When I was younger, I attended more than a few rock concerts. I loved them. Especially the long, all day, 20+ band affairs. You name it, pretty much every rock band of the 90′s I’ve seen. So now here I am, in my early 30′s, an adult, an avid gamer, and, well… let’s just say I didn’t escape some permanent damage from all those concerts. My wife just asked me if I could bring up her smartphone, but I clearly heard her say “Can you bedazzle my trombone”. Yeah…
Also, in any given social situation, if the level of ambient noise reaches a certain volume, I completely lose the ability to hear someone even a foot away from me. Combine this with my inability to read lips, and I might as well have stayed at home. I haven’t lost all of my hearing, but it’s definitely not as sharp as it could be. That’s why, being a gamer, a fan of live music, and having some hearing damage, this new Kickstarter I came across really looked like something I’d be into.
It’s called Woojer, and it looks like it’s going to be a necessary addition to my gaming habit. Woojer is essentially a “woofer” you attach to your clothing and headphones that allows you to physically “feel” sound. It has, at it’s core, a proprietary polyphonic transducer that “plays” these low frequencies. When you hear the audible sounds from your games, and then feel the corresponding vibrations from Woojer, your brain picks up the slack. Using Perceptual Inference, the ability for your brain to essentially make up what is not there but what it thinks should be there, it translates the two stimuli as one. So when you listen to music, it feels as though you are at the concert. When playing a game, that helicopter will feel like it really just passed over you.
The principle of operation is perceptual inference, or auto completion. The product simulates the sensation of live music or a very strong sound system. Using a Woojer on a single point on your body is enough to convince the brain that the entire body is receiving sound…
Placing Woojers on your body makes the sensation even more immersive. Imagine adding an augmented reality device such as Woojer which transforms any audio signal into silent, harmonic tactile sensations that resonate throughout the body to other existing immersive devices like the Oculus Rift VR headset.
I’m not a huge fan of putting on any extra headwear to experience more immersive gameplay. I already wear glasses, so adding an extra layer in front of them feels a little awkward. However, wearing a simple device that I can attach to my shirt? Done. I’ve already signed on as a backer, and since the Kickstarter has successfully funded, I hopefully WILL be receiving one of these fantastic devices next Spring.
The Kickstarter funding period will conclude very soon, in about four days, at 10:10 AM EST on Friday, December 6th. So if you want one, you better hop on it while discounts are still available.
This won’t obviously cure my already damaged hearing, but if what the site says is true, I may not have to keep my headphones turned up that loud, either. So more immersive gameplay, more intense music and movies, and not having to keep it at levels that could further damage my hearing? This sounds like a huge win all around.
I know, it sounds like a scam. Trust me, that’s exactly the way I thought of it, too. That is, however, until I started to receive tangible rewards.
The process is simple:
1) Sign up for Bing Rewards. – Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, that is simply not as popular as Google. The main difference between them, though, in my opinion, is negligible. Searches in Bing turn up decent results, image search is spot on, etc. The big difference is that Bing offers a reward program for using it’s service.
2) Earn points for daily searches. You can earn, on average, 16 points per day. There are days that they give out more points, too.
3) Redeem points for many different rewards, including a Rixty Universal Game Card. The $5 card, like many rewards, will take about 30 days to complete.
So, the catch is simply that you use Bing as a search engine, and it’s only $5 worth of earned rewards per month. That’s it. Max out the daily points stipend (easy to do if you use the recommended search function), and redeem them when you have enough.
Of course, you don’t have to JUST get the game card. There are many, many other offers. For example, I just redeemed all of my points for $20 worth of Amazon gift cards. Aside from Rixty and Amazon, you could redeem points for Starbucks, ProFlowers, RedBox, Skype, Groupon, Hulu, charities, or sweepstakes. I’ve primarily been using mine for Amazon, and have yet to try Rixty, but I may now that it’s offered.
The hardest part, I’m sure, will be switching from Google. But think: every time you do a Google search is points you could be earning using Bing. Or, heck, don’t switch at all. Just use Bing for the rewards, and still use Google. You really don’t have to 100% switch.
The games that Rixty supports is pretty extensive, too. Age of Conan, Age of Wushu, Aion, Allods, Champions, EvE Online, Kingdom of Loathing (which I just started playing), Lineage II, MapleStory, Neverwinter, Runes of Magic, Rusty Hearts, Spiral Knights, Star Trek Online, TERA, World of Tanks, and hundreds of others I’ve never heard of before.
