Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Class Action Lawsuit Against Spore's DRM

Of course it was inevitable. Joystiq reports a class action lawsuit against EA because Spore installs SecuROM, which, the plaintiffs argue, violates consumer law.

"'[SecuROM is] secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations,' the complaint states."
Follow the link to Joystiq or this one for more details.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Freebie Fridays on Hiatus

I'm sorry to say that I've decided to suspend Freebie Fridays for awhile.

Most people come here for the regular content posts, not the freebies, so I've decided to not do them for now. I have a lot of hobbies and work going on lately, and there just isn't time for everything. If I do make some content for a game, I'll be sure to share it on a Friday in the future. Past content will of course continue to be available at the links on the right column of this page (where it says "Look for Old Freebies at These Sites").

So instead of a freebie, have a look at this adorable new video by Katy Perry for The Sims 2 - Hot N Cold.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Cute Spore Promo Vid

Title says it all.
Happy Monday!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Freebie Friday - The Sims 2 - Walls

Wallpaper Gingham Roses

This Friday, I have two cute wallpapers for your The Sims 2 game.

Both gingham and purple, and both were made with the Home Crafter, so they should be usable in any The Sims 2 game.

Get your gingham wallpapers by clicking here.

Have a great weekend and see you next week!

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Mod Author Hired by Blizzard

A mini game from PopCap called Bejeweled will be including in a patch next Thursday. Mod author Michael Fromwiller had created a version of Bejeweled for Warcraft as a mod players could use to pass the time waiting for raids or auctions. Then Blizzard hired him to make a more polished version.

"[Besharded] was cool and fun, but not very polished, so we reached out to the gamer in question and hired him to do an official version of Bejeweled for WoW," PopCap representative Garth Chouteau said in an e-mail to Wired.com.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spore PC Patch Released

Earlier today, Maxis released its first patch for Spore.
Patch notes can be found here and they include:

  • Improved the planets fogging, blooming and lighting
  • Fixed animation issues with tool handling, hand walking and some of the more oddly shaped creatures
  • Added 70 new planet scripts with a low terraform score, especially of the "hot and high atmosphere" type
  • Creature phase: Improved the pacing towards the end of the game, and increased the challenge in Normal and Hard modes.
  • Tribe phase: Increased the challenge in Normal and Hard difficulty modes.
  • Civilization phase: Increased the challenge in Normal and Hard difficulty modes.
  • Creature phase: Improved the way posse members behave during threatening situations and fights.
  • Fixed problems with the "Rolling Thunder" and "Déjà Vu" achievements not being awarded as they should.
  • Fixed an issue where the terraforming score of planet could differ when revisiting a solar system
  • Fixed some issues where the game would freeze when using the Creature Tweaker tool or when capturing a planet in solar view
Check the patch notes to see all changes.

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EA Gives Spore Players Multiple Accounts

Looks like EA is trying to play nice. At least a little. MaxisLucy posted late last night (or early today?) that EA will be giving users the ability to have up to 5 screen names associated with their account.

"We are going to add the ability to have multiple Spore Screen Names for any one Spore Online Account. Here’s how this will work: for each copy of Spore that you have purchased, you will be able to have one Spore Online Account, just as it is now. However, we will be adding the ability to have five Spore Screen Names for that account. When you launch Spore, you will be able to log in with any of those Screen Names."

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spore Pirated to Avoid DRM

Daily Tech has an article up about consumers getting around the DRM by using pirated copies of Spore. It outlines how EA--in true corporate fashion--continues to point out the "good" points of its DRM while simultaneously misunderstanding what is making consumers angry:

"Electronic Arts appear to miss the point as the backlash is occurring over the fact there is any limit at all and not the number of PCs you are limited to."
They also include an interesting statistic:
"On Saturday, Torrentfreak wrote that the game had already been downloaded more than 500,000 times on BitTorrent sites."

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Will Wright on Spore's Low Ratings

Judhudson from Urban Online Entertainment interviewed Will Wright recently and asked questions about Spore's poor ratings, Spornography, Q&A, and other things.

The interview itself can be found here. (See "Interview (englisch) mit Will Wright" on the right.)

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Spore Secret Achievements

On the Spore Official Forums there is a thread about the discovery of secret achievements, which are achievements marked only by a ? in your achievements log. The ones discovered are:

  • Can't Win for Losing: Die once in every stage of Spore
  • General Custer: Lead 30 posse members to their deaths
  • Slugger: Finish the creature stage without legs
  • Cerburus: Evolve a creature with 3 heads
  • Medic: Heal one tribe member back to full health 5 times in a single game
  • Fear of Flying: Finish Civ Stage without buying an aircraft
  • Conclusion: Finish Civ Stage by launcing ICBMS at all remaining cities
  • Oh the Humanity: Destroy Earth
Two are missing. Know of any more?

