Valiant Hearts: a hit with kids & dogs

Gamer Dude’s playing Valiant Hearts — released today on XboxLive and there’s a valiant dog protagonist that’s caught our dog Astrid’s attention. She’s watching the screen wagging her tail and offering her computer game dog friend the lacrosse ball she pinched from the ball bag! LOL

Valiant Hearts was released today for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Steam.  Powered by the same engine as Rayman Origins the game was developed by Ubisoft Montpellier. I’m already a fan. The game art, storyline and musical score is compelling and has a arty feel to it. It’s not an epic war game, but this game has plenty of heart. From the looks of things, the puzzles are satisfying too.

According to Hayden Dingman from,

Far from a detriment, the silent-film nature of Valiant Hearts is one of its greatest strengths. The game is able to support a multicultural cast—French, German, American, Canadian—without any one culture dominating. And still, these are some of the best characters I’ve played in recent memory, thanks to some strong archetyping and brilliant animated cutscenes.

You also fall in with a trained war dog early in the game, and it’s this dog that most of the game revolves around. The story is the primary draw here, but play revolves around solving a cadre of puzzles more than actual combat.

I’m literally watching Dude play as I write. I’ll update later after the game’s done!



Xbox creating drama series with UK Channel 4

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, Xbox Entertainment Studios, together with UK Channel 4, is co-producing an eight-episode series called Humans. The series will be available for viewing on US Xbox platform and Channel 4 in the UK in 2015. News about the hour-long series was announced earlier today, by StreamDaily‘s @melitakuburas.





Xbox One or PS4? Choice is yours.

Not sure if you’ve heard the news about Xbox and Playstation — they’re soon unveiling their newest consoles: Xbox One and PS4 respectively. Microsoft is currently taking preorders for Xbox One and Playstation is taking preorders for its PS4. At my house the debate about which one GamerDude will choose to spend his dough-re-mi on is anyone’s guess.

Today we found this fantastic music video from Machinima which provides some insight  into the gamer’s console choice dilemma:

*note, it gets a little sweary at the very end of the video. The swears are bleeped (for comic effect), so if that kind of thing bothers you, skip the end (or the video — your choice).

Trolling for Good?

I was on YouTube the other day doing some research for MOMmentary and I stumbled on video blogger, MinnesotaBurns’ video, COD4 Hacker Rehab (below). MinnesotaBurns aka Trollarch CEO, Burnsy, and John Trollsten, started his channel January 2011 with the intent of trolling gamers (usually kids) who’ve hacked games (usually Call of Duty 4 and World at War). He calls the game hackers out, records the conversation, and, as in the video below, attempts to turn cheaters into good sports.

Not all of MinnesotaBurns’ videos are SFW (or family friendly) though. GamerDude and I watched/listened to the video featured above and I was surprised at the level of support my boy had for MinnesotaBurns’ methods. Game Hacking is apparently a common and reviled activity. Among gamers and gaming platforms alike, hacking is an absolute no-no. According to XboxLive:

“We’ve designed the Xbox LIVE service to help create a place where our members can interact and have fun online. To help protect that experience for our customers, the Xbox LIVE Enforcement team monitors the service for behavior that violates the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct. Violations of the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and the Code of Conduct can result in a variety of actions, up to and including a permanent suspension of a console from connecting to Xbox LIVE.”

I’m interested to see how well a Trollarch staff-assisted rehab goes. MinnesotaBurns is compelling because he’s part tongue in cheek, part irreverent, and part big brother to the kids he calls out on his YouTube channel. It’s clear he’s passionate about gaming as well as the gaming community, and his efforts to maintain the integrity of these online games seem legitimate (though his methods are sometimes questionable — see Mom & Granny Rage video by Trollarch Director, TrollMunchies).

I know some may view Trollarch activities to be a form of online bullying, and maybe it is. I asked GamerDude what he thought and he said he didn’t believe it was. I’m inclined to agree, but I’ll admit I haven’t even come close to completing a thorough review of all of the MinnestoaBurns and Trollarch videos.

What are your thoughts folks?

Prepare for Retail-Ready Minecraft

MINECRAFT: If your gamer is under the age of 16, the chances are excellent you’ve heard of this incredibly popular E10+ digital download for PC and Xbox (PlayXBLA).  This week, PlayXBLA announced they`ll be unleashing Minecraft on parents disc for Xbox users who aren’t connected to the game through XboxLive.  Ready yourselves to see Minecraft on disc hit the US retail market next month — April 30.

According to IGN the disc version of the game will have the same features and content found in the current digital version and players using both game formats will be able to join each other in multiplayer mode. As well,  retail Minecraft will include the highly anticipated additions from the ninth update.

So what IS Minecraft anyway?

Let me start by telling you what it isn’t: it’s not a campaign and there’s no narrative guiding the action, per se (although the final goal of the game is to fight and slay the Enderdragon). I’ve heard it referred to as a sandbox game, meaning the player has tools to modify the world they’re playing in, and to create how they play in it. The overarching goal of Minecraft is to build whatever captures the imagination from the highly stylized and pixelated Minecraft world.

Your child will choose between Creative play mode and Survival play mode. Both play modes experience day and night play, but in Creative mode the player is invincible and in Survival mode, you guessed it — players are required to survive attacks from creepers, enders, spiders and other monsters that reproduce in dark crannies and spaces of the game.

During the day in Survival mode, players will be conscious of feeding themselves and maintaining a level of health that is above 30%.  There are animals that drop meat throughout the game and players need to pick this food up when they find it, but they’ll also need to pace themselves because animals don’t frequent the Minecraft terrain! Also, GamerBoy emphasizes the importance of sheep for their wool — you can make a bed of their wool and sleep safely through the night (this is the only time I’ve ever heard him talk about the importance of sleep to his quality of life).

At the start of the day, players need to build well-lit structures and weapons with the resources they find through their explorations. Weapons are helpful in defeating and fending off monster attacks. But both modes have players searching for and accumulating resources.

As the game’s name suggests, crafting is central to Minecraft. Players will be able to craft some items from the inventory provided to them at the start of the game, but a craft table is necessary for the heavy-duty crafting that intense Minecraft play demands. GamerBoy tells me that the bread and butter of the game as far as resources are concerned are stone and coal. You’ll use these resources to craft your first, most important tool — the iconic Minecraft pickaxe. Once a player has this tool they can go on to mine cobblestone, which can be used for even stronger tools!

Minecraft play is chock-full with details of mining and creating and I’ve really only scratched the surface here. One of the best (and most entertaining!) tutorials I’ve seen on Youtube — and there are LOTS — is Conan O’Brien`s Clueless Gamer review. Also, Conan appears to have and advance copy of the retail disc Minecraft in this video!  *Edit: GamerBoy drew my attention to Conan’s LIVE version, so, like, no advanced copy. Still — Enjoy: