many turns, corners, and alleys where the enemy can overwhelm one person. And your base stats, along with gold reserve, are just too little to handle everything by yourself. You need a team to progress. It’s as simple as that.

Now it’s possibly that as we are experienced gamers, we figured out quickly how to form up and execute the plan of attack. Squire and Monk on the front lines while Sorcerer and Huntress at the back. The Sorcerer’s towers work best on hilltops or open areas for AOE. Huntress’ can use her slow traps at the front to reduce enemy speed, or in tight corners. Monks and Squires are best for funneling enemies on a large field into a smaller area. So the lack of vocal communication didn’t hurt us. We had everything figured out in a few minutes and kept on going. You attack with your left mouse button and move your Hero using WASD. It’s an intuitively simple control scheme that even beginner players can easily adjust to.

As a whole I found the game enjoyable, and it will definitely be an entertaining time waster. The graphics are stylized like Wildstar, with colorful clothing and over-sized characters. The music was upbeat and didn’t feel forced. There were touches of ambient sound that surprised me. Typically a game like this wouldn’t think about such an insularly detail, but hearing birds chirping on the battlefield made the game feel real. Well, as real as it can be with goblins and talking cats.

I think this will be a fun game for Steam-heads who want a break from their first person shooters. The game currently has no release date, but it’s estimated to be out in 2015 on PC and the PS4.

All the PAX South Things!

Wow. What a weekend.

PAX South is the newest iteration of the expo franchise, now reaching most segments of the U.S. In their inaugural year, they didn’t disappoint. With floor space that rivaled the Boston Convention Center, South will only grow over the years, and I’m curious to see where it goes next.

Consider this my general, insider review of the experience. This round we went to a lot more developer panels then at past PAX experiences, and played a couple more games. I’ll be reviewing those separately from this post, because they each deserve to have a pedestal of their own.

Unlike other convention reviews, I won’t have a positive/negative column. No day-to-day entries. No meters or gauges. Not even an underwear rating system. This is a list of 10 things I have learned about PAX South, in no particular order:

1.) Cell reception blows. But that’s to be expected when 40,000 people descend into one area at the same time. What really kicked up the “ouch” factor is the WiFi, or lack of access. The Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio has only one tiny spot of free WiFi. The rest of the center requires you to pay to connect, which is horrid. We are in an era where free WiFi is expected when attending events of this scale. Yes, we understand that it won’t be the best service when everyone attempts to clamor onto it at the same time, but at least it’s there. No wonder the expo hall vendors were able to run credit cards so quickly. No one else was on the WiFi because they have to pay for it. For an expo of that scale, focused on digital content, having basic WiFi access is essential to your attendees.

2.) Enforcers are cool. They always are and always will be. But the Texan Enforcers really went up a level. Everyone was so nice! And it’s a comment I hear over and over again from attendees who have been to the other PAX events. Texans are just nice, friendly people. That’s all I have to say. You don’t have to be afraid of yelling or getting talked down to in order to make room in the hallway. They’ll come up to you, tap you on the shoulder, ask you quietly to move, and then chat with you about the event. Thank you for keeping up the Southern protocol.

3.) First year expos are always the testers. The convention will grow over time. Developers are testing the waters to see how the community will react after the first year before adding more to their lineup. And PAX only utilized half of the convention center space. The other half was taken over by a jewelers trade show. I’m sure we gave them a scare when they saw the throng of crowds coming through. PAX South will be bigger in the future.

4.) The location was puzzling at first. Why in San Antonio? Why not Austin where it’s a livelier night life? But seeing the city, I understand. San Antonio’s convention center is right on the river walk, one of the infamous touristy things one can do in the city. It also means there are a lot of hotels and restaurants within walking distance of PAX. It’s one of the few spaces where I didn’t feel trapped on-site and had to eat the $5 hot dog and $4 micro bottle of water. I could go out, get a good meal, and come back within an hour and not feel that I had my time wasted away from the Expo. San Antonio has the space to accommodate an over-sized expo crowd. Downtown Austin can’t say the same thing.

In that same breath, it was great to see local developers come out and support the show. A number of people I spoke with mentioned that it was their first PAX because their company couldn't afford to send representatives to the other locations. Texas is in the spotlight now and we have a huge gaming community!

5.) You want panels? We got panels. That’s the PAX South motto for the first year. There were panels, panels, panels, and more panels brought to us by the developers. We were able to see exclusives and game content not yet released to the public. I’ll have a full overview of Sid Meier’s Starships and Homeworld, among other games, but this is the type of thing that I felt PAX East was lacking in my trips out to Boston. Developer panels. We came for the gaming news and that’s what we got.

6.) Access to developers. This is a tricky technique that you have to master at conventions and expos: getting to talk to people in the industry. On the show floor it’s a bit easier for the independent devs because they are right there. They are trying to promote their products and want to talk to you. The bigger guys can be a challenge. Your best chance is to stand in the 5 hour long, get a front row seat, and bolt to the presenters table the second the panel is over to get in a few words before you’re ushered out. PAX South was much more relaxed. Big names hung around after panels, signed autographs, and talked with the attendees. There wasn’t pomp and circumstance. There wasn’t a crowd of Enforcers blocking people from their favorite gaming celebs. They walked around just like everyone else, and that was awesome. Really awesome. I met Sid Meier, a gaming icon I respect. I would never have been able to do that at PAX East.
7.) Posting the after parties online was a dumb idea. I point to reason #1 on my list. I think the only time I had a stable WiFi connection was as I was leaving San Antonio. The rest of the time it was loading bars. I’m sure the parties were great, but not knowing where they were because people were posting online kind of sucked.

