Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will let you choose how much of the present day you want to explore, to a point. Game Director Ashraf Ismail revealed via the Ubiblog that the game will feature “a solid three to five hours” of gameplay that takes place at Abstergo, the sinister mega-corporation antagonist of the series. Most of the modern day gameplay is optional, however; only roughly 20 minutes will be required.”You leave the Animus five times during the game’s main path and each time you’re there for about three to four minutes,” Ismail told the Ubiblog.While in the game’s modern day setting, you’ll play as an Abstergo programmer, researching protagonist and assassin-pirate, Edward Kenway. Dig through the company’s files, and you can uncover information, including what’s happened to Desmond. “You get to see what Abstergo Entertainment as a company is doing with your research. You get to see the progression of what they’re trying to do, which is really fun,” Ismail said.Software programmers and pirates don’t tend to get along in the real world, but in Assassin’s Creed 4, they apparently go together like peanut butter and jellyfish. No wait. Jelly. Just regular jelly.
Microsoft and the Xbox One will be in attendance at next week’s Tokyo Game Show, despite the next-gen system still lacking a Japanese release date. The company announced eight playable Xbox One games for the show floor, including Crimson Dragon and Titanfall.The eight Xbox One games slated for TGS are FIFA 14, Kinect Sports Rivals, Crimson Dragon, Forza 5, Ryse, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Killer Instinct, and Titanfall. There’ll also be a Xbox 360 section with 21 playable games, featuring the likes of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z among others.The news comes a month after Microsoft announced its return to TGS, having declined invitations last year to instead “focus on smaller, more localized promotions.” A shiny, new, expensively developed system warrants attendance, of course, although the Xbox One could really do with a release date; Japan is not one of the 13 markets getting the console on November 22, and it isn’t clear when the next-gen console will arrive there.The Tokyo Game Show, starting September 19, seems ripe opportunity to disclose more details, particularly since Sony played its hand earlier this week; the PS4 comes to Japan next year on February 22. Microsoft has previously stated it will hold an event in Japan at an “appropriate time” to divulge more details on the console’s launch.
The parallax effect is the new “motion” wallpaper laying behind the app icons on iOS 7. The subtle effect is meant to give some depth to the flat design of iOS 7, though some have said it gives them motion sickness. However, if you like parallax and want to make your own wallpapers that work well with the effect, you may want to check out a great article by CNET’s Jason Cipriani that describes the process.Cipriani notes that photos with depth and texture work best. If you pick a photo that has virtually no texture and is only a single color, don’t expect to get much motion from your background.Also, make photos at least 400 pixels wider and taller than your iOS device’s screen resolution. This is because the wallpaper needs to shift in the background to give the appearance of motion. If your wallpaper is just limited to the iOS device’s screen resolution it will need to be zoomed in on, which can create a less-than-desirable look. For iPhones and iPod touches with four-inch screens, use an image that’s 1,536 x 1,040 pixels. For Retina display iPads you’ll want 2,448 x 1,936. For more tips and screen resolutions, be sure to check out Cipriani’s article.
