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  • Gamerscore at 10k, Blame Rock Band?

    Posted on January 18th, 2013 Shawn No comments

    Today, less than five years after creating my Xbox Live account, I surpassed the 10000 gamerscore mark. What game was I playing at the time? Well, I will have you know it was Rock Band Blitz. How fitting for a guy (and his blog) that had a major transition 4+ years ago when getting deeply addicted to Rock Band. (The blog had the major transition, not the guy).

    In today’s post, I look at rhythm games in general, Rock Band and Harmonix specifically, and my gamerscore. Let’s find out if Rock Band had a major contribution to my gamerscore 10k mark, or if something else got me here.

    Gamerscore as of January 18, 2013: 10010

    The first game I played with my gamertag, AppleTrak, was Rock Band on April 21, 2008.

    Rock Band – Gamerscore: 455
    Rock Band

    The game was released on November 20, 2007. Friends mentioned to me a game that players can play drums with and it got me interested. As a long-time drummer, and a former obsessive gamer, I decided to jump back into gaming. After five months of hearing about this game and playing it at Best Buy occasionally, I picked up an Xbox 360 and the Rock Band bundle.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Cyber Monday is on NOW!

    Posted on November 25th, 2012 Shawn No comments

    We’re scouring the depths of Amazon.com and beyond to locate the deals that will matter to you. And even better, the sales are already on. Check out what we have found, and check back later on for new deals we find.

    JUST ADDED!

    Use the code FIREDEAL for $129
    Sears.com has 32GB Asus Nexus 7 7″ Android 4.1 Tablet (ASUS-1B32) for $224.99 with free in-store pick up.


    Walmart.com
    has Plantronics Voyager PRO Bluetooth Headset (black) for $39 with free in-store pick up.
    Walmart.com has Dead Island: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360) for $10.

    Shop Amazon – Cyber Monday Deals WeekShop Amazon Home Entertainment – Black Friday Deals on TV, Video
    Shop Amazon – Trade In Wii

  • Nexus 7 — The Google Tablet

    Posted on November 7th, 2012 Shawn 1 comment


    I’ve been using the Nexus 7 (manufactured by ASUS, but marketed as Google) tablet for a couple months now. This is not my first or second foray into Android tablets, I’ve extensively used many for the past 1+ years. So, what do I think of the Nexus 7? Read on…

    Size: This 7″ tablet is just what the doctor ordered. I’ve used a bunch of the 10.1″ tablets before, and they are all just too awkward to hold. I love to read books on tablets (on planes, in bed, wherever), and the 7″ size is comfortable in one hand, while being large enough to feel like the size of a paperback. The width of the Nexus 7 is fine. Not too thick, not too thin. Just feels right.

    Weight: To carry on with the size comments, the Nexus 7 is the perfect weight for holding it for hours while reading a book. I happily put down the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Acer Iconia A500 for this lightweight and good sized device.

    Experience: It’s pure Android Jelly Bean. What does that mean? It is running the software as Google anticipated it to run. No extra skins, no unnecessary manufacturer apps, and the absolute latest version of Android. Jelly Bean (aka Android 4.1) is the best thing that has happened to Android tablets. Prior to this release (aka Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 and Honeycomb 3.0), all Android tablets ran slowly, the swiping had delays, the typing was gittery, and as a comparison to iPad, Android could not compete in the performance category. Now with Jelly Bean, the Nexus 7 is smooth, screens flow as you’d expect, navigating around works fluidly and comfortably. It is the first excellent experience on an Android tablet. If you like the way Ice Cream Sandwich works on your Android phone, you will feel right at home with Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7.

    Build: As mentioned before, this is manufactured by ASUS. It’s a black rectangular slab, as expected. The weight feels just right and well distributed. Not too heavy, not too light, not awkward to hold. Solid glass on the front, with no physical buttons. Has a front facing camera, which is low res and not impressive for any type of photo taking. The bezel on the front is just wide enough to hold on any four corners without accidentally touching the screen. The sides are rounded, with no sharp edges. The back is lightly rubberized and pleasantly sticks to the hand when holding, or stays in place when set down. There is no removable battery, so the back cover is permanent. There is no removable SD card either.