8.) The anime fans looked confused. Texas has a lot of anime conventions. A lot. We host the third largest in the country annually. So seeing a few anime fans in the crowd was not unexpected. But you could tell that they were lost and had no clue what was going on. PAX runs very differently from anime conventions. The Expo floor is not a dealer’s den. Can you buy things? Absolutely. But the purpose is to drive pre-orders and future purchases of upcoming games by allowing you to test out the product before-hand. There are t-shirt vendors and table top content, but mostly the expo hall is to game, not to buy. If you want DVD’s and plushies, check out your local anime con. I wouldn’t be surprised if the set panel rooms of non-fan content also seemed foreign to the anime fans.

Note: I’m not dismissing anime fans. Everyone is welcome at PAX. I just wonder if they got the memo that this was an expo, not a convention.

9.) Gamers are just as bad as the other conventions attendees. They still don’t know how to bathe. Is a daily shower and deodorant that bad?

10.) Gamers are better than the other convention attendees. If you ever want to meet a more open, welcoming, thoughtful, considerate, generous group of people, come to PAX South next year. You won’t be disappointed.

Side note: We unintentionally took over a restaurant one evening when a crowd of 10 turned to 40+. We apologized to the wait staff all night, and did our best to be considerate, say our please and thank you’s, and tip well. We know that it’s a giant inconvenience to take over a large group when you’re a waiter/waitress. Part of your paycheck is based off of tips and the more table turn-over’s you have (i.e. the faster people get in and out) the more money you make. When it’s a large group, they tend to sit for the long haul and you’re less likely to make extra tips. But we did our best to be nice and tipped well (maybe a bit too well, the food was bland). The staff all thanked us for our kindness and for being well-behaved. They’re use to seeing large parties trash the space and not tip at all to compensate them for the time. But you know what? Pretty much every gamer is like this. We’re good people and we like to spread that to others. It’s just the few extreme cases that put us in a negative light.

Stay tuned to The Geek Spot for exclusive peaks from PAX South all this week! And check out all of the photos from the weekend through Flickr or CosPod.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PAX Going South

PAX South is 2 days away, and I'll be there this year to soak up all of the gaming goodness. For it's inaugural year, the PAX show is moving below the Mason-Dixon Line and letting the Southerners take a look at a video game expo. And it's going to be big.

The new Nintendo 3DS model will be available for play on the show floor along with the re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Sid Meier will be making an appearance to talk about his latest game, Starships. Even Dreadnaught, a hit with E3 fans, will be on the floor to test.

Gearbox and NCSoft will be butting heads with their developer days planned for the weekend. Even BioWare is competing for space with their room, offering content that will only be available to those who make it to their hide-away.

If you can't make it, Twitch is happy to provide you with some of the content with a lineup of panels and show-floor info.

Expect a flood of news from The Geek Spot starting next week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Sid Meier's Game!

Now for those of you not into strategy or building games, or you were maybe born in the last 15 years, you probably don't know about the greatness that is Sid Meier. He's great. Best known for the Civilization series, he has been a beacon of influence in the gaming realm since the 1980's and continues to publish innovative content today. Take a look at his Wiki page if you don't believe me. His content is one of the few that you can experience and say it is both fun and educational. It's where you learn what an 'almaty' is and what language Attila the Hun spoke. Meier's games prep you for Jeopardy.

2K Games and Fireaxis Games (the company Meier co-founded), are releasing a new game this spring for PC, MAC, and iPad. Sid Meier's Starships. It's Sid...his name has to be in the title somewhere.

The game will be more of an adventure-driven title, taking place in the Beyond Earth universe, where Meier takes you outside of the box of history. There will be a cross-connection between the games, but no word on how that will work quite yet. Starships is focused on exploration. Building vessels to take you out into space, more into combat, and see the universe. Meier was interested in seeing what happened after colonizing outside of Earth - what happens next to those people?

It's a new twist to the Civilization franchise by giving players more active components in the game. I can't wait to see a demo in action.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Is Rock Band 4 In Our Future?

Will a new Rock Band be coming soon? That's the buzz according to a survey released via social media posted by Harmonix, prompting fans and gamers to provide input on what they would like to see in a future Rock Band. The series is touted as fine-tuning the "band" process of the musical game genre. While we look to Guitar Hero as the king of metal, Rock Band provided us with a group experience, and variety.

This isn't the first time Harmonix has done this. Back in 2010 when the fad for music games began to cool, they prompted users to provide feedback on the type of band games they might be interested in for the future. The survey listed 5 bands ranging from U2 to The Eagles and asked would you buy their product. There was an optional fill in feature where I listed Depeche Mode, and then went back and said South Park. Because a South Park music game would be fantastic. Wouldn't you like to belt out 'Chocolate Salty Balls' from your living room and freak out your neighbors? I know I would.

The survey goes through the usual: location/country, which games do you own, which functional peripherals do you have, etc. It also asks you to rank which features of Rock Band kept you playing. Was it the music? The online multi-player? The ability to get DLC on a weekly basis? This time around there are no notes or fill-in-the-blank options. Sorry kids. But I do hope they will consider South Park as an option. Still. To this day. I will buy it. Guaranteed.

