Hey Gamers: We're still going mainstream!

click to enlarge
click image to enlarge

See that picture? It’s a little resized, so let me tell you. It’s MSNBC.com‘s main page. And what you can navigate to through the “Tech & Science” menu? That’s right, Games! In a time when Video Games are the new Rock’n’Roll, and everyone else is condemning us for watching Lesbian Alien Porn (to quote DeaconBlade 360), MSNBC is finally embracing gamers and gaming.

CNN & FoxNews (the two other “24 hour news networks” here in the United States) aren’t featuring “Games” on either of their front pages – but we wouldn’t expect them to, as they spend their time bashing games. Perhaps it was more of a push from the “MS” half of the joint venture, but it feels good to know that someone out there is taking us more seriously, and looking for some postive stories, some good in it all.

It’s a multi billion dollar a year industry which is being studied more and more. Here’s to the concept of gamers not having to close the blinds and turn off the lights to indulge in a hobby!

Mega Man 9: 8-Bits of Fun?

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the new Mega Man title coming this Fall or Winter. Lots of confusion as to what platforms it will launch on. Wii-Ware has been confirmed, and Xbox Live Arcade is all but confirmed. But the other issues I am having all fall into different categories.

First: 8-bit? Really? I’m with Nintendo Wii Fanboy’s opinion that 8-bit game design is an art. I can appreciate that. But why does it seem so impossible to design a game with that classic platformer gameplay and do some cool graphics? Even using the Mega Man X “engine” (was it considered an “engine” in the days of side-scrolling sprites?) would be a nice little improvement. But it seems that every time somebody wants to gloss something up, visually, then they get side tracked trying to makea 3-D as well. Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project is one of my favorite good examples of combining old school play with more contemporary graphics and design.

Based on just a few screenshots, the experienced eye might guess that this Mega Man 9 will be loosely based around the Mega Man III (3) engine. I could be wrong – after all, I never got the Blue Bomber to “duck” or flatten-out like the screen shot above. Plus each of the Mega Man titles used to play just a little different, but if my prediction is right, you can get your reaction time fine-tuned by going back and playing the third installment.

My next gripe… er… question, comes along the lines of controls. If the game launches for Xbox Live Arcade, it seems pretty straightforward. But on the Wii? If they’re going with the classic game-design style, they simply must go with a classic control scheme. Holding the Wii Remote like a classic NES controller and going to town on it. I hope! If I have to wave my arms around like I’m Harry freakin’ Potter, I’ll be quite disappointed.

With all of that on the table, I’m still looking forward to Mega Man 9. It will be a great return to something classic, and I have confidence that, if anyone, Capcom can do justice to bringing back a classic franchise without malforming it “because they can” (are you listening, Nintendo? Mario doesn’t always need gadgets like water jets and star guns!). The saddest part about this article? We’ve still got months before we’re going to know anything more!

PS3 Firmware 2.40 requires a reformat? Sometimes…

We have been hearing about the strange problems with the PS3’s 2.4 update – available, working, exciting, trophy giving… then pulled from the PlayStation Network?

Little has been said about the problems, but users are starting to report their experiences. Kotaku reports that the fix requires a hard drive format. Isn’t that fun? Reinstalling all your games, losing your downloaded content and saved games… yikes! Sony is still remaining tight lipped, and hasn’t posted an update in almost 24 hours.

Here’s hoping for some good news for the holiday weekend in the USA – I think many people were looking forward to a long weekend of trophy hunting!

I hear that thar GOOZEX is better than GameStop?

UPDATE 11/11/2009: For a little while now, trade credits have been renamed to “TOKENS” in order to distinguish them from “POINTS” that the games cost. Other than that, the rest of this article is still pretty much the same!

note that this is a longer post than usual, but it’s all good information. plus I tried to split it up logically, if you would rather skip around.

You may have heard about this new fangled thing called “Goozex.” You may have heard from people who love it more than GameStop, or GameCrazy. But what is Goozex? How does Goozex work?

Well, if you want the details straight from the trusted source themselves, check out the companie’s website. But sometimes that’s not enough – so, even though I’ll be doing similar things, let me try and give you the full break down, as someone with some experience.

How a trade works:
You want to get a game:
“Buying” a game will use one “trade credit” (explained later).
You list games you WANT in a queue. You wait patiently in line until someone offers the game up for trade. If someone else has offered the game already, and you are first in line, then you can get the game almost instantly (this works well for older titles, like PS1, Xbox, Gamecube games). Once the right conditions are met (1: you have enough points, 2: someone is offering the game, 3: you are next in line to request the game) you are matched.
Once matched, the “seller” must accept or reject the trade. They have 2 24 hour periods in which to do this. If, after 48 hours, they do not accept the trade (or if they reject the trade) you are moved to the next “seller” in the que. SPECIAL NOTE: While it can be a long wait, waiting the full 48 hours ensures that the same “long wait” doesn’t happen to anyone else – if a “seller” does not accept or reject the trade in the allotted time, the game is removed from their “offered” list.

