Previous month:
April 2011
Next month:
June 2011

May 2011

Power Button - Episode 49: A Return To Aperture Science

Power ButtonSeveral episodes ago we took a spoiler-free look at Valve's Portal 2 for the PC, Mac, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360 with a promise that we'd return to the topic to have a deeper, spoiler-packed discussion once more of you out there had a chance to finish the game.  Now is that future time.  This week on Power Button we analyze Portal 2 to within an inch of its digital life with discussions on the storyline, GLaDOS's evolution, the rise and fall of Aperture Science, the madness of Cave Johnson, and much more.  Brad Hilderbrand, Joey Davidson, and I have been completely enamored with this game and this is our chance to explain just why.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via  and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons,@aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. Next week: we go to space celebrate our landmark fiftieth episode!  Join us and our guests for some surprises!

Power Button - Episode 49: A Return To Aperture Science

Weekly Poll: Pay And Play And Pay

Weekly Poll for 5-09-2011No love out there for Assassin's Creed's Desmond Miles?  None at all.  I shouldn't be too surprised considering that players spend much less time with him than Altaïr or Ezio and he's kind of a jerk at times.  He's a well-meaning jerk, sure, but that doesn't win popularity contests.  My choice for favorite character from the franchise has to be Ezio.  I've seen most of his life play out over the course of the series so I feel as if I know him (as much as one can know a fictional character, anyway) and he's fighting for a righteous cause.  While originally rooted in selfishness, his mission has taken him into a grander place.  I almost wish that the franchise had dumped Altaïr and Desmond to the curb and focused on him as the primary protagonist.  The other assassins just slow me down.  Perhaps the upcoming Assassin's Creed Revelations will tie the whole package together in a satisfying way.

Moving on, we've talked about online passes before and how they lock off certain pieces of content behind an additional paywall.  Now that the passes have been out there for a while across a number of different titles, genres, and publishers, I want to know if you've purchased a game that requires one.  Did you do it without knowing what you were getting into?  Do you refuse to purchase them?  Or have you yet to encounter one?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Valve Wants Vulgar Morons To Pay More For Games

ValveSometimes it seems preferable that the idiots who spew racist and vulgar garbage during online gaming sessions should be penalized somehow outside of the game for their misbehavior.  How can good behavior be emphasized and rewarded in the video gaming world?  Well, one could charge jerks more money to get into a game than polite players have to pay.  Better yet, what if being a polite player paid off with rewards and discounted content?  Valve's Gabe Newell has an idea along these lines and would like to see Valve give it a shot.  Joey Davidson has the news over at TechnoBuffalo.

While this new concept has not been executed, what Valve is even considering is monumental. And, in this writer’s opinion, absolutely brilliant. Gamers that have good reputations for being friendly, sporting players will receive the right to purchase game content for less than its suggested price. In fact, there’s a chance that the nicest and most well behaved of the bunch will get free content.

For those that are complete idiots online, the ones that scream obscenities, send threatening vulgar messages or use hate language constantly, comes a new set of prices. Those players may pay more than full price for the right to game.

I think this is an interesting idea, but like so many things, the devil is in the details.  Just how will people react to being charged different prices than their friends (and foes)?  Is there a continuously moving line regarding the cutoff between a normal player who pays the standard retail price and a polite one who earns a discount?  I'm picturing the pricing structures that we see in the airline industry in that while everyone on the plane gets to the same place in the end, nobody on the flight paid the same price for a ticket.  While I'm all for discounts, nobody wants to be on the wrong end of one.  Penalizing jerks with higher prices though?  That I can get behind all the way, although I expect Valve will draw fire from many critics and jerks if they move forward with the idea.

PlayStation Network Is Back Online

PlayStation NetworkAfter several weeks of upgrades and security fixes, Sony has started to reactivate its PlayStation Network around the world (minus Japan, notably) with a first emphasis on connecting to the network itself, syncing trophies, online multiplayer, and so forth.  Don't expect to see the PlayStation Store back up and running for a bit yet.  A firmware upgrade is required before one can connect to PSN, and that upgrade will trigger a password reset before logging back on, so be sure to get that done sooner rather than later.  You don't want to risk some nefarious hacker or accomplice getting to your account and changing the password before you do.  It felt good to reconnect yesterday evening and sync my latest trophies, but I'm mainly looking forward to getting Netflix back up and running.  The whispered workaround for using it in PSN's absence stopped working for me last week for some reason, but now that things are getting back to normal, that's not an issue anymore.  Streaming Timecop for all!

