It could be a new age for Windows Phone in Canada. For years the global third-place smartphone OS was actually fourth place in Canada thanks to surprising residual strength for homegrown option BlackBerry. BB may be on the ropes everywhere else, but it still had some resonance here. Windows Phone was further hampered by Nokia’s Lumia phones not getting broad release here, often signing carrier specific deals (and often with Rogers). When Windows Phones got broad carrier release, they sold better (look at the Samsung Ativ S, a minor player globally, but a major player in the Windows Phone scene in Canada due to being released on all of the “big three” carriers).

Even if you were willing to pay full price for a device, Nokia wouldn’t sell it to you even if none of the carriers jumped on board. Want the Lumia 1520 phablet? Import it from the U.S. (for a version that will work on some Canadian carriers) or from Mexico (for the version that would work on all Canadian carriers). And expect to pay a huge markup.

Things have changed. Microsoft is now Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I tried

Posted: 2014/11/20 in Indie Games

After about four years of daily blogging, I reached my limit. The busy season hit at work, and it was game over for me keeping up a daily pace. However, you can’t keep a good blog down. Going forward, I’m going to start posting about things that interest me. Video games, cell phones, cycling, TV/movies, you name it. It’ll be eclectic, and it’ll be at times sporadic, but it will continue.

The recent Microsoft layoffs, 18K in all and the largest in company history, has got a lot of media attention. I often wonder about the value of something like this. It may fatten up the bottom line, but will it do so enough to justify the bad press? In any big organisation there’s a lot of turnover, and you can eliminate a lot of positions just through a hiring freeze as people retire and move on to other jobs.

And yet, you have to put them in perspective. Sony (for example) has laid off thousands of people several times in dribs and drabs, is that any better or worse than one big layoff? And Nokia had laid off thousands, and likely would have continued to if they hadn’t been purchased by Microsoft. And a lot of the layoffs are on the non-smartphone side of the business, where they’re going to continue offering devices but don’t need so many people to do so much future development.

The part that bewilders me is the Read the rest of this entry »

One of the things that excited me about the Xbox One was its ability to control your television and cable box. At launch, in Canada, it could only control your TV, but they did relatively promptly roll out the ability to control your cable box as well. I know that it’s not as relevant in some countries, such as the UK where cable boxes are rare (aside from Sky TV customers), but I’m in Canada where cable TV penetration has long been extremely high due to our rugged country, and massive distances between towns, making terrestrial broadcasts very difficult.

I’ve now tried it extensively. Am I still excited? Well, yes and no. I do like that Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft’s done something interesting with July’s free “Games With Gold” offering. They held over “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” for a second month, and added “Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition”.

If you have an Xbox 360, and are considering these games, then suddenly an Xbox One just got about $30 cheaper for you. Guacamelee! STCE was free for Xbox One owners day-and-date with its release, meaning anyone considering this game for the 360 won’t have it yet (though there may be some PS3 owners who had the earlier iteration of it).

This is an interesting strategy because you get to keep these games as long as you maintain your Gold status. Even if your Gold status lapses, but you later renew it, then you regain access to all Xbox One games you got via Games With Gold. This is in stark contrast to Read the rest of this entry »

Keen-eyed viewers will notice that I haven’t exactly been posting up a storm, lately. In real life I have a business to run, and this is our busy season and it’s really time I focus on that (and family, and chores, and all the other non-optional elements of life). That said, I read an article on Kotaku that inspired me to comment. Actually, it was the comments to the article that inspired me the most.

The article was Video Games Didn’t Make Me Gay, But They Did Make Me Proud, which I found to be an insightful read in and of itself, but it was this comment that really got me thinking:

You mean unprotected? I’m surprised there aren’t more safe-sex initiatives in games, now that you mention it. Seems like the sort of thing that social and mobile games would be particularly good at.

There’s more than just sexual pursuits where this happens, though. In how many movies or video games do you see Read the rest of this entry »

Ever seen “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray? This is like that, but with power armour. It reminds me a bit of what “Starship Troopers” ought to have been, as the book that movie was based on featured power armour even if it was conspicuous by its absence from the film.

The movie isn’t lighting up the charts, and that’s a shame because it’s surprisingly good. Love Tom Cruise? Lots of him here. Hate Tom Cruise? You’ll get to see him die tonnes of times. Like hard-hitting action? Check. Like smart storytelling? Check. It’s Read the rest of this entry »

The original STRACO, “STRACO Episode 1″ to be specific, was an interesting mash-up between action shooting and tower defence. It was much improved after a 2.0 update was released for it (that, thanks to plumbing the indie channel for hidden gems, I got right off the bat).

It’s finally got a well deserved sequel, and one that compromises the promised volumes 2 and 3 of a trilogy, all in a single $1 release: “STRACO : Purge and Conquest”.

From v1.0, to 2.0, to a two-part sequel, the STRACO games have done nothing but get better. Haven’t tried the dual-stick shooting/strategy hybrid original? Go download it now. Liked the original? Go give this developer another dollar. As action/strategy hybrids go, it doesn’t get much better.

Here’s what the publisher (Not Very Original) has to say about the game:

“Both STRACO Episode 2 and 3 in one package! Fight the evil Filth plague and defeat Boss Noss! 2 hour single player campaign — Mini-games — P2P high scores — And other such nonsense!!!! Be the hero that your mother always wanted you to be!”

Not directly game related, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the film “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.

Firstly, game players may find a familiar theme in [spoilers ahead!] Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re like me, and you like dry/dark humour, then I strongly recommend you watch this video, and jump right to the 25:05 mark:

Read the rest of this entry »