You have a game you want to trade away:
“Selling” a game costs you the expense of shipping
You list games you own and want to trade in a queue. If it is an unpopular game, and a lot of people are offering it, it can be hard to get rid of, and you may see the “point value” of the game fluxuate, but with patience, your game will be traded to someone else. Once you are matched with a “buyer” it is your job to ship the game – most preferably within 3 days. You do have to shell out the shipping costs (and will hopefully, at the very least, use a bubble envelope or some sort of protective packaging). The good news is, shipping costs have to be paid by the other sellers, too – nobody can charge you an unreasonable shipping fee (ala eBay).

It’s pretty easy, so far, right? I mean, there’s a lot of words up above, but you get what I’m saying, nothing out of the ordinary.

So how do POINTS work? The point system has been called flawed by some, but is loved by the majority. The basic formula is that 100 points = $5.00 (United States currency). This seems promising, as the lowest point value for a true game I have seen so far has been 100 points ($5) – meanwhile I have taken 7 games in to GameStop before and been offered less than $15 for the lot. The minimum you would get, here, would be 700 points, or $35 in value. Most new games are set at 1,000 points ($50). So, true, if you go out and buy, let’s say Grand Theft Auto IV, and it costs you $60, and you instantly put it up on Goozex, then you will be losing money. The point is that hopefully you’ve PLAYED your games first, and at least gotten that $10 value out of them. You can also purchase points directly from the Goozex system – with discounts for larger batches of points being purchased. SPECIAL NOTE: let’s say you happen to find a game on sale for $40, but it’s Goozex Value is 1000 points – then you come out ahead! The point system is based on “Supply & Demand” ratios of the Goozex system, not necessarily “fair market value.”
The down side: Game points fluxuate. If you list a game a 1,000 points, but nobody wants it until the price has dropped to 600, you’re stuck with getting 600. If you think that’s too low, you can only do one thing: when you receive notice that the point value of a game has changed, you can choose to de-list your game, or reject any “offers to buy” – same thing goes for raises in point values if you are waiting for a game – you can always remove it from your queue, if you feel that something gets “too rich for your blood.”

What are Trade Credits? What is this $1 per trade thing? Relax, you don’t have to pay to send a game to someone, apart from shipping costs. When you initiate a trade (request a game), you use one of your trade credits. Trade credits are a basic $1 / each, with a minimum purchase of five trades at a time. Again, discounts are given for bulk purchases of trade credits.

What about getting ripped off? Goozex has done some of the best work I’ve seen trying to protect you from that. While no system is perfect, Goozex is constantly revising to try and be fair to everyone.
As a seller, your biggest worry is shipping the game out, then having it reported as bad. This has happened to me. I’m currently in the process of trying to resolve it – my good feedback record will help, and they will ask the buyer to send pictures of the damaged goods TO Goozex, and they will be able to make impartial judgments. If a game is reported missing, then it is up to you to provide some form of tracking information to the contrary, which is why it’s always a good idea to get delivery confirmation, at the very least.
As a buyer, your biggest worry is asking for a game, and never receiving it or receiving a bad copy. This part is fairly easy – you have a certain number of days from the moment yout trade is accepted – at the end of those days, positive feedback is automatically left, so keep an eye on it. Usually with 1 day left is the best time to leave negative feedback, and hopefully you have tried contacting the seller (maybe they honestly forgot to ship it out! We all get side tracked someitmes!).
If you don’t receive the game, you select that box – then you get your points refunded. The rest of the responsability lies with the seller, to prove he or she shipped it out. If you receive a bad disc, a little photographic evidence shipped off to the folks at feedback@goozex.com, and some negative feedback, and you still come out on top.

While I have been in both situations, it has happened to me only one time each (no game received, and a buyer said my game was unplayable and scratched when I shipped it in perfect condition). I let the powers that be have the final say, but over all I have strong faith in the system. For all intents and purposes, I intend to continue to use Goozex for quite a while – it sure beats the $7 for 5 games I’ve been offered at other places, and the rediculous fees and charges of eBay and PayPal. I hope this has helped, and I also hope you consider signing up and using me as your referral – I get a trade credit. Then you can pass your link on to your friends! 🙂

*phew!! So then, I tried to be clear and helpful, but that was a LOT to cover. If you have more questions or need help clarifying something, contact me, or just leave a comment on this post (maybe others have the same question) and I’ll respond to it as soon as I see it!