So, yeah. $5 per month isn’t going to go a long way and isn’t going to be hugely worth it when you have to save up 5 months of points to buy a single starship, but it’s a trickle effect. Get into the habit of maxing out the searches when you first sign on (takes about 2 minutes), and eventually, the points will just be there.
And plus, it’s a much better alternative than sketchy surveys or credit card offers, and allows you to check out game shops without having to spend any real money.
P.S. – There is a Refer-A-Friend program, too, but that’s not why I’m telling all of you about this. The points earned through referral can be made in a few days. However, if you care to go through under my referral, please use this link.
I popped open Steam today and saw something unexpected; a number one surrounded in green next to the letter icon by the top of the screen. I wasn’t expecting anything, so I found this curious. Lo and behold, I had received a Space Pirates and Zombies Booster Pack! SPaZ is a surprisingly fun and deep indie space arcade shooter title I recently picked up from a Humble Bundle that has since ended. Quite a fun title.
So out of all the games in my collection, and out of all the titles I just received in the Bundle, why did I decide to try out SPaZ? Simply… the cards.
If it’s a mentality that Steam knows well, it’s that of the gamer. We collect, we hoard, we have long term digital goals and there isn’t much that will stop us from reaching said digital goals. One of the first questions asked of new MMOs is always “What is there to do at end-game?” A new title can be months or years away, and we have already planned out that we will play it to it’s completion and want something more to do when we reach it’s highest peaks.
If you haven’t heard of them by now, Steam Trading Cards are collectible cards acquired by playing participating games through Steam. You collect a full set of these cards, combine them together, and receive more cards, items to customize your Steam background, emoticons to chat with your friends, and possibly receive a coupon for another Steam game. So, essentially, a collecting game on top of a game. Just what we need, a meta-game, right? Well, even if you have no interest, but still use Steam, it definitely behooves you to join in the Trading Card circus.
So, okay, say you don’t care about backgrounds, hats, or other fluff. That’s cool. For you folks, there’s the Steam Community Market. Don’t like a card you have, sell it! Just like any MMO’s auction house, you can sell any card for a small profit. I do mean small, though, maybe about 10 – 20 cents per card. But they add up quick. Especially if you acquire randomly dropped booster packs just by logging in to Steam. $.40 here, $.20 there. With the funds, buy a small indie game that drops more cards, collect more cards, sell them, etc. No money needs to be invested to start on it, either, just sell them to other gamers. The more badges that are created, though, the more cards are handed out, to keep the card economy stable.
From my good buddy Windcaller. Play games to pay for other games. Simple and elegant. I like it.
Here’s where it’s a genius strategy and a Win-Win for everybody. We all know this and it’s the fact casinos use and was made famous in the movie Office Space: Small profits multiplied a million times over equals huge profits. This IGN article sums the math of Steam cards up nicely, so I’ll quote it here:
“…The company takes a 5% cut of every transaction, and a 10% cut goes back to the game publisher (encouraging widespread adoption of the trading card system). So those 115 booster packs sold yesterday? They made Valve $10 and 2K Games $20, as well as $175 for gamers directly. Of course, the “profit” gamers make goes back into each seller’s Steam wallet, ensuring Valve eventually gets a bigger payday.
$20 doesn’t sound like much, but individual Borderlands 2 cards and items are also for sale, to let people fill gaps in their collection. Around 2,000 were sold yesterday alone, for around $0.30 each. That’s another $40 for 2K and $20 for Valve. Around 225 ultra-rare “foil” Borderlands 2 cards were also sold yesterday, for around $1.85, generating $36 for 2K and $18 for Valve.
Suddenly, these numbers aren’t so small. Totaled up, Steam users selling Borderlands 2 digital goods generated $96 for 2K and $48 for Valve in a single day. That’s $35,040 a year for 2K and $17,520 for Valve. For one game. There are 144 (and counting) Steam games that support trading cards.”
See that? It’s not just Steam making the money off the sale of cards, it’s the developers of the games, too. Trading cards helps the companies who make these games, especially these great indie titles, even more money at practically zero effort on the part of the developers. In the above example, $35k might be chump change for 2K games, but that’s not chump change for someone like Team Meat, makers of Super Meat Boy. That’s a nice payday and extra appreciation for their work.
So, overall, Steam wins, the developers win, and gamers win. What’s not to like about that?