Update 19 Sept 08:
  • Bad Baby! Have one of your assets banned

Update 26 Sept 08:
  • Pathological Cheater: Get 50 Joker badges.

And that completes the list!

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Black Bear Mount from Blizzard

WoW Insider tells us that Blizzard has added a black bear mount and a new title which you can get via their new achievement system.

"...[P]layers who complete the Achievements For The Horde! and For The Alliance! will be rewarded a Black War Bear. Players who manage to reach the respectable 100,000 Honorable Kill plateau will unlock the 'of the Horde' and 'of the Alliance' titles."

Follow the links to check out the full article.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Freebie Friday - The Sims 2 - Counter

What a busy week! I've got a simple but handsome counter for your The Sims 2 game this week.
Maple & Steel Counter for The Sims 2
Its base is the Krampft Industries Value Counter, so look for that one.

You need the CEP Color Enable Package as usual to make this work in your game. Other than that, it should work in any The Sims 2 game.

Download the Maple Counter with Stainless Steel Countertop here.
Hope you have a great weekend!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spore Stinks? Or Just its DRM?

Evolving the Beanie Elephants
Helping Beanie Elephants to Evolve (Click on pics for larger)

If you're a regular reader, you probably noticed that I took a small--unusual, for me--hiatus the last few days (usually, I post daily even though I promise to post only 3-5 times a week. That's because I never expect to have much to write about, but then I do. That's life). Well, I've been playing Spore. And really enjoying it. But I've also been reading forums and browsing through the "Spore protests"--like the almost 2,000 1 star comments on Amazon.com--and wondering to myself what exactly I should say about this game. I also didn't want to write a book about this subject. But I wanted to address it, because problems need to be brought out into the open.

Like everyone, I want games to deliver what they promise. I want fun with little hassle. Same as the 2,000 Amazon protesters. I've written about SecuROM and Spore before. Yes, EA will be including it in all their products, apparently, whether the box lets you in on it or not. Does EA's DRM (Digital Rights Management) software stop piracy? Not in the case of Spore. It was cracked almost immediately upon release in Australia. There are most likely bureaucratic, political, and economic reasons for this DRM to remain in place which the consumer will never know about without serious investigation (beyond the scope of most of us), leaving her with few choices. It's not like you can get another Spore from another manufacturer like you can underwear. Either you buy Spore or you don't. Will it matter?

Spore Lush Planet
Lush Paradise

Probably not. Realistically, there's over a million people registered with the Spore site, and 12 million creations uploaded proves that someone's playing Spore. 2,000 isn't even 1% of a million. You can probably see where I'm going with this. Do I think people should continue to protest? Of course! EA did listen to the Mass Effect protesters, although some think that perhaps that might have been a bit of a set up--that EA just wanted to see what consumers would swallow. There's no way to know.

Spore Angry Planet 2
Hot World

What about the game itself? Is it fun? Yes...but. For a game made for ten year olds (as the box states), yes, it's fun. Is it the unlimited sandbox that some people feel it was designed to be? Kind of. The editors are amazing, and everything is editable (...that isn't a plant--because only God can make a tree. Okay, that was a terrible and very old joke. I'm sorry). But many interactions and events are scripted, not spontaneously generated by what you do in the game. It's not Fable, which I think was the impression left by the what-you-do-affects-what-you-become mantra that Maxis had been dishing out in large quantities. In fact, you can undo just about any evolutionary path you have taken just by selling all your body parts and slapping on new ones with no penalty. However, I did find myself getting frustrated because I wanted to be an omnivore trader and got saddled with herbivore because my spore was a few floating pieces of hamburger shy, but that petty problem was fixed with a reroll.

Religious Victory in Civ
Bending Them to My Will

Okay, so the odd choices are permanent, but most everything can be changed at whim. Vehicles are designed as you choose, with percentage-based enhancements. If you want a war ship, you balance speed, military power, and health based on the parts you choose. Easy. Yes, little missiles do fire and ray guns shoot. Beams based on the vehicle's power (religious, military, or economic) shower the target to let you know what it's doing. I actually like the RTS (real time strategy) in the civilization stage of the game. It's a weak version of Sid Meier's Civilization 4 which is one of my all-time favorites. What's not to like?

Space Lobster on the Menu
Space Ships Can Be Anything - Even Lobsters

Is the game beautiful? Yes. The planets and views of space are breathtaking. Voice acting? Top notch. Music? Wonderfully sci-fi. You can choose the theme of your people, and it greets you when you see them.

Epic Creature
A Creature as Big (And as Strong) as My Ship

There are some annoyances, though, floating around the message boards, and some of them are big:

  • No auto save.
  • Bugs ranging from "This mission doesn't start for me" to "Game crashes to desktop".
  • Too hard. Everyone keeps attacking me when I start space phase.
  • Too easy. I can bribe/kill/plunder everyone. There is no challenge.
  • Modding looks like it will be difficult.
Myself, I've encountered the game crashing one that happens in the space stage (after leaving a planet) which I hope they fix. It was game-stopping for me, and I decided to create a new race to bide my time and so far, with the new race, space has been fine. At first I thought the "too hard" and "too easy" issues were based on user perspective, but I read a few posts that some missions have been buggy for some players. It's possible that the difficulty problems are not user related, but I have no way to tell.