Do you feel it? That electric buzzing in the air of The Secret World (not to be confused with the sounds of buzzing heard by the bee-blessed)? I don’t know about you, but I sure can. It’s a very exciting time to be a fan of this Lovecraftian-horror-conspiracy-flavored game. Why, you ask? I am more than happy to share my reasons with you.It’s exciting because things that had been slowly building up have kicked into higher gear and are gathering speed; long-anticipated things are just barely out of reach but will soon be within our grasp. We are also this close to getting Issue #8 with its scenarios, augment systems, and Venice. And there’s a new issue cover with a name and date to prove it! We are also inching ever closer to getting — for the very first time ever — a whole new region in the game, replete with new missions, new nooks and crannies to explore, and new foes to face. Oh, and new lore!But that’s not even all. We have a long-term event going on now as well as the return of a favorite very soon. So if you haven’t been in The Secret World lately, now would surely be a good time to jump back in. One thing that always revs up the excitement meter for me is to see each new issue cover as it comes out. And there it is! The artwork is always impressive and it gives us a little visual insight into what’s to come. The mere release of the cover is a cue that we will be getting our mitts on the new issue soon, but it also tantalizes us with the issue’s name and the publish month. As you can see, Issue #8: The Venetian Agenda is due out this month, a fact I’d predicted before based on the planned release schedule Game Director Joel Bylos shared during our interview and was all but confirmed with the release of the last stage of Issue #7, The Whispering Tide event.So what’s in store in this soon-to-be-available issue? We’ve learned about the new scenario system that will be implemented and can look forward to more replayability. These repeatable scenarios with their random elements will be a training ground that the Council of Venice will use to test the mettle and skill of players. And although we knew long ago that Venice would not be a major new area to explore and play in like Tokyo (a fact also shared by Bylos), we can still look forward to having a physical place in game to put with the Council lore that permeates TSW. Add to this the fact that the duo versions seem to be the most popular during testing, and I am happy as a clam; duoing is my preferred playstyle.However, If you thought there were too many choices before, brace yourself: The augment system will offer players even more customization in their various combat builds, further differentiating players from one another. Newer information also notes that augments will have their own ability wheel just as the Auxiliary weapons do.Admittedly, we’ve been on the same phase of The Whispering Tide event for a little while, but I can’t help but be excited for what is surely coming up soon. What will be the next step as we fight back the Filth that is invading Agartha? What new things will be revealed, and what new player actions will be necessary to move forward? Knowing that we are on the cusp of such revelations inches me toward the edge of my seat.And even as I await the next phase of the event, the fact that each phase is literally one step closer to Issue #9 and the introduction of Tokyo just amps the anticipation. Just think: there are only six more phases to go!Who here isn’t excited to get to Tokyo? Hm? I thought so. Besides being a totally new zone with all the trappings of a whole zone (I cannot wait for more investigation missions!), well, does there need to be any more? We may not have a whole lot of information about this area, but we know that it will have exciting new stories and plenty of things to do. Now that Tokyo is not just some far off dream in the distance but something that is tantalizingly close, I am more excited for it than ever.Excitement fuel number four: Halloween! You might have actually heard my squeal when devs announced that the Halloween quests would be back this year. Having missed finishing the final mission and obtaining all the lore last time, I have dealt with a nagging sense of incompleteness this entire year. Now I can finally fill in that hole in my heart and my achievements. And let’s face it, The Cat God is just awesome! After tying up those loose ends, I will then be jumping right into the new series of missions that focus on different urban legends from around Solomon Island. Who isn’t looking forward to revisiting the stories of Tyler Freeborn?Adding no less to the excitement is the fact that Halloween (which just so happens to be my favorite holiday) is the holiday of The Secret World. While most games throw their biggest parties and host their biggest events at Christmastime, All Hallow’s Eve is definitely more fitting for this spooky game.Now, since my plea for an encore of events was obviously heard, I wonder if I could convince them to add a day where I could get the lore from the Opening Night and End of Days events. It wasn’t that I wasn’t there; I was! I just didn’t know there was special lore to grab as I was too busy oohing and ahhing over the game for the former and trying to kill as many zombies as possible in the latter.My final bit of excitement involves the new player-designed clothing creations that will be going into game thanks to Funcom’s recent contest. As you should well know, I am always excited by player-generated content. Which creations will we be able to don? That is yet to be decided, as the contest has been reopened for voting due to the first selection having to be disqualified. But just the fact that players are getting to make a permanent mark on the game is great to me and gives me a feeling that even more chances for PGC are to come. And that’s worth getting excited about!Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos — the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ and Justin every Monday as they infiltrate The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll jump on the case!
“Okay, where are the minecart levels?”That’s a novel, ill-advised question when it comes to platformers, but Retro Studios achieved the improbable with 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns (updated this year with a 3DS version). The side-scrolling platformer knew how to do a good minecart level, exhibiting creative design in a realm meant to be firmly on tracks – sometimes the whole track would curl up and break loose, rolling forward as you spun around a makeshift motorcycle cage.The rickety rail-jumping returns in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, along with some of the other special traits that rightly suit Nintendo’s tie-wearing gorilla. I played a handful of levels set at various points of the game, getting a sense of its challenge and momentum. As before, Donkey Kong and an optional companion – the diminutive Dixie Kong joins this time – run from left to right, leaping and swinging to avoid flames, falls and the fury of nasty animals marching about. The backgrounds are a vivid mix of jungles, caverns and cloudy skies, and all benefit from Retro’s graduation to HD on the Wii U. Gallery: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (10/8/13) | 11 Photos 11 +7 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a straightforward sequel that builds on Retro’s approach to level creation: introducing a variety of hazards that don’t undermine the game’s core challenge, which is, simply put, “Where and when do I jump?” It sounds trivial, but the game colors the question with elaborate masks, all easily deciphered in the moment. Tree canopies blacken and burn as a fire rages in the jungle beneath you – there goes your platform! – and a giant shark-thing snaps in front of your minecart, prompting you to leap to a parallel track. The game is simultaneously challenging and easy to read.Retro Studios is also trying to maintain that balance without sacrificing the old-school game inside Donkey Kong Country. Whether it’s Diddy Kong or Dixie Kong, you have the option of carrying them like a backpack full of help. Dixie Kong, for instance, spins her hair and lifts Donkey just a tad higher, whether it’s to grab an enticing banana (any banana) or escape a botched jump. Yeah, it’s a double-jump, big whoop, but it’s perfect for those who have yet to become fluent in the language of where to move when something’s about to smash, burn or drop you.For its many grim fates, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is still a bright and silly game. The mega-fish biting through your train tracks are joined by sinister penguins, showboating seals and a level filled with various cheeses. And yes, a large portion of it will try to kill you.Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is on track, Nintendo says, for February 2014.
The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mike Sacco will be your host today.It’s 2 AM and I forgot I had to do The Queue! I’m still off schedule from my little mini-vacation last weekend. Johnggernaut asked:Has there been any indication that the overhaul of player race skins would include size changes? This occurred to me when I was running around with Garrosh at the Horde Landing Site. I can’t recall if lore-wise he was large for an orc or average. Either way, larger Orcs would be something I’d enjoy seeing.You can safely bet that the models will be like the current models in almost every way, just way, way better. Don’t expect changes to physique, height, etc. HobMeadows asked:So where did the majority opinion land with “The Dark Below”?* Random Internet Hoax?* Blizzard Hoax / Red Herring?* Actual TM From Blizzard That They Turned Into A Red Herring, And We Don’t Care At This Point, ‘Cuz We’re Waiting ‘Til Blizzcon?I’m just kind of surprised at how quickly it died, and with a whimper at that…I don’t know where the “majority opinion” landed, but it’s a hoax. Blizzard even joked about it, which there’s no way they would do if it was a real thing (it isn’t).DanielHudson asked:Ok. I got into the Hearthstone Beta. Anyone know the requirements to acquire the Hearthsteed for WoW?Nobody knows yet. It may not be a beta thing at all.BaronOfTheLake asked:So is upgrading gear the only use of valor in the next patch? I’ve got 3k on my main, and I’m just realizing that I have no incentive to do much of anything, as valor was the impetus for doing almost anything in mists. I may (read unlikely) get a new piece of gear that first week to spend 500 vp on, but then I’ll grab it again real quick. So tell me I can spend it on something, anything. You can use valor points to buy bags of Timeless Coins on the Timeless Isle if you so desire. The coins have many uses, including helping to gear up alts.melvyl asked:So is the item level of Siege of Orgrimmar LFR 496? I read that yesterday elsewhere. I only have one character who will qualify immediately but with the JP gear changes it shouldn’t be hard to get a couple more ready.Yep, you’ll be able to queue in SoO LFR with an item level of 496. Have questions about the World of Warcraft? The WoW Insider crew is here with The Queue, our daily Q&A column. Leave your questions in the comments, and we’ll do our best to answer ’em!
Splash Damage’s Extraction, which you may know better as Dirty Bomb, is set to launch a closed beta on October 1, publisher Nexon America has announced. All interested parties looking to get in on the free-to-play PC shooter’s closed sampler session can sign up over on the official site right now.Extraction was first announced as Dirty Bomb, an Unreal Engine-based competitive shooter set in a London shaken by attack. Extraction has been in development since 2010 at Splash Damage, best known for creating Brink and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Gallery: Dirty Bomb | 10 Photos 10 +6
If you ask guild members for their number one reason why they avoid making the leap from casual to a more focused, hardcore progression path, the answer would be time. Progress means raiding multiple nights for several hours, and that’s time that many either don’t have or aren’t willing to give up.Ironically, one of the things that separates good raiding guilds from everyone else is their use of time. Cutting-edge gear and high DPS parses are fine, but even average guilds can progress quickly by making the best use of their time during the raid. And in addition, slow, monotonous raids suddenly feel vibrant and fun. Let’s take a look at how to speed things up in this week’s Guild Counsel. Straggle rockLatecomers can sink your raid before it even begins. If you have an announced start time, stick to it, and if you have space for a few more, let the responsibility of catching up to the raid fall on them. Unless you know you can’t field a viable raid force with the numbers you have at start time, there’s no reason not to head in, especially since the beginning of the raid is usually trash mobs that don’t require full strength.Burn trashRaiders often take it easy on trash mobs, but when you consider that most of the raid’s time is spent on clearing trash to get to a few bosses, the priority should be on clearing them as quickly as possible. Stress the importance of not sneaking off to AFK on trash, and encourage people to DPS as hard as they do on a boss fight. Clearing trash quickly not only gives you more time to work on bosses, but it also keeps people sharp for when that time comes.Don’t be slowed by deathIf someone dies during trash clearing, don’t wait for them to get rezzed before moving. Assign someone to clean-up duty, and continue clearing. Newly rezzed players can buff on the fly, and chances are that the hassle of rezzing, begging for rebuffs, and scrambling to catch up to the raid will encourage raiders to be more careful next time.Wipes are more serious, but they don’t need to be the brick wall that completely stops your raid’s momentum. If the raid wipes, rez and buff as fast as possible (no ninja AFKs!), and don’t spend too much time talking about why. Often, the reason for a wipe isn’t the strategy but the execution, and it’s not necessary to spend several minutes talking about something that is easily corrected.Loot and scootLoot is another factor that can slow down the raid. If the loot is tradeable, consider assigning a master looter to collect everything and distribute it at the end. If it’s not, try to put a time limit on loot decisions. Encourage members to review their gear before the raid so you don’t have to stand around waiting for them to ponder whether it’s an upgrade or not. You could even take an extra step and post up loot tables for bosses you’ll be hitting. This will give members the opportunity to compare ahead of time.Treat it like a sports game, part IPacing is very important in sports. Timeouts, line changes, and fixed game times play an important role, because players push themselves to work their hardest during play, knowing there are defined breaks for rest and a finite amount of playtime. Approach raiding the same way. Consider keeping a timer going, and plan for hard stops at a reasonable time. Discourage ninja AFKs by announcing periodic (but short) pauses during the raid. Treat it like a sports game, part IIThere’s always a lot of focus on trying to top the parse, and often, players think that the key to a great raid force is if everyone’s cranking out a lot of dps or healing. While high parses are helpful, it’s just one way to speed up a raid, and it is arguably not as crucial as players make it out to be. Just as with sports teams, individuals on a raid need to coordinate with one another in several different ways. Tanks need to work together to keep pulls coming fast, but they also need to coordinate with healers to make sure they’re able to keep them alive. Consider having tanks practice tag team pulling, so that while one tank is holding trash for the raid to burn, another is out grabbing up the next round.Treat it like a sports game, part IIIGood coaches are able to correct mistakes by their players, but great coaches are able to anticipate those mistakes and prevent them from happening. It’s challenging to try to be the eyes of every single raider, but great raid leaders know when to call out important reminders and adjustments during a fight. They also know when to push for better execution, without getting to the point that they’re nagging. Raid leaders need to know how to clearly communicate without getting wordy and repetitive, so that the instructions they do give resonate with the raid force.Business casualJust because you’re pushing hard and maximizing time doesn’t mean you can’t have friendly banter. Legolas and Gimli finished off dozens of orcs and were also able to do a little trash-talking at the same time. Some guilds prefer to raid with a quiet voice chat, and that’s fine if it fits your guild’s personality. But if your guild is chatty, there’s no reason they can’t do a little yapping as long as it doesn’t become a distraction.Keep them eager for more at the endTry to end your raids on a high note. That can mean a neat and tidy raid that succeeds in clearing the zone just in time for the hard stop. But even a wipe could be a good way to end the raid. If you’ve led a nicely-paced, productive raid, chances are that everyone had an enjoyable time and will be hungry for a return trip the next time you raid.Raiding does take time, but it doesn’t have to take as much time as people assume. And with these quick fixes, even a casual guild can cruise through a raid zone and make progress. By paying more attention to the pace of your raid, you’ll make your raids more productive but also more enjoyable, and instead of begging people to join along, you’ll have players lining up to get a spot.Do you have a guild problem that you just can’t seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you’d like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She’ll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.