It's funny. We were just talking about Rock Band last night while I appeared as a guest on the podcast Trade Paper Hacks. My drum set has a layer of dust on it, while one of the hosts was playing his the night before. "People still play Rock Band?" Apparently so. Get ready to pull out those guitars from the depths of your closet, and hope that your microphone is still working.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Rarer They Are...

Over the past few weeks I have mentioned a few posts regarding older video games, trade-ins, and how to get the most value for your product. i100, an independent British news source, came up with a list of the top valuable games to sell, should you be cleaning out your closet anytime soon. Keep in mind that the amounts are in the British Pound.

The top game listed is Gamma Attack for the Atari 2600, ranging from 13,200-32,900 pounds. That's roughly 20-50 thousand dollars. The rest of the list marks games that most of you probably don't know of. Stadium Events: Gold Edition is there and continues to be a commodity. But why the disparity? And where did the reporter get their facts? There are no link backs, no ties to any form of research. And the giant leap in pricing for Gamma Attack has me questioning the accuracy of the list.

I believe the article found it source at with a list of the rarest video games sold online. The source is old, circa 2009 with the last published update in 2012, but it does point out WHY some of those games are rare. Gamma Attack for example had a limited production life and there is only 1 known copy of it to exist in the world. The original EBay listing in 2008 didn't sell, but there was a rough estimate that the value of the game was $5-10 grand. By today's estimate, people believe it's worth up to $50,000. So who know. But the chances of you having this gem in your stockpile is 0 because so few copies exist.

That's the big difference between a mint condition copy of E.T. and a cracked case Stadium Events. An estimated (and probably over-inflated number) 750,000 games are buried out in New Mexico and a lot of them have E.T. on the label. E.T. is a dime a dozen. They flooded the market. Only 26 copies of Stadium Events in it's gold form exist. It's a simple numbers game.

More product, less demand, lower value. Less product, high demand, higher value.

Another rare game, Atlantis II, falls into the same scenario. Back in the 1980's, when many of you were still toddlers or maybe just a flicker of hope in your parent's eyes, game companies would hold game tournaments to help boost sales of their products. Top contenders typically received special cartridges of their flagship products as a reward or to use in competitions. Atlantis II is just that - an evolved version of Atlantis for the Atari 2600, a faster paced, more challenging version of their original game. Competitors vied for a chance at a $10,000 grand prize (which is still a lot today, I would argue) and some cool scuba gear for the other winners. But no one collected the games after the contest ended, and additional copies were never produced. Now it's considered a treasure by many.

It is possible to have a gold mind in your house that you aren't aware of. I know my prize possessions include some versions of Final Fantasy that have never been opened, and contain art work only used in certain releases of the original games. I have an unopened FF3 from Japan. gorgeous box. But I'm also realistic about my expectations of my collection. A general Google Shopping search shows that the pricing is all over the map. Some people are giving away their unboxed versions for a few bucks. Some want over $900 for FF3 the NA edition. The game is 'maybe' worth $500. Maybe. I realize the rarity of it, but $900 for FF3 NA? No way.

This is reinforcing the idea to be honest with yourself about your games. Treat them well. Keep them safe.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Music on Twitch

Copyright laws are tricky. There are so many nuances and caveats that it can be a minefield to navigate. What is and isn't protected? Can I play 'this' music even though it's owned by 'that' composer? Do I have to pay money to play that song? What about remixes and remakes; aren't those protected by free speech that I don't have to pay royalties on?

In the digital realm, it becomes even trickier. YouTube videos with a music overlay from a popular song/artist can help drum up hits, but if you're making a single penny off of it, it's considered illegal if you did not get the consent of the artist/recording company to use the song. That's the issue Twitch has been facing as of late. With millions of people using the service daily to stream and watch videos, copyrighted music playing can lead to legal recourse. If you want to be the next Heavy Metal Gamer on Twitch, you probably shouldn't use Metallica as your background music.

To curtail the legal woes, Twitch has launched a service called, appropriately, the Twitch Music Library. It is a database of songs that have been cleared for use for streaming over Twitch videos and with archived gaming sessions without worry that you have to pay "the man."

Currently the system lists over 500 songs. Mostly independent or free-share music has been added, but they plan to grow over the years to include current Top 40 hits. Essentially, it's a blanket copyright system that YouTube has adopted to help ensure their users are less likely to be sued, and thus the company as well. As long as you use music from the database, you're good. Earlier attempts by Twitch to mute or remove audio from archived videos proved faulty, sometimes removing crowd noises in the game, deleting the streamer's voice entirely, or blanking out music that was owned and created by the streamer. No system is full-proof, but it's a good start for streamers who are worried about using content that may bite them back later once they start making a profit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writer's Guild Awards for Gaming

It's award season, and even the Writer's Guild of America gets in on the action. We can't leave the writers out, now can we? They make up the stories that are told on the screen. What you may not know is that the Guild also has a Video Games category.  Since 2008, games have been included in the ceremonies as the media continues to expand and take over film and television viewers.