Have you ever taken a look at your Steam list of games and thought “Damn. By the time I get to playing all of these, we won’t even have computers anymore! We’ll be downloading games directly into our brain-chips!” I think this a lot. And yet, it doesn’t stop me from seeing that great 80% off deal and adding onto the list. There is some tricky psychology at work here, and I’m sure it’s pretty obvious, something like False Scarcity or The Sunk Cost Fallacy, but hell if I’m powerful enough to stop it.
To that end, I need to get to playing some of these eventually! And what better time than the present. But how do I go about it where I get the most out of the limited time I already have available?
Syp over at Bio Break has his gaming time scheduled down to the day. I like it, but then what happens if real life responsibilities or just other events cause you to miss a day? Do you then have a two week stretch in between sessions? Can you even make progress at that rate?
Nicole over at Mama Needs Mana takes a different turn with scheduling ahead of time, but still keeping it loose. This also has lots of merits, but sometimes I find it even harder to schedule even what I’m going to play tonight! If there are other people involved, I tend to back off as I know how flaky I can be.
And finally, the prolific Rowan at IHTTS tends to just play as long as a game holds his interest. This is how I normally roll as well, but at this rate, I’ll drown in my backlog. If I wait until I’m jonesing to play a game, it’ll never happen as something new and shinier will have surely come along.
So to recap so far, I want to play different games, not to have too long of a stretch in between game sessions, not schedule ahead of time (as I know myself pretty well), but still make some progress. Seems like a tall order.
Well, this may not be perfect (but what first attempts usually are), but based on all of this I’ve devised a system that I think will work:
1) To start, on the first day, play whatever game you like. Anything.
2) On your next play session, you can’t play any game you played the previous session, but you can play any other game.
3) Quick maintenance sessions, like a holiday daily ala Star Trek Online, or setting up graphic requirements after installation Do Not Count as a play session.
4) Enjoy as you start ticking games off your list.
So, as my above spreadsheet shows, I started off on the 29th with The Secret World, so on the 30th I couldn’t play TSW. So I played Bully instead. On the 31st, I could play TSW again, but decided to give Torchlight a shot, as its a quick easy game and I didn’t have a lot of time. On the 1st, I only couldn’t play Torchlight, but the next chapter in The Walking Dead was calling me. Friday and Saturday I didn’t have any time to play, although I did buy the last Skyrim expansion, Dragonborn, so on Sunday I played that.
The way I see it, it could roll that I then end up switching off on two separate games as I get hooked on them, but then I’ll be making headway in two games. If I’m really getting into a particular game and have the dopamine flowing nicely when I play it, it’ll only be a single day minimum in between when I can play it again, and during that time I can make progress in other games. I see this as a win-win.
Of course, the saying that keeps flashing through my head is “The best laid plans of mice and men / often go awry.” We’ll see if this works for me in the long run, but I think it’s a good start.
P.S. – Voting has concluded on what YOU think I should play, and at 20 votes, it ended up being a really tight race, but with a majority of 5 votes, Half-Life ended up the big winner! So, on my next play session, Half-Life it will be! Thank you to everyone who voted!! Ended up being a few more than the 3 votes I thought I would get.
Welcome to my summer gaming habits. I know, I know… I haven’t updated since May 12th. Bad Ocho, very bad Ocho. So sue me. I have this thing that happens during the summer where suddenly my want to sit behind my computer screen playing games suddenly falls off the table. Going for walks, grilling on my deck, visiting friends, impromptu bar runs, it all suddenly becomes a much greater priority than gaming. Hence why I shall always remain in the “casual” category of gamers. It’s not that I don’t love my hobby, it’s just that it’s still just a hobby and as such, takes that low position amongst my priorities. So, during the summer, I may not update as often as other times, and also sometimes I don’t feel like I’m adding a whole bunch to the conversation, so this leads to periods of inactivity. That is just my introverted, worrying, insecure side talking, though. And sometimes it’s right. However, I’m sure I’m not inconveniencing my legion of readers by taking periodic breaks.
But ANYWAY, I’m starting to see a trend among my fellow bloggers, a trend of… exploration. And I, being an intrepid explorer myself, am willing to leave the choice of which game in my collection I should play up to the fates (that would be you). Now, my collection is pretty big, what with Steam and GoG.com being sooo tempting at times, so below is a list of 5 games that I have never touched, or never really got that far in, that I would like to give a shot.
Some are MMO’s, some are not. Some are newer, some are older. My tastes are very eclectic. So, please, pick the game that you would most like to play vicariously, and I will try my best to live up to it. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below…
Would you look at that… a full year has passed, and Casual Aggro is still up and running. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are. Although I had a few warm-up posts, I claim the real starting date of this blog to be May 1st, 2012, when Syp of Massively and Bio Break started a movement to help new bloggers find their footing in this crazy interwebz.