Developer Cloud Imperium Games has inched closer to the final frontier by surpassing $20 million in crowd funding for its space sim, Star Citizen.According to the developer, which is led by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, $10 million was raised in the last four and a half months. Star Citizen’s crowdfunding campaign employed a number of tactics, including funding via Kickstarter on its own website campaign, which offered a plethora of in-game, class-specific rewards and bonuses.”Honestly, we never dreamed we’d reach this point so quickly. It’s a testament to the passion that our backers have for space sims and PC gaming,” Roberts said in a press release announcing the new funding total, which the team collected in less than one year.In August, Cloud Imperium Games released the first of many modules for Star Citizen: an interactive hangar. The game itself – a hardcore space sim – is expected to launch on PC in 2014.Roberts told me in an interview during E3 that the vision he had in his head for Star Citizen, before the funding campaign began, was in the financial ballpark of $20 million. “The full game that I want to build that was in my head was always like $20 million … or 21 or 22. It’s in that range,” Roberts said. “That’s kind of what we’re shooting for, right now.” Gallery: Star Citizen | 24 Photos 24 +20 Show full PR textChris Roberts’ Star Citizen Flies Past $20 Millionin Crowd FundingPC based space sim from Cloud Imperium Games continues its record-smashing crowd fund campaign; Roberts redefining game development with more than 260,000 supporters on boardLos Angeles, September 26, 2013 – Star Citizen™, the PC based space sim from legendary designer Chris Roberts has crossed yet another major milestone in its crowd funding campaign. Roberts’ company, Cloud Imperium™ Games announced today the campaign passed the $20 million mark in crowd funding. It’s an amount that’s been raised in less than one year – $10 million was raised in just the past 4 ½ months.”It was not quite a year ago when we began our voyage with this incredible community,” said Roberts, Cloud Imperium CEO. “Honestly, we never dreamed we’d reach this point so quickly. It’s a testament to the passion that our backers have for space sims and PC gaming. We have the best community in all of gaming and they are literally taking part in helping us develop Star Citizen.”Star Citizen’s crowd funding campaign is setting new standards in the way a community participates in a game’s development. “We are breaking new ground in community interaction,” said Roberts. “The fans are involved through feedback forums, polls and direct contact with our dev team, and all the while they are continuing to back our project even more and helping us put out the word about Star Citizen. Our backers are our sales force. It’s really quite liberating for us and for our fans who are helping us create the dream of a true AAA PC game without the restrictions of a publisher.”Ahead for Star Citizen backers and fans are plenty of game updates including the unveiling of more ships, some surprise announcements coming at the one year anniversary of the game’s unveiling on October 10 and the highly anticipated dogfighting module scheduled in coming months. More Information on becoming a Star Citizen backer can be found at http://www.RobertsSpaceIndustries.com.Star Citizen is a crowd funded game that officially launched on October 10 of 2012. Since that time Roberts’ company has raised more than $20 million from backers all over the world makingStar Citizen the top ranking crowd funded project ever.About Cloud Imperium GamesCloud Imperium Games Corporation and its subsidiary Roberts Space Industries was founded in April 2012 by renowned game developer Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Freelancer, Privateer) and his business partner and long-time international media attorney Ortwin Freyermuth. Under Roberts’ leadership using his long-standing relationships in the game space, Cloud Imperium quickly assembled a top tier development team for the creation of art assets, story elements, and an extensive prototype for its first game Star Citizen. Star Citizen is being marketed and launched viawww.robertsspaceindustries.com. Cloud Imperium’s strategy is about customer acquisition through established game designer fan bases. More information about the company, including jobs and contact information can be found at www.cloudimperiumgames.com.