The 2014 nominations were announced on Monday, and applied to games released December 1, 2013 to November 30, 2014 and include on-screen credits for writers that are members of the guild. Which is why you'll see the likes of Call of Duty and almost no independent developers. This year's list includes:

  • Alien: Isolation, Writers Dan Abnett, Dion Lay, Will Porter; SEGA
  • Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, Lead Scriptwriter Jill Murray; Scriptwriter Melissa MacCoubrey; Story by Jill Murray, Hugo Giard, Wesley Pincombe; Ubisoft 
  • Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Story by Alexandre Amancio, Sylvain Bernard, Travis Stout; Scriptwriting Alexandre Amancio, Travis Stout, Russell Lees, Darby McDevitt, Ceri Young; Additional Scriptwriting Jeffrey Yohalem; Ubisoft 
  • The Last of Us: Left Behind, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment
The Last of Us did win in 2013, but this is the re-release with the added content, and since it's considered "new" it qualifies for another award. See. People in the business do care about video games. If you're a member of the guild and pay your fees. It still counts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dev Diary Questioning Gaming Maturity

Dontnod Entertainment partnered up with Square to publish their latest game Life Is Strange, an episodic series set to release starting January 30th on PC and consoles. In their first Developer's Diary on YouTube, they're stirring the pot, calling out other publishers who denied their game because the lead character was female, and praising Square for allowing them to keep the game as it stood.

"Square is basically the only publisher that didn't want to change a single thing about the game," said creative director Jean-Maxime Moris. "We had other publishers telling us 'Make it a male lead character,' and Square didn't even question that once."

This isn't the first time Dontnod experienced this. Their first game Remember Me, which critics enjoyed and has one of the most sensible female characters I've seen in decades, went through the same tribulations. Publishers wanted the lead character to be male, and to remove a kissing scene because "now it involves 2 men and we can't have that."

"You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward."

Capcom eventually published the product for the PS3.

We're all fully aware that anyone who isn't a white, straight, male is not going to be on the cover art for a video game. But to hear a developer being told to change their character's gender, therefore changing the content and context of their entire product, is, well, shocking. Knowing it versus hearing it are different things. According to EEDAR, a private consulting group, male-only hero games sold 25% better then a female options, and 75% better when there was only a female hero. 

Some news publications such as Tech Times say we should support companies like Square for providing more variety in the marketplace.

I think Tech Times forgot about the alterations to Lightning from FF13 to give her a bigger bust and slimmer waist, as well as the all male cast of FF15 including a very chesty/low clothing option female Cid. Mad Moxxi in her "hoodrat" mechanic clothing is covered up a lot by comparison, and she oozes sexuality.

In their video, Dontnod makes a very valid point that the industry will never mature if we keep placing games into a box and ask developers to not move outside of those confines."The only games that will sell are white, male heroes." Much like Hollywood, games are stuck in the old methods of development - the same ones that caused the bust in the 1980's, and we really don't want that to happen again. (Or maybe we do. Imagine a sea of Call of Duty games being buried in the dirt.)

While there have been a few games here and there with female leads, such as Beyond Good and Evil, they make up the tiniest margins of the gaming pool. It makes me wonder if the EEDAR research is even valid. Because the market is saturated with one type of hero, it's what we are accustomed to and would default to that based on our past experiences. The other options are almost always never available. If you want to be a different race? Best pick up a football game, because the options are limited. That's sad when you think about it. There's an inherit bias in the research.

I honestly don't know what it'll take to get publishers and developers to wake up and realize all of the content they are missing out on by limiting their scope of who should play the hero. Maybe it will require another video game bust to make it happen? None of us want that, but sometimes hitting the bottom of the well can bring clarity within the tight space.

Monday, January 12, 2015

GameStop Streaming Services Coming Soon?

The motto "better late then never" is very much GameStop's creed as the retailer looks to start streaming promotional content to customer's mobile devices and their stores. Imagine, GameStop on your phone 24/7.

That's a creepy thought.

The company plans to work with Microsoft and their cloud platform called Azure. With it, they plan to stream content to consumer's phones and Windows-based tablets everything from advertisements, to game trailers, and potentially a digital check-out process so that you don't even need the store associates! Well, except to put the game in the case... They also plan to expand the services for those who opt in to the promotional e-mails and marketing bursts. Customers can receive a customized shopping experience based on your past purchases and items of interest. Yes. GameStop does keep tabs on what you buy with your Edge Card. But now, they can use that to bring you more stuff if you want them to!

It's unsurprising that GameStop is moving down this path, but they're a little behind the curve. No word on a date of release, but if you're a GS fan, then step right up.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Is Elder Scrolls Online Going Free To Play?

That's the murmur in today's headlines after EB Games Australia began pulling The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) from their stores along with the prepaid gaming cards. Everything related to the game is to be removed from the retailer by January 14th, based on a reported notice sent to stores. According to EB Games Facebook page, this is part of a recall by the manufacturer. It also includes pulling games such as Destiny and The Evil Within. Which is a really vague way of saying "the publisher wants their game back."

Having worked with the company (EB/GS) for years, a 'recall' can mean one of several things: the product is being discontinued, there is a physical flaw in the product (games are patched all the time these days so digital flaws are no longer tagged for a recall), or the publisher is altering the product for future consumption.