Shut Up, Kaepora Gaebora

AdviceNintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a time-honored classic, but it's not a perfect game.  Water Temple aside, its biggest flaw involves a certain exposition owl that just will not shut up.  Whenever Kaepora Gaebora shows up, Link's quest comes to a momentary halt so that he can spout endless jabber about the various tasks at hand, but his dialogue is unskippable and drones on and on.  It's not uncommon for players to hammer away at the A button to try and speed up his speeches, but unfortunately the last thing that the blasted owl asks is always "Would you like to hear that again?", and since players are usually bashing that A button nonstop by this point, well... Brawl In The Family transposes this experience directly to Link himself in the "Advice" comic.  Poor Link.  Some problems are universal.

80,000 Deus Ex Accounts Hacked

Deus Ex: Human Revolution UPDATE: Joystiq has a statement from Eidos owner Square-Enix that makes this sound not as bad as originally reported. 

Hackers claiming to have splintered off from the maligned Anonymous collective have hit the gaming industry with a new hack attack.  Those who play Eidos's Deus Ex: Human Revolution should be aware that 80,000 accounts have been compromised with plenty more personal information now in the hands of unscrupulous people.  Making matters worse, data theft doesn't seem to have been the sole motive in this attack.  Hackers bragging online made mention of wanting to use the hacked Deus Ex website to launch nasty intrusions on users' PCs.  Here's PC Gamer with more:

Visitors to logging on to the site yesterday will have seen the above message, left by the hackers after the attack. According to the hackers’ IRC chat logs, the names credited with the hack belong to a series of Anonymous members disliked by the real culprits, evo and @n. It’s unclear whether the attack had a real purpose, but the outcome could have been worse than data theft, as his excerpt from the hacker chat suggests. Krebs On Security have the rest of the chat log here.

[16:07] evo: one thing that would be funny
[16:07] evo: i write a nasty virus
[16:07] evo: that will bsod on startup
[16:07] evo: fuck up all your drivers
[16:07] evo: delete tons of files
[16:07] evo: forkbom on start
[16:07] evo: etc
[16:08] evo: we put that in an exploit kit
[16:08] evo: on the main page
[16:08] evo: there security will be responsible
[16:08] evo: for like
[16:08] evo: thousands of fucked up computers
[16:08] evo: and it would make the news

Square Enix hasn’t yet commented on the hack, which also saw 9,000 resumes stolen. The affected sites are now back up. If you are a registered user at or Deus Ex, it might be a good idea to change your passwords.

Rock Paper Shotgun also has coverage.  I don't know what I can say that hasn't already been said in the aftermath of the PlayStation Network attack and subsequent service shutdown.  Lax security on the servers in question is an issue, yes, but the real blame lies with those that would intrude on systems and cause havoc just for the sake of making trouble.  What's the quote from The Dark Knight?

Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who had traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: So why steal them?

Alfred: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. 

Terrible Ideas In PlayStation Marketing History: LSD Edition

Walter BishopThere once was a time when Jason Scott worked in technical support at Psygnosis, and he has been reminiscing about his days working at the dawn of the original PlayStation console.  The company chose to target the club scene in North America when it began marketing its new product, and being part of that scene apparently meant trying to fit in with what the crazy club kids were doing with their loud music and energy drinks.  Here's a stunning bit of the story in which Scott recalls just how deep into the clubs the marketers were willing to go in order to be real straight legit in that crazy '90s way:

In one of my many wanderings, I’d sometimes go through the pile of marketing materials just to see the cool little weird ideas that the gang was coming up with. And by “the gang”, I mean “the gang in Europe”, because the US office had very little pull and would often just be sent things out of the blue. Marketing, in other words, ended up mostly being “Sales” and being an american phone number to call when a magazine needed more original artwork sent over.

So there I am, going through the stuff, and I found a small cache of Playstation material. And in that Playstation material, among the Wipeout promotions and “U R NOT E” sloganeering, was this perforated paper, light cardboard really, with the Playstation logo.