Sixense, the motion control technology company whose scientific know-how powers the Razer Hydra, launched a Kickstarter earlier today to fund the final development stages of its STEM System – a modular motion-tracking solution for VR and other gaming applications. The fundraising campaign’s goal of $250,000 has already been surpassed.Consisting of up to five wireless tracking modules (“STEMs”) and a base station for charging and orientation tracking, the STEM System is designed so that STEMs can either be inserted into peripherals, or slapped into “STEM Packs,” which are then strapped to whatever part of your body the game is interested in tracking. The STEM System is also backwards compatible with all games that currently support the Razer Hydra.The technology is apparently immune to “drift,” as it “does not rely on inertial sensors (gyroscopes and accelerometers) for position tracking,” according to the Kickstarter. Additionally, there’s no line-of-sight requirement between the STEMs and their base unit.Backers that pledge at a high-enough level ($199 and up, depending on how many STEMs you want) should expect to receive their own STEM System in July of 2014, though there’s no indication that this is when retail units will hit shelves. In fact, Kickstarter proceeds are only being used to finish development and produce enough units for backers – retail models will enter mass production “later.”Our friends over at Engadget have already had a go with a STEM System prototype, so be sure and check out their video of the experience for an in-depth look at what the dealio, yo. Gallery: The Sixsense STEM System | 3 Photos 3 +1
Battlefield 4’s Open Beta is set to detonate on the PC, 360 and PS3 on October 1, EA revealed on Friday. The game’s next-gen counterparts have also been given street dates: November 12 for PlayStation 4 and November 19 for Xbox One, three days before the console’s release on November 22.EA noted in the announcement that beta players will be able to “learn maps, unlock items and build stats” for use in the October 29 release of Battlefield 4. Players can also carry over stats, unlocks and awards from the 360 and PS3 to the Xbox One or PS4 versions once they launch in November. Those looking to upgrade should check into the programs that offer deals towards buying the next-gen version of games they already own.Those that sign up for Battlefield 4 Premium, pre-order Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe or that have purchased Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s deluxe or limited editions will be granted access to the “Exclusive” Battlefield 4 beta. The Beta’s FAQ lists that the Exclusive Beta will also begin in early October – meanwhile this EA help article says that the Open Beta comes after the Exclusive one. We’ve reached out to EA for more information.Update: The text of this article has been adjusted for clarity, and to reflect that further information may be forthcoming.
Main character Tarbhdonn, Shu’halo (tauren) beastmastery hunterGuild Ná Clan Cáilte (The Lost Family)Realm Blackwater Raiders (US)WoW Insider: World of Warcraft and owning an Irish pub — I love to see the results of blending interests with as much panache as you have! Do you have Irish roots beyond your ownership of an Irish pub?Allen Tatman: My ancestral roots to Ireland are deep and varied, but my most recent connection is to my great-grandfather, who can to the States from Donegal in 1906 at the age of 18. He spent his last years living with my grandparents, who took care of me while my parents were at work, so I was around my great-granddad a lot before I started school. He died when I was 6, so I didn’t really understand all of the “Irish” connection until I was in college studying history, and it was then that my interest in my heritage began to flourish. Since that time, I have always had a strong interest in Irish history and culture.How did that interest develop into owning an Irish-flavored business?My family owned a tavern in Hannibal, Mo., and as a child I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons in the bar and loved it. I started busing tables and washing dishes when I was 13, then worked in the kitchen, and while in college I tended bar part time to help with the bills (mostly beer bills). I always wanted to own a bar, but I was dissuaded by my family — they wanted me to have “the better life than we had” thing, you know. So after graduate school I floundered around doing various uninteresting jobs that had nothing to do with my educational background in American Ethno-History.In 1994, I landed in Jefferson City, Mo., working for the State Historic Preservation Office. I used to stop after work on occasion at a venerable old bar in Jeff City called Pat’s Place. Every time I stopped by, I always thought “This place could be great if they knew what they were doing.” Be careful what you wish for, because when the place came available for sale in 2000, I jumped in.The major problem was that the three previous owners had run the business into the ground, and its reputation was not very good. Along with my wife Marilee and my Uncle Tommy, we cleaned it up and changed the name to Paddy Malone’s (after another great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side of the family). Tommy runs the kitchen, I manage the bar, and Marilee takes care of the books.We have tried to make it as authentic an Irish pub as can be found in mid-Missouri, one of the last family-owned and -operated establishments in town. Our philosophy is simple: We have created a place where we want people to feel at home — safe, relaxed, with good food, good drink, and a warm Irish welcome. We pay a good wage here and offer health benefits, usually unheard of in the bar and restaurant business. Because we treat our employees like family, we