But there is a concern amongst fans of the game, when just a week ago TESO users found the 6 month subscription model removed from the system. Weak subscription numbers are typically the reason on why a publisher would pull an MMO. Unfortunately Bethseda has been very quiet about releasing this information. The last check was in June at 770 thousand subscribers, based on a report from a research company not affiliated with the publisher. I remember a lot of hype leading up to the release of the game, especially in 2013. The booth at PAX East was enormous and the line was never-ending. Once you were in, you could expect a 5-6 hour crawl before you touched the demo. From what I saw, it looked pretty. Couldn't get into the line fast enough to test.

But when you factor in the layoffs of some TESO team in September and the general decrease of subscription numbers across the board for MMO's (except World of Warcraft), it's easy to see why people are under the assumption the TESO will go to the Free-To-Play format. Recent history of MMO's such as The Old Republic have shown that FTP is almost expected. The Star Wars game is living on with this model well enough that it developed an expansion pack. The logic is consumers who love the game will pay for it; customers that subscribe get perks that the FTP consumers do not see. And those who are FTP are not cheated out of the story. Unlike some flash MMO's and RPG's such as Maple Story, which restrict you on story, character choices, items, etc. until you pay, TOR, Guild Wars (which has always been FTP after you purchase the boxed game), and Age of Conan allow you to play the game in it's entirety. If you want to reach level 50 as your warrior in AoC, you can do that. Even in WoW there is a Free to Play aspect. Restrictions are there, such as limited inventory space, a limited number of trades per day, things of that nature. But when you purchase the game, you're getting the game. The limitations are non-existent by comparison to the flash MMO's.

There is also the concern that TESO may shut down entirely. It's not exactly unheard of. Warhammer Online did this in 2013. There was no early warning. No time to say goodbye to guild members and friends. The company posted a notice on their website and gave everyone a few hours to grab their last screenshots before the servers were turned off. Even better, those who paid their subscription fees only received a partial refund, and time card users had to argue with the stores for a refund. (I snicker at the latter, because those time cards can not be refunded at any retailer. Brick and mortar stores make a tiny percentage off of those sales - it all goes back to the publisher because it's an even exchange of money. Just as if you buy a Best Buy gift card at your local grocery store. The cards are there as a way to lure you to purchase other things. That's why they're typically situated around candy and magazines, products that are easy to pick up and add to your cart because "it's just another dollar." That's how the stores get you. But I'm digressing. Once that game card is purchased, all responsibility is on the publisher to help you with any concerns. Stores do not have a way to activate, deactivate, exchange, or refund those products. They are, essentially, a store-front for the product but have 0 control over them. If you ever have a game card issue, go to the publisher. The retailers hands are tied. And that's a good way to keep the money, Warhammer! Offices are closed. No way to issue a refund!)

To be frank, some games are not meant to be MMO's. Taking a racing game or a single player RPG and transforming it into online content is not an easy feat. Elder Scrolls is about the solo experience. You are the lone warrior set out to save the world from whatever evils may await you across the landscape. Part of the game's lure was to explore the space and face perils by yourself. There's beauty in that concept, and it doesn't translate as well when you throw a thousand people into that mix, all attempting to do the same thing.

Games such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft were developed with the group experience in mind. The RPG's of Final Fantasy always centered around you AND your bounty of companions saving the world. It was never one person that saved the day, but a collaboration. This is where properties that currently exist trip up when they make the move online. If you don't have that group dynamic already in place, it doesn't work. That was one of my biggest concerns when Alpha and Beta testing TOR. What about this game would convince me to play with a group when the story and content is focused on the single player?

I get the feeling that is the struggle TESO couldn't overcome.

Given that TESO was only released in April of 2014 and still has a lot of life in it, the game servers going down is unlikely. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next in the Elder Scrolls saga.

Mint Condition Stadium Events Up For Grabs!

And look at that. Just as I post an updated version of "How to Sell Used Games" someone went and started a bidding war for an unopened copy of Stadium Events.

Factory sealed? Wow. This may top the last bid, around $40,000 USD, and it has 6 days until the auction is up. Track pad not included, but this is an item collector's should be frothing at the mouth for.

Time to break open the piggy bank and cash in those checks from grandma.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Selling Used Games, for 2015

This morning I had the pull in my brain to review some of my past entries on The Geek Spot. It's something I enjoy doing from time to time to see where I've been and how far I have evolved in my writing. What caught my attention first was a commentary about a Yahoo article, sponsored by RadioShack about trading in video games.

I can not believe that just a few years ago I sounded so juvenile. It almost seems like an entirely different person wrote this piece. Though it's good to see that my sarcasm meter is still in check.

"It’s a RadioShack ad. And oh look! There’s another picture-ad just to the right of this “article.” Wow!"

When you gloss over the bullet points, many of the things that I commented on regarding how to trade in games, and what will garner you the most cash, are still very valid points. As Wal-Mart expands their empire to include game trades, and the market is changing with digital downloads on the rise, this feels like an appropriate time to review my original blog post and reflect on the changing trade-in market.

The post broke down 9 key points to consider when trading in a video game for cash. Many of those are still valid, but I feel they need to be expanded upon:

1.) Your game will never be worth the original purchased value. 

Just like when you buy a television, a car, furniture, you name it - the moment that product is in your hands, the value of it will change. Most of the time, it will depreciate. It's considered "used" once you open the game from the box. As such, if you try to sell it back, the price is going to change. Any pawn shop or auctioneer will tell you the same thing. Not every game you own is of value. That's a common misconception, and TV shows such as Storage Wars both highlight and dim the reality of what is auction-able, and what is not.

So when you go to your local GameStop or try to sell your game through, keep in mind that you will never get the original $59.99, plus tax, value.

2.) Retailers are a business. Value of your game will be low.

This has not changed, and never will. Even as Wal-Mart promises trade in values that are higher then their competition, they are still low when you compare them to their resell value.

For those who are unaware, trade in stores like GameStop and Entertainment Co. re-sell the trades for a profit, just like a pawn shop. They buy an item for a low price and stock it on their shelves at a higher dollar amount to make a profit. That's how it works. That's the business of it. You can argue about your rights as a consumer all you want, but these companies are within every legal right to make prices as they see fit. If they feel your Madden 2015 is only worth $1.00, that's their call.

Which leads into...

3.) If you do not like the value of the trade, you don't have to take it.

Again I have to reflect on my experience in customer service, where it was common to receive this call on a daily basis:

"I only got $15 bucks for 20 games. I want my money back!"

When you go to have your items appraised by an auctioneer, it is not required for you to sell the products right then and there. You have the option to wait and think about it. The price given to you may not last, but it gives you a ballpark on what your stuff is worth.

Game trading stores work exactly the same way. You do not have to take their deal if you do not agree with it. Ever. You are within your right to say "No thank you," pack up your things and try another retailer. This concept seems lost on a number of people who feel that trading in games through Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc. is the only way to go and you HAVE to accept the response. You don't. And once you say yes and the transaction is finalized, that's it. No returns on trades.

Trading in games this way is convenient. That's the benefit of the system. Part of the cost is the lower value of your games. If you want a higher value, there are other outlets you can go through, such as selling them yourself online through auctioning websites. It does mean you have to put more work into it, marketing and writing descriptions on your products, but you have a greater chance to earn more money this way.

4.) Do Your Research.

I don't think I need to expand on this. It's fairly self-explanatory.

5.) Keep your games clean. Keep the manuals. Keep the boxes.

As the collectors start scrabbling up the rare games, the products that stand out the most are the ones that are in near-mint condition. Not just the games, but the games in the box. It's quite rare to find a game in such a state, and collectors eat them up.

If you are seriously considering on making gaming into a collectors field, it's fairly easy to do. Don't throw away your boxes or manuals and keep them dust free as much as you can. Place your games on a shelf, away from direct sunlight (which can cause the cases to warp or the box art to fade over time). Keep hands clean when you handle the boxes. Handles games with care so as not to scratch the discs.

These simple steps can really expand the lifetime of your games. And yes, collectors care about this stuff. We want products in good condition, not a broken disc. And with fewer discs coming out, the desire to own one is higher which means, better pricing on your products.

6.) Considering selling online.

The original #6 is gone now that stores are more centralized by corporations to follow a set system. Pricing on trades could vary from region to region, but that's not as common as it use to be. Selling online is all too common.

As mentioned in #3, if your stores trade in value are low, going online is a good alternative. Not everything will sell, keep in mind, but your old copy of Call of Duty Modern Warfare may net you a few extra dollars then what the store would offer.

Some things to keep in mind: You'll be in charge of taking good photographs of the game and it's condition. Be honest about your description and the condition of the game. Offer a reasonable price (no one wants Madden 2015 for $59.99)-this is where researching comes in handy. You have to consider things such as shipping fees and packaging.

This route does take more work, but can net you a higher profit. And if you have games that won't sell try website Declutter. They will buy any video game. Yep. Any. Video game. Some stores won't accept anything earlier then the PS3/XBox 360.

7.) Visit local gaming and comic conventions to sell your stuff.

As conventions are becoming more popular amongst the nerds and geeks of the world, game traders are setting up shop in the expo halls as well. Some will take your games off your hands right then and there, if you're willing to lug them to the convention. The trades are sometimes better then at the store. Sometimes, they're not. It's best to talk to the staff on a Friday of the convention and work out a potential sale before lugging in your collection.

Remember: Staff won't give you a dollar amount until their hands are on the game and they can inspect it.

8.) Be honest about your games pricing.

This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when starting a collection. Not everything you own will have value. I know that some of my Nintendo games are not in great condition. Some of the labels are torn off or the boxes have been damaged heavily. I know their value is not as great. I keep them around because I like the games and I still play them on occasion. One day they'll be sold, and not for a high value. Maybe 50 cents each, and that's perfectly fine.

Don't get caught up in the hype of large game collections selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Be realistic with your games and their worth. It'll save you a lot of headaches over time.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Sports News - Gaming Style

Doubling up on the sports news today. A federal appeals court in San Fransisco on Tuesday announced that a lawsuit from several former NFL players against Electronic Arts is on enough legal grounds to be pursued. The claim is that EA did not properly compensate the individuals involved and/or did not gain permission to use their likeness in the Madden NFL game franchise. This is another in a string of lawsuits against EA. With gaming sales taking over movies and music, globally, for billions, people are now paying attention and want a piece of the pie. Is that a bit cynical of me to write? Maybe. Five years ago our concern was about selling violent video games to kids, visa-vie the supreme court, not about using one's likeness in said game.