It kind of confused me; who’d want some cardboard logo which was hundreds of tiny squares combined in a grid to form a Playstation Logo? Then it hit me.



I didn’t keep it; I just put it back in the pile. I think in one moment I saw the level of desperation Sony would achieve in marketing the Playstation, the no-holds-barred level they’d go to get the Playstation logo out there. I have no idea how the whole thing would work, how you’d hand this blotter paper to the right people, how you’d leave it somewhere for folks to find, how you could possibly, ever, think this was a good idea. But someone did, and I saw in all this some of the face of how insane things had gotten.

I had no idea that Fringe's Walter Bishop once worked for Sony.  You are not ready, indeed.    We've looked back on some bizarre marketing campaigns over the years (and Sony has had more of its fair share of them), but official PlayStation blotter paper is a new level of crazy.  Why not take things all the way to the next level with official Nintendo 'shrooms and authentic Microsoft Xboxtacy tabs (they come in groups of 360)?

(via Metafilter)

You Can't Own These Gaming Collectibles Either

NINTENDO POWER 100TH ISSUE GAME BOY POCKETA few months ago we had a laugh at bizarre overpriced video game collectibles such as a vintage Metroid Prime 2: Echoes cookie from 2004 and Sega Dreamcast GD-ROM burner, and now it's time to bring the car around for another scenic drive through the neighborhood of strange and expensive gaming-related objects.  This time Platypus Comix has dug up such oddities as a Commodore camera, art from a Superman / Pac-Man crossover, the E3 demo version of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a development system for the Lodgenet version of Nintendo 64 hardware, the Dr. Mario board game, and much more.


Remember the Super Power Supplies catalog that used to occasionally come with Nintendo Power? Did you ever glance at some of that stuff and think there was no way any of it would ever be valuable?

.....Yeah, that was me

eBay Price: $1,200

Proving that nothing is too far out of the realm of potential ownership, I had the deformed Mario stuffed figure seen near the bottom of the list when I was a kid, although mine wasn't quite so deformed.  He was definitely off-model though.  What does one expect from a prize at the arcade section of a mini-golf and go-kart center?  I still have him in storage somewhere, come to think of it.  Whether or not he's worth the $7.17 eBay price is up for grabs.

Build Your Own Aperture Science Test Chamber

Portal 2 editorDo you think that you can build an Aperture Science test chamber that would impress the meticulous GLaDOS?  Here's your chance to prove it.  Valve has released a beta version of the official Portal 2 editor that allows PC and Mac players to create their own maps (both single-player and co-op modes), character skins, 3D models, sound effects, and music.  Let the creativity run wild!

Today we're opening up the beta of the Portal 2 Authoring Tools to everyone! It's available as a free download for all owners of the PC version of Portal 2 and can be found under the "Tools" tab in Steam.

Here's what's included:
- Updated version of Hammer, the Source level editor
- Updated Faceposer
- Example maps and instances to help build new maps
- Updated suite of command-line compiling utilities

I do 3D design work at my non-gaming day job, so I'm tempted to give these tools a try and see what I can create.  It seems very time-intensive though, and all things considered, I'd rather be playing Portal 2 than building it.  If I do come up with anything, I'll be sure to share it, but in the meantime I think I'll just hold out for the upcoming downloadable expansion due out in the summer sometime.  If I were to create my own test chamber, I'd want to do a better job than just writing the word TEST on a wall and crafting a simple puzzle that requires just pressing a button in order to cause a cube to fall on a pressure plate. 

Power Button - Episode 38: The Super Terrific Happy Hour!

Power ButtonThis week's Power Button is another lost episode from the vault. Originally recorded on February 3, 2011 after the previous episode's doom and gloom, we at Power Button (that's Joey Davidson, Brad Hilderbrand, and me — Matthew Green — if you're a newcomer to our little program) decided to turn things around and do an entire show in which we only discuss games that we enjoy and genuinely make us happy.  This mirthful hour covers our thoughts on the games were playing that week such as Killzone 3, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, Kirby's Epic Yarn, and the Complete Works version of Mega Man 2.  Do we make it the entire show without expressing a negative thought?  You'll have to listen and find out.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via  and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons,@aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 38: The Super Teriffic Happy Hour!