rarely have staff leave us, unless they find something in a chosen career field. We have been blessed and the business has continued to flourish for 13 years.But that’s not the only business venture you’ve launched that involves Ireland, is it?In 2004, I started taking groups of customers from here to Ireland on tours. This has been a side business to feed my Ireland addiction, and as I write this to you, I am preparing on leaving this week to guide my twelfth tour of Ireland.And so let’s fold in WoW. Tell us what the telltale giveaway that you’re a WoW player is for patrons of your pub.Sitting on the red mahogany back bar of Paddy Malone’s, next to the Rosetta Stone Irish Gaelic Language Edition and the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, is a handcrafted bodhrán, the traditional hand drum of Celtic music. On the goatskin head of the drum is a blood-red Horde symbol appliqué, along with the words in Celtic print “Ná Clan Cáilte.” This is the single biggest giveaway that a WoW enthusiast is somewhere in the vicinity.Also, I sometimes wear my THUNDER BLUFF WARSTOMPERS T-shirt.In the past, when we started the guild in 2010, we had placed recruiting posters around the bar, and it helped us get some members.Nice! What’s the general reaction to the WoW touches?The general reaction from folks when the discover that I play is “Really?” … Others kind of look at me askance and wonder why a 52-old-man plays a video game. These people were raised by the heathens, think nothing of spending hours watching so called “reality” television, and they will never understand the camaraderie and interaction that comes along with playing an MMO game, so I simply ignore them.What gave you the idea to use the Horde symbol on something so traditionally Irish?When I started playing WoW, I dove deep into the lore; I’m a history guy, and lore is everything. I think that was my greatest attraction to the game — the rich and complex story behind these characters. It truly is a world within itself, and it was so easy for me to get lost within.The history of the Irish people has been one of oppression, struggle, and tragedy, yet beneath has always been a profound sense of optimism. The Horde, it seems to me, is very much this same way. In Irish history, there have been great victories and heroes as well as crushing defeats and betrayals, same as the Horde.The new storyline with the current Battlefield Barrens and the Siege of Orgrimmar has me very much intrigued. It echoes of the episode in Irish history in the 12th century when MacMurrow was defeated in battle by O’Rourke, and MacMurrow asked the Norman English knight Strongbow to help him take back his holdings, allowing a foothold for English occupation of Ireland for the next 800 years. Will the Alliance gain more lands after the defeat of Garrosh? Who will be the new Warchief in this vacuum of power? This is the stuff I love about WoW!Another similarity I see is the tribal and clan system within the races of the Horde. Unlike the Alliance, which has a true hierarchy of royalty and heredity in place, the Horde is tribal, very similar to the old Celtic/Gaelic clan system of the Irish.Then there is the connection of the tauren and orc with war drums. The symbol is so strong with the tauren that they mount drums on their war kodos.And, it makes for a nice conversation piece during our traditional Irish music sessions when people ask me about the significance of the symbol and the name. Most people, even if they have not played WoW, are familiar with the game because of the television commercials, or perhaps they have a child or grandchild that plays. I have even had customers try out the free version of the game, and one fellow has even become quite the raider on another server, and it all started with his introduction because he asked about the bodhrán.Do people ever ask why you play a tauren instead of a dwarven hunter?Simple: Dwarves in WoW are Scottish, not Irish. Their accent unmistakably points that out. Unfortunately, many Americans do not make the distinction.Tell us about the novel you’ve written about your tauren character.As I said before, when I started playing the game I was soaking up the lore like a sponge, and I began to think how would Tarbhdonn fit into this world, what would his life been like growing up in Azeroth, how would he have been drawn into the world of a hunter. I started by writing a short story, then another, and one of my guildmates said that I should flesh it out — and thus was the genesis of The Path of the Hunter. Four hundred and fifty-two pages later, I had a manuscript.After inquiring about the possibility of Blizzard buying the novel, they informed me they did not look at unsolicited manuscripts. So if I do publish, it will be a small-run, self-published venture where I might give copies to my close friends, or I may publish it online at a fan fiction site. But I really didn’t write it to make money or be famous. I wrote it for me and for the fun — or “for the Craic!” as they say in Ireland.Well since you still play WoW, of course, what about a sequel?I have already written a long short story that I could easily be expanded about Tarbhdonn’s father, Caobháin, and his dark journey from being a tauren warrior to becoming a death knight, so it is really a prequel. And I have been writing notes for a sequel about Tarbhdonn’s adventures with the Siege of Orgrimmar. I love writing. It is a relaxing way to contemplate the gameplay and lore of WoW, and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction. It is just a matter of finding the time.”I never thought of playing WoW like that!” — and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones’ Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid’s DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to email@example.com.