So, Happy Anniversary to all my fellow NBI brethren! To which, I’m happy to say, there are many still around.
After taking a look at the full list of blogs posted back on May 30th, 2012, there were 111 new blogs formed during the initiative. I opened up every single one to take a look and see how many were still active (yes, I had 100+ tabs open in Chrome and my PC didn’t blink… this thing is a BEAST), and the results surprised me. One would expect a great number of these blogs to have slowed down or stopped updating entirely, and a great number did. However, a large number did not close up shop and are still updating today! In figuring these numbers, any blog that has updated anytime in the past month qualified as being “active”.
And, guess what? Out of the 111 starting blogs, 28are still active today, giving a retention rate of over 25%!! So, yeah, I’d call it a huge success!
So, out of the 28, I’d like to spotlight a few of them as blogs that you should add to your RSS feed immediately.
Spearheaded by the fantastic Ravanel Griffon, Ravalation is all about the adventures and misadventures of her time gaming in Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. She is also the most prolific blogger in the entire group of 111, and her words jump off the page with so much energy that you can’t help but be a fan! I know I am. If you check out one blog from the NBI 2012 group, make sure it’s this one.
If there’s a game-jumper who even out-jumps myself, it’s the MMO Juggler. Everything from Lord of the Rings Online, to Age of Wushu, to EVE Online, to Guild Wars 2, to The Secret World. You name it, he’s probably played it and has a comprehensive write-up about it. Now THAT’s dedication.
No, I didn’t just pick Kanter‘s blog because he based his latest blog post after something I wrote (which I’m very flattered about, by the way). I’ve been reading his blog for the past year, and I love the premise as it’s a universal one: Not enough time, but a love of gaming. Although most of his gaming time is spent in World of Warcraft these days, a game I’m not too terribly fond of, I still like to hear about his exploits from the perspective of an uber-busy gaming fan.
Forgive me Jason, but I did not start following you on Twitter until today. However, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while!
For those of you who aren’t Jason, yesterday’s rant on Candy Crush Saga, for example, is a must read. Seriously. Go check it out. Jason mixes his impressions of games with a humor that is spot-on and 100% relatable.
That’s a much easier list to swallow than the whole 111 that started.
So, again, I wanted to give a huge Thank You to Syp for starting the movement in the first place, and an even bigger Thank You to all of my friends, supporters, and readers who make me look forward to creating my future posts.
You all rock!
P.S. – I still can’t believe I lost the “Promising Star” Award by only 3 votes… to a blog that is not even active anymore! Ah well. So it goes…
So last Sunday I was all set up to write a post about crafting in The Secret World, how there is no real guide for it, and essentially make a guide for those not really knowing what to do with the random runes and dust they pick up. However, my Comcast internet would have none of it. Trying to play the game for research was an abysmal failure. Every mob I fought would straight-up slaughter me during a lag spike. My once strong download speeds without packet losses, lag, latency, or jitter, great for gaming and watching streaming video has, over the past week, degraded to the point that my primary hobby is fully out of commission.
Now, I’m relatively tech savvy. I built my own gaming rig, I know a thing or two about the multitude of OS options out there, and I’m asked frequently by friends, family, and strangers for tech advice. So, when I encounter network problems, I generally know how to approach them. After going through all the checks and rechecks, the problem is not my router, it is not my cable modem, nor is it my computer. The problem lies outside of the tech that I can affect, and now I must rely on Comcast to come and attempt to fix the problem, which could take weeks (or as a friend lovingly told me about dealing with Comcast, possibly months). Lovely.
Gaming wise, though, I have been stuck on The Secret World. Trying to play it now is utterly futile. Any MMO I would play is futile. Without a stable and reliable internet connection, there is no point in even trying.
But ANY game needing a full-time internet connection is out, for possibly weeks. With the current trend in gaming this would also means games like Diablo 3, SimCity, and if I had the next generation XBox, literally any game I would own for that console. These aren’t just MMOs, games where always being connected gives you the benefit of community, these are single-player games with unnecessary multi-player extras tacked on. But yet, if I owned them, I would now be completely unable to play them.
So, tell me, honestly, who hasn’t this happened to? Who hasn’t, at some point, lost usable service? Apparently, if you have Comcast as your service provider, which in my area Comcast is the ONLY choice for wired internet and holds a monopoly, service drops are frequent and the norm. Getting lines repaired could cost me more out-of-pocket expenses (on top of my monthly fee) and take weeks or months to fix. I’m sure it’s not just Comcast, though.