The appeals rejected EA's claim that the use of the images was coincidental, and should be protected under the First Amendment. The main ruling outlines that part of the commercial appeal to the Madden title was using real-world players images to sell the product, therefore not incidental. And just like the NCAA case, the claim of First Amendment coverage does not apply. There was intent to use player likeness, according to the court.

The Video Game Lawyer has hit the nail on the head. 2015 is going to be the year of lawsuits for image likeness. I get the feeling EA is going to lose this case as well, based off the NCAA ruling. That doesn't mean that Madden will be taken off the shelves, mind you. The NFL has a strong deal with EA and that would be commercial suicide for both parties (EA and the NFL) to split up a product that guarantees sales. Handling image likeness today is outlined differently then what it was a decade ago, where a number of the complaints originate. So don't fret Madden fans. You'll still get your football action.

Moving on to eSports, the University of Pikeville, Kentucky, is now the second school in the nation to offer video game scholarships for League of Legends. Robert Morris University in Illinois was the first back in June of 2014. But Pikeville is expanding the scholarship into a full-blown eSports program. Students admitted will be placed on the same level of expectations as any Pikeville athlete. They are expected to maintain a certain GPA and attendance record. There will be team meetings and training sessions.

While their focus will be on LoL, they plan to expand with the Collegiate Star League program to include Star Craft II and DoTA. They will face against other college eSports programs such as Duke and University of Kentucky. Scholarships will begin in the fall of 2015.

My question is where were all these scholarships when I was growing up? Even if my pursuit wasn't gaming, to have funds going towards my education would have been incredibly helpful. Thanks world for being so slow to catch up on the craze.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

PS Now Releasing Next Week

PlayStation Now's services are at the point that they are fine-tuning the product. The feature has been in testing since January of 2014, with leaks on products and pricing in early March. Essentially it is a cloud-based streaming, rental network where users can download and play games for a monthly fee.

PS Now will be released on January 13th in the U.S. and Canada with two subscription plans: 1 Month for $19.99 or 3 Months for $44.99. The 3 month plan offers a savings of $14.98, for those keeping track. The services will be launched through the PS4 first before moving on to other PlayStation devices.

The format is very much like Netflix, in that you can rent out games one at a time, and play as many as you like over the course of the month (if you have the highest tier services of Netflix, that is). You don't own the game. You're renting and returning. All content is stored on Sony's cloud services so content isn't downloaded to your system. So yes - an active internet connection is required to get to the games. Saved games will still be stored on your hard drive. But Sony is promising over hundreds of titles, PS3 and PS4, that will be available with the service. I'm not sure how this will work for games with DLC or online multiplayer. I have the feeling those features will be disabled to avoid unhappy customers. "I bought the DLC and I don't have the game anymore. I want a refund!" I wonder how often that happens with EA and Ubisoft...

Monday, January 05, 2015

Sony Response To PlayStation Network Hack

As it has become customary for Sony to provide content for customers with downed networks during the holiday season, Sony has announced some "perks" to compensate those who could not access the PlayStation Network during the Christmas outage.

The list is not as impressive as it has been in previous years:

- Current PlayStation Plus members will receive a 5 day extension to their subscription.
- New memberships or free trials that had an active subscription up to December 25th will also receive the 5 day extension.
- Sometime in January, Sony will release a 10% discount code that will apply to all products in your shopping cart through the PSN. This is valid for all PSN members.

And that's it. No free games. Just a couple of extra days on the house if you already have Plus.

My initial stance on the whole hacking situation hasn't changed much. This was an issue outside of Sony's control - an outside forced hacked into their systems and brought down the network. This is something that, unfortunately, has been happening too often. Why hackers want to bring down a gaming network? I don't know. They apparently enjoy annoying gamers instead of using their abilities for social causes, like spreading the word about how 1 in 4 people in Texas, 49 million people in the U.S., face hunger daily - never knowing if they will get another meal. That seems like a cause worthy of informing the country about, not taking down gaming networks. But, to each their own.

It's not the end of the world if the network is down. However as a PS Plus subscriber, I could see where the money would be considered a waste. Unlike the PS3, the PS4 requires you to have a subscription for online game play, similar to Microsoft. So a few free-be days to add to your time card is an acceptable form of compensation. For the rest of us? Don't get into a hissy-fit. The network is back up. It didn't ruin your Christmas or your New Years. Go game and get over it.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition Sucks When You Have OCD

OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a common term thrown around by people these days who want organization. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have it, but everyone assumes so because it has become a buzz word associated with all things orderly. OCD is an anxiety disorder believed to be caused by intrusive thoughts, that results in unease, worry, apprehension, and repetitive activities. Washing ones hands multiple times throughout the day when it is unnecessary is an example. There are varying levels of OCD, and there are extreme cases. Something as inauspicious as locking and unlocking your door a set number of times can be a sign that you have OCD, even in it's mildest form.

I do have OCD. Not self-diagnosed, and it is in lightest form. My major "tic" involves my car. I have to wipe the wheels 3 times when cleaning it. Or when I'm pumping gas, I need to turn the gas cap 6 times before I feel it's completely secure. I realize those are stupid and yes, the gas cap is totally secure after 2 clicks. But I need to hear 6 before I'm satisfied. Don't ask me why. I don't get it. My OCD also manifests itself in other ways, allowing me to be more detailed and organized then most. I thrive on spreadsheets and timelines - and I work on projects until they are completed. That's more of the hipster version of OCD, but it's how I've always been. It allows me to be a reliable person in the work-place and for MMO's when someone is needed to plan a raid.