    On the right side, are the power and volume rocker buttons. Having them on one side is great for using cases and stands. On the bottom is the headphone jack and micro USB port (for charging/data transfer). The bottom is also a great location for cases and stands. The back contains a speaker on lower portion, which has decent sound for its size. And the screen. It’s a high-resolution screen, think iPhone 4 (and newer) or iPad 3 (and newer). Simply, it’s beautiful. No needs to talk technical details. It is the best looking Android tablet screen to date. Nice and clean, easy on the eyes.

    Things I don’t love about the build. No rear-facing camera. I’m not one of those weido’s who take photos with a tablet, but I do scan QR codes quite a bit. Most QR code apps do not support front-facing camera. Those that do support it, make me quickly realize how awkward it is to line up a QR code without being able to see it on screen. Not having removable SD card isn’t the end of the world, having the Nexus in 16GB. I just historically, like to take my SD card out of my phone and pop it into my tablet at different times.

    Overall, I’m quite happy with the build on the Nexus 7.

    Apps: As a Google device, you get all the Google Apps you can shake a stick at, right on the home screen. If you love Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, Google+, and on and on, you will have them ready to go right out of the box. As for Google Play (Android Market) apps and Amazon Android App Store apps, most apps run, but not all. Apps requiring a rear camera, will not install. At launch, few other apps wouldn’t install, but all seem to be working now (with an update to Android 4.1.2). Being a Google branded device, there are no manufacturer or carrier specific apps; translated — no crap apps. You can add all the crap on if you’d like, but it’s your choice.

    Price: Starting at $199 for 16GB (just reduced from $249). Just added are two 32GB models, with and without a cellular plan, priced at $249 and $299 respectively. The price can’t be beat, be it iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, or other Android tablets.

    Wrap It Up: As a long time Android user, and having used several Android tablets before, I have to say the Nexus 7 leaves all others in the dust. Sure the screen size is 3 inches smaller than the big boys, but the size, weight, and screen make this THE Android tablet to get. If you have an Android phone and would like a tablet to run your apps on, get the Nexus 7. Don’t waste time looking elsewhere.

     

  • ‘Cuz you know Y-A-U-C-H

    Posted on October 22nd, 2012 Shawn No comments

    EDITORIAL NOTE: I started drafting up this article on May 8, 2012 and had a difficult time time with it. I shelved it, and decided today to put a little more into it. Only 1/3 of the story has been told so far. I will come back to do the rest, but didn’t want this to continue to sit in draft any longer. RIP Adam.

    I honestly had no idea how much Adam Yauch meant to me, until Friday May 4, 2012 around 4:00 PM. My thoughts and memories may have similarities to other Beastie Boys fans, but the way Adam’s death is affecting me, seems a little different. Let me tell my tale of the legacy of Adam Yauch, MCA.

    1986, I’m a twelve year old, only child in a single parent home. Moved around a lot, and just moved back to my hometown after a few years in other places with my mom. No matter where I went, I always had a boombox in hand, with a double-cassette player. I was known to listen to lots of rock, some pop, and rap was making a showing. Motley Crue, Van Halen, Ray Parker Jr., Prince, Duran Duran, of course Michael Jackson, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys, Doug E. Fresh. Music was a giant part of my youth. I was always at the local Strawberries Records & Tapes store spending my allowance and paper route money on the newest sounds to catch my ears. One of the toughest choices for me was whether to buy records or tapes. I loved both for so many reasons. Records, I could play songs I wanted to hear without having to fast forward, plus I could practice my emerging scratching technique on my mothers Quasar turntable. Tapes, on the other hand, could pop into my boom box and be with me on the go.

    Kids I hung around with were also big music fans. It was common that much of our playing time involved listening to music, or trying to impersonate it. Learning all the lyrics to Run-DMC’s King of Rock, Kurtis Blow’s Basketball, or impersonating The Human Beat Box from Fat Boys were typical things we did as kids.

    I don’t actually remember when or how I acquired Licensed To Ill, but I do recall it was the tape. The beats, the humor, the three distinct voices. The samples from rock songs that I sort of recognized from rock radio, later realizing I was hearing Led Zeppelin and old TV show samples. Licensed To Ill hit just about all the right notes for me. There was hard rock with Fight For Your Right and No Sleep Til Brooklyn. There were some cool DJ techniques with Time To Get Ill. The lyric dynamics from MCA, Mike D, and King Ad Rock, their very different voices, the humor in their lyrics, and the way they could slice a song up between them. Licensed To Ill became a huge part of my music listening time from 1986 on.

    1989, still living in my hometown, but have now moved just down the street with my mom and my new step-father. I spent much of that summer on the other coast, visiting family. Paul’s Boutique was released. Again, I opted for the tape, since I had no record player with me on vacation. The cover folded out in a panoramic view of New York streets, with Paul’s Boutique, the clothing store, displayed in one of the panels. The actual cassette was the color of a red fire truck, with a black label prominently showing the Beastie Boys Records label.

    Immediately upon listening to it, and having already heard its first single, Hey Ladies, I realized this album will never be Licensed To Ill. I loved Hey Ladies, but nothing like I loved The New Syle and Hold It Now, Hit It. Paul’s just wasn’t the same, and I thought the Beastie’s wouldn’t continue to interest me. Fortunately, I had the entire summer to listen to the tape over and over, and began to fall in love with Shake Your Rump, Shadrach, and the rest of the tape. Like my days of 1986, I decided to learn the lyrics and every nuance of that tape, cover to cover. Only difference was, I didn’t have most of my friends around to share it with, so I internally devoured every minute detail.

    Back at home, returned from summer vacation, I started to pick up every Paul’s Boutique cassingle and 12″ EP I could locate, including one titled Love American Style. This was actually the double single for Hey Ladies and Shake Your Rump, but contained so much more, like a remixed intstrumental of Shake Your Rump, which years years later would become the background music to the beginning of my pseudo-Beasties’ cover band, Suspicious Hooligans. As of today, I still have my Paul’s Boutique cassingles and LP’s.

    …more to come soon, including middle school with my friend and my hopes of getting on the TV show “Puttin’ On The Hits” to lip sync Fight For Your Right,  high school with my step-brother loving Check Your Head (me, not so much) and college with Ill Communication and my emergence as a (sort of) MCA impersonator…

  • Xbox 360 Dashboard Gets Minor Facelift

    Posted on October 18th, 2012 Shawn No comments

    We are getting a new dashboard update for Xbox 360. Simply, it just keeps getting better, step-by-step.  This time around we get Internet Explorer, Search for Kinect, and more parental controls.

    First up, IE makes its first appearance on Xbox. Can you believe, it took 7 years for Xbox to get a web browser? It’s crazy to think the Wii has had this capability since inception. Well, the good news, you can now browse the web on your couch using your 80″ LED display, versus your 10″ iPad. Hooray!

    Kinect gets some incremental added updates too.  Search is now throughout the dashboard, including video searching. This is a minor update, and some would argue that feature already existed.  It did exist before this update, but was limited to only portions of your data/services. Now, Kinect Search gets more full integration across all of your services, we think.

    The last big piece of this update, is improved security, including more controls for parental monitoring and time limiting. Also in this update, requires child and teen accounts to use multi-factor authentication, which is fancy lingo for phone number, email, or something like that.

    So, these are all incremental updates on what is already a fully feature rich dashboard.  IE is definitely big news, as we’ve been waiting 7 years for it.  Also note, with Windows 8 arriving on store shelves this month, another dashboard update to support Windows 8 is right around the corner. The coming update will introduce Xbox Music (the rebranded Zune) and SmartGlass (a feature that integrates with phones and tablets).

    Come back for updates on what’s coming.

    See the press release here.

  • A PAX East Low-Def Photo History

    Posted on April 5th, 2012 Shawn No comments

    2010

    Gamers Gaming - Expo Floor

    Gamers Gaming - Expo Floor

    Mr. Pope - Rock Band Lounge

    Mr. Pope - Rock Band Lounge

    Rock Band Lounge

    Rock Band Lounge

    Open Chord Rhythm Game Prototype - Expo Floor

    Open Chord Rhythm Game Prototype - Expo Floor

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Do Not Become a Zombie at PAX East

    Posted on April 5th, 2012 Shawn 1 comment

    PAX EastThis weekend marks the 3rd annual Penny Arcade Exposition East (better known as PAX East) at the Boston Exhibition and Conference Center (BCEC) on the Boston, MA waterfront. There are some basic guideline’s to think about before traveling to such an event.  First off, tickets are sold out. Don’t expect to buy a ticket at the door. 70,000 (or so) tickets are sold for this event on an annual basis.