If there is any physical component, and hardware involved in your network, that hardware is capable of failing. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it, either. It’s not a question of how or why, but when.
So who is this shift in the always-on trend really supposed to be benefiting? With Microsoft telling us to just #DealWithIt, EA being named the worst company in America due to gamer backlash from it, and Blizzard straight-up not caring, it is certainly not the gamers. And yet, gamers will still throw money after money at these games and think nothing of it. Think nothing of the possibility of having their single-player games servers being shut off, or the possibility their hard-earned money is going to a purchase that can instantly become as useful as a paperweight (less, even, a paperweight can still hold down papers).
I hope companies like EA and Blizzard really are getting the message that this is not acceptable. We, as intelligent people making intelligent purchases, should not give them a single dime for any product that demands these always-on connections. We’re simply paying them for the privilege of giving them more power. Power that they, frankly, don’t deserve. Give us real reasons as to why an always-on connection is beneficial, or options to use it or not, put the power back into the consumers hands.
Until then, I’m voting with my wallet, as it seems the only language these companies understand.
Do you know of Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin? If you don’t, stop reading and go and listen to it now. That, my friend, is the first piece of music specifically made for a video game to ever win a Grammy, and although I don’t agree with the Grammy committee on some of their decisions, that is easily one of the most inspiring pieces of music out there. Well done, Grammy people.
As I’m sure Syp would agree with me, a good musical score is one of the big reasons you keep coming back to a particular game. Stones, a simple song from the Ultima series, for example, I find myself whistling from time to time. It’s stuck with me after all this time even though I haven’t played an Ultima game for years. Still, I want to periodically head back, possibly just to hear it again. It holds such emotion and such feeling, I can’t help but remember it fondly. Or even the music of The Shire in Lord of the Rings Online conveys a peace and serenity that’s perfectly matched to the zone, making it, in my opinion, one of the greatest zones in any game out there. It’s no coincidence that the background music plays a big part in that. And who could forget the strains when you first exit Ascalon City into Lakeside County in Guild Wars? It holds a sweet and yet somber fall melody, as if to gently foreshadow coming events. Awesome and amazing, all of them, I highly suggest a listen or two or ten.
… Then there’s the other side of the spectrum.
Some people don’t want and/or even like game soundtracks. They find them a waste of time, and the repetition bothers them to no end. I feel you there, too. Not all game soundtracks are winners. The music from the Barrens zone in vanilla World of Warcraft was terrible. Why did they have to include grunts when the music started? It was just an audio cue that reminded you “Oh yeah, you’ve been here long enough, it’s starting over again.” And with the size of the Barrens… you ended up hearing it a LOT.
That’s when you bring in your own music to play. Getting into PvP, for example, is always made a little more exciting when you blast some hard rock to go along with it.
To that end, I wanted to let all of you music lovers out there know of an event a good friend of mine is doing soon: This Thursday, September 13th from 7 to 10 pm, my good buddy Jersey Jim is hosting an online radio show ”Jersey Jim Makes a Scene”. Sticking with mostly the harder stuff, in his own words, you’ll find “Lots of good music and good times to come.” Great music to game to, definitely. Something to get the blood pumping. Here’s a link to his FB page, detailing the event, and here’s the site, GasHouseRadio.com, he’ll be broadcasting live from.
Seriously, do me a solid. Give him a listen and Like his page. If you like what you hear, let him know!
So which do you prefer? Your own or the games soundtrack? Got any of your own favorites? Let me know down in the comments!
What a long strange trip it’s been. No, really, this month has been absolutely incredible.
The Newbie Blogger Initiative was essentially a month of tried and tested blogs promoting and sponsoring new and just-off-the-boat blogs, like Casual Aggro, all in the name of community, goodwill, and mutual interest. To call it a success is an understatement. My little part of the blogging universe has seen incredible numbers that still leave me gobsmacked. And I really have Syp to thank for all of it.
Without his initial support you, an awesome person who has taken the time to come and read my ramblings, would probably not have stopped by. However, I am certainly glad you have and I hope that you enjoy what you are reading. If you are, drop me a line! If you don’t, drop me a line, too, and let me know where I could use improvement.
If you have enjoyed my random insights into gaming today, you might also enjoy any of these fine blogs as well. This list is very comprehensive, but if one of them catches your interest, please give it a look. The author, karma, and I thank you.