It's also why Dragon Age: Inquisition is a horrible game for me to play.

After an Amazon sale that I couldn't pass up on, I started my adventure as an Inquisitor. And for the most part, I'm enjoying the game. Review to come at a later time. But immediately I noticed an issue when I entered the first "zone" for questing outside of the starter town Haven. OCD would be my enemy, not the demon's from the rift.

As soon as the map loaded I found my screen littered with yellow/gold diamond points of interest: things that I should investigate to get XP and Action Points to use at a later time. Ten hours passed and I was still running through fetch quests. The entire reason I visited The Hinterlands was left to the wayside. I needed to get everything else completed first. My mind would not allow me to continue until I had cleared the map of all of the diamond points.

Like with any RPG, as you progress across the maps in DA:I, new plot points and quests open up that are not initially visible to the player. You come across a new town, talk to the butcher, and find out he needs meat. Finish that quest, and another one opens up. Or as you're out killing rams for the butcher, you find Exclamation Points and Question Marks notating new quests that you've stumbled upon. It's an endless litany of things to do.

"Well, why didn't you do the main quest first and then go back and do the side-stuff?"

Years of gaming have honed my brain. More often then not, when you complete a main-story line plot, you're transported back to your home point. Or you go into a cut scene that teleports your party to another part of the world with no way to go back. Or that section of the map blows up and you can never return. It's best to get the side-quests done first before moving on, because you may not be able to go back.

And just to add to the annoyance factor, when you think you're done with a zone, they throw you back into it! The Hinterlands was completed. Every quest was done. I was happy to move on and kick up the Inquisition. Nope! Gotta send your ass right back there to stop the psychotic, red lyrium mages. And then you have to go back again to help Dorian, a fairly new companion, with his quests. Followed by Cassandra, who has been with you since step one of the game, finally decides she needs help too. Argh! Game! Stop it! I'm done with the area. Quit sending me back there. I want it to stay "complete."

Damn you OCD! You are making me dislike DA:I for illogical reasons.

And for those wondering, OCD is not something you can turn off. You can't stop my brain or my body from turning that gas cap 6 times. Just like you can't tell someone to stop flicking the light switch 20 times, or to stop washing their hands every hour. It's part of our tics. We know they're not logical, but it doesn't deter us from fulfilling the action. Because if we don't, we spend the entire day worrying about what has or will happen if we don't complete the task.

RPG's are a favorite of mine, and typically once you're done with an area that's it. You move on. There are no new quests that appear later. You can happily continue forward with your journey. This is why I'm a fan of the Diablo series, and why I can sit through 100 hours of Final Fantasy. Going back to an area is rare, and it's usually done for the insane quests like breeding a Golden Chocobo. DA:I is one of those games that has affected me this way; the first in quite some time. I don't know if I'll be able to truly complete this game, and it perturbs me. I'll try my best to overcome this irrational concern, but no promises.

Video games can be an evil mistress when your brain is wired to think and react differently to situations then what is considered "of the norm."

Full review to come soon. Once I'm out of The Hinterlands.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

In The Year 2014...

Stuff happened. I'm ending the year with 268 blog entries posted and looking forward to 2015. The past year was crap. Literal and physical. I've been through a lot of medical ups and downs that has started to level out. I've experienced death in my family, loss of funds, and the endless struggle that millions of American's are facing with looking for work. But there has been good news as well: engagements, marriages, good friends, new beginnings, and console wars.

As is tradition here at The Geek Spot, we must review the events of 2014. Let's see what was popular on the blog!

Top Searched Terms: thegeeknyou, is bayonetta sexist, bayonetta feminism, violent video games.

Porn has been knocked off the list! For 2 years Porn has been number 1in the search terms, but it was knocked out of the top 10 this time around. Instead you all are focusing your searches on violent video games and Bayonetta. I'm okay with this. :) Droopy Dog is #6 on the list. I don't know why...

Referral Sites: All of the Googles everywhere are pinging back here, which is a good thing. And VampireStat is still in the list. But mostly it's Google. Lots, and lots of Google.

What Browser: There are no surprises here. Browser usage is mirroring world-wide stats with Chrome being number 1, followed by Internet Explorer, Firefox, and then Safari. At least 80% of views are from a Windows OS computer. 7% are Mac, 5% are Linux, and the rest are on mobile platforms such as Android and iPhone. BTW this blog is optimized for mobile so feel free to browse during your lunch breaks.

Where Are You Reading: In an unexpected twist that is still baffling me, Ukraine has topped the views for 2014, followed by the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Australia, and Canada is back in the top 10. I'm surprised to see such a strong European presence. As I look down the list, virtually every country is listed in Europe before it hits to Asia and South America. Welcome Europeans! Glad I keep you entertained.

And last on the list, Most Read Posts Overall:

The Feminist Stance on Bayonetta - Still a popular one, and being featured in a college essay probably helped pushed the clicking. 7598 views.
Minecraft Helping The World - 4385 views.
Overturning Stereotype For Women Gamers - 4100 views.
Gay Fish Kanye West and Sexist Gaming - 3331 views.
The Game Awards...With Lasers! - 2850 views. I can't believe that many people have read the review...still better then the VGA's. VGX*** Sorry. Correction.