    For those going to PAX East this weekend, I’d like to give a few tips to help you stay safe, comfortable, and avoid the highly toxic PAX flu (which generally invades your body 2-4 days after closing day of PAX).

    PAX ZombiesRandom tips for those attending PAX:

    1. Wear comfortable shoes. The BCEC is huge, and you will walk several miles throughout the weekend just traveling around the convention center.
    2. Have cash on hand. Not for the muggers, but for cabs (if you want to explore the real side of Boston, which is about a 2 mile walk), and food. Credit cards are welcome just about everywhere, but cash will be handy for those times when it’s the only accepted option.
    3. Dress in layers. It will get warm indoors, but outside will likely be windy and cool as the BCEC is right on the waterfront.
    4. Bring a backpack. To carry your layers, and all the swag you will pick up each day. Trust me, you will get a ton of swag, like it or not.
      Read the rest of this entry »
  • Steam App for Android is a Good Start

    Posted on March 9th, 2012 Simon 1 comment

    I love Steam!  Last month, Valve Software released their free Steam app.  Steam is a multi-platform distribution hub for video games, with presence on PC, Mac OS and PS3,  iPhone, and now Android.

    Steam is a major success largely due to the dedication and support from the company that created it.   Valve has a storied reputation for being incredibly supportive of it’s community.  Of the thousands of games on Steam, many are free-to-play, and games are put on sale every day.   Twice a year there is a major 15 day sales event, during the summer and christmas seasons.

    Once you purchase the game, the files are downloaded and installed on demand, and should any official update ever be released for the game, Steam will automatically update your copy.   This goes a long way to increasing the user’s  satisfaction with Steam, because keeping track of and installing updates takes time away from being able to play them.    Let me put it this way, I stopped caring about whether or not I was using the latest version once I switched completely to Steam.

    Steam has similar features to XBOX Live, in that you have a Friends list where you can tag your fellow gamers, join games, as well as voice and video chat.   Steam also has it’s own achievements, but these do not carry an individual point total and as a result you don’t have a ‘gamerscore’ as you would on Live.

    Steam LogoSo does this Steam app come with all of the great features that the full version does?  Not exactly.

    Pros of the Steam App:

    • Store – You can browse the impressive catalog of titles for Windows and Mac, add to your ‘wishlist’, and of course purchase the games.  Purchases show up in your Steam client once you login again.  You can even purchase games and ‘gift’ them to anyone else on Steam.
    • Slick mobile interface – one of the cooler interfaces on the market, information is presented properly for mobile devices and not just scaled down to fit.
    • Steam Chat – So far only text based chat with a very similar presentation to SMS messaging.  Somebody, somewhere on Steam is talking about the game you are interested and this makes it very easy to follow or join in.
    • Friends List & Updates – You can keep connected with your Steam friends on the go, and keep track of their game progress as well.

    Cons of the Steam App:

    • No games for Android or iOS – They have already said this is coming soon, but this was somewhat disappointing to learn that not a single Android or iOS game is available for purchase. You will have to stick to the marketplace/iTunes store for the time being.
    • Can’t see your own Acheivements – Again this is another feature that is in the works, but currently you can only see your friends’ acheivements.
    • No access to Steam Forums – You have to use a different app to browse the Steam forums (like Dolphin).  This is important because many times before I purchase a new game I’ll check the associated forum to find a review, recommendation, or list of complaints, which can affect my purchasing decision.

    Overall this is a fantastic app if you are a Steam gamer, or are at least interested in shopping online for games.  Once games and a few more features are added to the app, it will be major competition for the Marketplace and iTunes stores.

    You can download the free Steam App for Android here.

  • MyGGGo: New for 2012

    Posted on February 15th, 2012 Simon No comments

    I’d like to announce that I am returning to the blogosphere and to MyGGGo very shortly.   I departed this site in 2010 to focus on my career, and launch a new company in my hometown of Nanaimo, BC, Canada.  Now that the company has left the startup phase, I find myself with more and more free time to spend on my hobbies.   Shawn very graciously reached out to me last week in the hopes that we could work together again.   The timing seems to be right for a return.

    Since I departed MyGGGo I have stepped into both the PC and mobile gaming worlds and have exposure to a lot more titles, and consquently have a lot more to say about them!   My first posts will describe my recent security breach with XBOX Live Policy Enforcement in depth, a look at what is happening with the STEAM mobile app, and a review of the latest entry to the music games genre, ROCKSMITH, of which I am having lots and lots of fun with.   Weekly updates from me will begin next week, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

     

    -Simon Smith

  • app-a-day: Rock Band Reloaded for BlackBerry

    Posted on February 2nd, 2012 Shawn No comments

    MyGGGo presents App-A-Day

    Today we dive into one of my favorite games of all time, on one of the mobile devices I use daily. How do you think Rock Band will hold up on BlackBerry? Will it rock or not? Read on… 

     

    Rock Band Mobile ReloadedNAME: Rock Band Reloaded

    PUBLISHER: Electronic Arts

    PLATFORM: BlackBerry

    GENRE: Rhythm Game

    PRICE: $6.99

    TRY IT: N/A

    BUY IT: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/22193?lang=en

    WHAT IT DOES: Are you aware of that console game with plastic guitars, plastic drums, and karaoke style vocals? If you are on this site, I’m sure you are aware of Rock Band. Well, this is a BlackBerry mobile version of that game. It’s actually, the second version of Rock Band for BlackBerry, the first being titled Rock Band Mobile. Rock Band Reloaded does not actually use any plastic instruments or karaoke vocals. In their place, are dots scrolling across or down the screen that you need to tap in syncronization with the music. For touchscreen BlackBerry’s, all the commands work well on-screen.  For non-touchscreen BlackBerry’s the keyboard has commands to simulate screen touches.

    As for the music, you do not actually the real songs, or the full songs. What you do get is 16-bit renditions of the songs without vocals. Think of the sounds from Sega Genesis games. As for song lengths, after about 2 minutes, the in-game songs fade out and end.

    Graphically, the game is fine. The background looks like what is on Rock Band 1 on consoles. The notes coming at you look nearly identical to what you get on consoles too.  Instead of having your band rocking out on stage in the background, you just get a static image of a band or a player.

    Now, let’s talk gameplay. With easy, medium, and hard modes available, you get the ability to tap a few or a lot of bars coming at you. I found it ok in tapping the screen for guitar, bass, and drums. It’s not overly responsive, but not frustratingly poor either.  For the simulated vocals, you tap notes on-screen due to the lack of real vocals. I found the side-scrolling of vocals impossible to get the full 4-stars (and difficult to get 3-stars).

    There are single song playlists and a World Tour mode like in Rock Band 1 for consoles. With World Tour mode there are achievements encouraging you play the songs multiple times to achieve the necessary score or goal to gain the achievement and unlock other songs.

    You won’t find any DLC available for Rock Band Reloaded. You get 20 songs.

    DO I WANT IT: As an extremely hardcore Rock Band player on Xbox 360, I have played Rock Band Reloaded many times. I have also played the iPhone and Android versions as well (those have full-length real versions of the songs, high resolution graphics, and DLC). This BlackBerry version is no comparison to its Xbox, Android, or iPhone brethren. This game is better to play with the audio turned off, since the lo-fi audio is terrible and does not always sync to the notes on-screen.

    I almost wish Harmonix did not put their name on this version of Rock Band, as it is by far the worst implementation of a Rock Band game on any platform. Unfortunately, there is not a free version to try first, so I did buy the app at the steep $7 price point.

    In summary, stay away from this abomination. BlackBerry has never been known as a good gaming platform, and this game proves why.

    Others agree:

    Worst game you could ever buy for your phone

    It doesn’t hav full songs and no singing

    “I’m a Rock Band fanboy…And this version of the game is an embarrassment.  The music is all MIDI renditions of the original (think 8-bit Super Mario Bros theme song). Songs fade out about 3/4 through the song. There are no vocals, they are all replaced with synth MIDI sounds. Graphics are decent, achievements are nice, menus are good…looks like the iPhone version. The music issues heavily outweigh the decent look of the game.” <– Actually I left that review in BlackBerry App World

     

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