Do I recommend this game? I would definitely say that if you are the finicky sort, try this game out first before you buy. If you are a hardcore gamer and want a game that pounds you as hard as you pound it, try before buy. But if you like to make space ship models, or creatures, or want to try out basic RTS, or just like the idea of zipping around space crafting planets, this is probably your game. Personally, I love it. Sure, it could be improved, and those improvements could be awesome, but I'm having tons of fun just as it is.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spore Prima Guide Free Sample

Got a tip off that there is a Spore Prima Guide free sample which teaches you about the cell stage of the creature creator in Spore. If you're in North America and a Spore fan, you're probably looking forward to tomorrow as much as I am. Enjoy your Sunday...with Spore!

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Freebie Friday - The Sims 2 - T Shirts

Red & Blu Team T's
Been playing lots of Team Fortress 2 while waiting for Spore, so I decided to make a couple TF2 Ts for my sims. These Ts should work in any The Sims 2 game. No matter which side you choose, it's the best above all else.
Download Red & Blu Team Ts here.
Have a safe and fun weekend!

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Video - Epic Creature Battle

Two epicized creatures battle it out in Spore. (Not my vid.)

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Polar Bear Mount for DIRECTV Viewers

Kotaku says you can get the polar bear mount by viewing Blizzcon on DIRECTV October 9th and 10th. It's a long post, but the meat of it is order the DIRECTV BlizzCon 2008 pay-per-view event and get polar bear mount. Visit www.blizzcon.com or call 1-800-728-9375 for details.

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Girl Gamer Article Drives Me to Drink

Any regular readers know that I don't rant in this blog. Yeah, there are things that annoy me, but I usually keep them to myself. So I sincerely apologize for this post. But there's been a slew of really insulting articles lately about women and games--with the worst comments coming from women--that make me feel like the world is rotating backwards or something and we're in the Victorian era again. The article, called "How to Get Your Girlfriend Into Gaming," is a great example. It talks about a panel held at the recent PAX show. Here are some gems for lulz:

"His girlfriend played “Halo” for five minutes and got dizzy."
Really? I mean, seriously? I find it incredible that any person who drives a car or rides a subway on a regular basis would get motion sickness from a game. Maybe she never leaves the house? Maybe she goes everywhere on foot because she's Amish? If she's Amish, why would she be playing a video game? Yes, I'm being lowbrow and picking on the Amish. They'll never read this blog. Trust me.
“Chicks like flattery. If she feels like she’s helping, then you’re making it a positive experience.”
The fact that this was said by a woman makes me want to throw up. Anyone who plays a game & helps their team is "helping." Here's a secret: This is why most men play team games. To help their team and feel like they're helping.
“When I do have free time, I don’t want to be blowing things up,” she said.
Are you sure? Because blowing things up is awesome.

The thing that bothers me about these articles is not that they talk about people who are bad at games. I'm certainly not super awesome at every game, not even most games--heck, not even one game. I don't personally know anyone who is super awesome in any game. But what bothers me is that the women are treated as if they're not even human; as if their outlook on life is twisted into some lollipop land where dirt is icky and thinking is dumb. Every time I read these articles I feel like they're talking about little girls--like 5 year old girls--not adult women. I mean, I like cute things, too. I love kittens and sunshine. I also like to blow things up. Is that wrong?

How do you feel about it?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Maxis Makes New Spore Site

...that no one can see. Spore.com hasn't been available to me all day as millions of fans worldwide struggle to peek at the new site's features. I'd like to make a real post about it but I guess it's Team Fortress 2 for me for the next few days until Maxis can figure out how to deal with multitudes of gamers. I have read on the Spore forums, though, that the new site has buddy lists, sporecasts, new buildings and vehicles, and creatures from the cell phase. Just a guess, but maybe the fact that some stores sold it early forced them to set up the site sooner than planned? We may never know.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Will Wright at HMV Oxford Street Tomorrow

Spores Illustrated reminds us that Will Wright will make an appearance tomorrow just after noon at HMV Oxford Street, but only 200 fans are allowed to attend. Follow this link for more details.

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Australia and Netherlands First to Get Spore

If you live in Australia or the Netherlands, according to several internet sources, you might be able to score a copy of Spore. It seems Spore has been released already for them, so go out and get your copy!

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Celebrities Make Spore Creatures

Urban Online Entertainment got wind that the celebrity-made creature site SporeVote.com is up and running. Of the list, I only recognize Tay Zonday and Will Wright, but maybe you know some of the others. Take a look if you like.

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