Thirty-four vintage League of Legends champion skins that had been removed from the in-game store will be making a comeback, developer Riot Games has announced. The entire set will be made available over the course of several months, with previously-retired Halloween skins coming this month, Christmas and winter skins in December, Winter Olympics skins in February, and soccer World Cup skins in June.Of the 34 vintage skins, the most common, Bewitching Nidalee, appears once every 971 games in North America. The least common, Ice Toboggan Corki, appears once every 116,586 games in North America. “We think it’s important to solve this, especially since we believe skins are primarily about self-expression and fun, not exclusivity,” the company stated in its announcement.Players who already own the skins will be compensated in several ways: they’ll receive a number of Riot Points equal to the amount they originally paid for the skin, a special visual effect on their champion’s image during match loading, and an exclusive summoner icon.To see all the skins which will be re-entering the Fields of Justice, check out the official post. If you have any questions you want to ask Riot regarding the skins, they’ll be holding an AMA on Reddit October 15, starting at noon, Pacific.
You knew it was too good to be true. Instagram has been free to download and use since it first hit the App Store in October of 2010, but now the app will be turning into a conduit for ads in order to turn a profit and make Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition look like a smart deal. Instagram’s director of business operations, Emily White, outed the news about Instagram ads in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday.White told the WSJ that Instagram should be ready to start selling ads next year. Meanwhile, the company with the mission of capturing and sharing the world’s moments needs to determine a way to make those ads visible to its 150 million-plus users without risking a mass exodus. Last December, a change in Instagram’s terms of service carried the implication that user content — your photos and short videos — could be transformed into ads, and many users pushed back by dropping the service. However, a gain of 128 million monthly active users since Facebook bought the company has more than outweighed the few who left in a huff.The challenge to Instagram is to make the service valuable to advertisers without making users — who are used to an ad-free Instagram — irate. Whether or not that challenge is met by the company remains to be seen.[via VentureBeat]
Embattled mobile hardware makers BlackBerry has announced that it is bringing a new cloud software solution to iOS to enable “trusted and simple” enterprise mobility management on Apple’s devices. The new cloud solution (which apparently doesn’t have a name yet) aims to tackle the BYOD complexities of the modern office. BYOD stands for “bring your own device” and refers to the wants/needs of the modern worker to work on devices of their choice — often their own personal devices — be it Android, iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry.BlackBerry says its upcoming solution will enable companies to “manage apps, get friendly technical support and a whole lot more,” including:Simple and fast deployment. No server hardware or software to install, just register and go.Administrators can easily manage and secure smartphones and tablets. The simple Web-based admin console will provide easy activation and deployment of BlackBerry, iOS and Android™ smartphones, app management, security policy configuration and compliance monitoring.Administrators can secure, deploy and manage apps. Administrators will be able to build a catalog of public apps from the App StoreSM, Google Play and the BlackBerry World storefront, and then view app distribution and usage for all users and devices.End-users can manage their own devices through the self-service console. End-users will be able to easily perform common management tasks such as setting up or changing device passwords and remote wipe and lock without relying on an administrator, giving them independence and saving on helpdesk calls.There’s no word on a release date or exact cost, but BlackBerry says enterprise mobility management will cost “less than a cup of coffee a month.”