Heroes over Europe appears on shelves.

It is very weird to see a product you had a hand in creating appear on shelves in a local brand name retailer.

I randomly went into EB Games on Swanston Street tonight, just around the corner from my apartment, and saw this on the shelves.

Heroes over Europe on display.

Admittedly these are just empty promo boxes but it is still weird to see Heroes Over Europe on shelves.  Especially since the project has been a marathon effort from hell for all those involved.

For better or worse I played a large part in the creation of the mission editor for this game. So if the missions suck, I’m at least partly to blame.  My heart goes out to all my awesome ex-coworkers at Transmission Games who are feverishly beavering away to finish it.

Essential World of Warcraft Addons & Websites.

Lately I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft.  I have to admit I’ve come pretty late to this party.  It seems there are 11.5 million or so other people enjoying the fruits of Blizzard Entertainment’s labour already.

I first tested the waters of WoW in 2005 and the game didn’t catch, however there is something about being unemployed for a little while that meshes well with the amount of time you have to commit to a game like WoW to get anywhere.  Also, since 2005 the game has been continuously updated and revised and it now seems like a much more streamlined entity.

Now even given this streamlining, the game still involes a lot of “grinding” in the early levels.  This can make the game a little tedious.  Especially considering that the “classic” content of levels 1-60 is considered quite inferior to the newer content of the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions by grizzled WoW veterans.

I’m still working my way through this grinding process with fairly low level characters and up until recently I had been doing so with just the stock WoW game.  I had not looked at any of the user interface add-ons available for WoW from sites like Curse.com.  However the other day I decided to check some out, and crikey do they make a difference.

Specifically the add-ons I’m using are Quest Helper and Cartographer 3. Basically they give you GPS and Google Maps style UI features within the WoW game environment.  Pointing you directly at quest objectives, ploting the most efficient routes to complete and turn in the quests you have and many other useful features.  They also plug-in fairly seamlessly to the existing WoW user interface and aren’t too hideous to look at.

The other night I decided to begin a new Alliance Paladin on an Oceanic Realm (my previous character was on a US Realm) and I’ve been using these add-ons extensively.  They seem to be greatly increasing the speed at which I can advance in levels.

Another resource I’ve been using a lot is the website WowHead.com.  Which of all the WoW related sites I’ve seen on the net seems to be the best put together and most useful.

So much to my own surprise, I’ve become quite a fan of WoW.  As I said previously, at first blush I didn’t think that much of it, but I can safely say that now I don’t resent the monthly subscription fee Blizzard charges my credit card each month.

You can’t change your billing country for XBOX Live.

Update: I’m not sure when the policy was changed (within the last 12-24 months probably) but you can now change your XBOX Live account region on the XBOX website. You are allowed to change your region once every 3 months.

Note that some content you previously bought in your original region may not transfer to your new region. Details are on the XBOX website.

Recently when trying to buy items on the XBOX Live marketplace my credit card started getting denied. In an effort to determine why this was happening, I visited Microsoft’s billing site. In doing so I discovered that it is impossible to change your billing country on that site. In fact during a telephone call to XBOX Live Support I was informed that the only way I could change my country was to create an entirely new XBOX Live Gamertag.

I originally signed up for XBOX Live back in 2002 when I lived in New Zealand. Subsequently I immigrated to Australia and in 2006 I bought an XBOX 360. Since I had been paying for XBOX live since 2002, when I signed in to my 360 with my existing Gamertag I was allocated a Gold XBOX Live Account.

At some point in the last two years I switched the credit card I was using for XBOX Live to a new credit card issued by my Australian bank. I probably updated my billing details via the account management blade on the XBOX. Using this new card I continued to buy game content in the Live marketplace. Everything was going fine until last week when it all stopped working.

So, after my conversation with XBOX Live Support it appears that my only options are to:

  1. Get a new Gamertag, which will stop me from using content tied to my existing Gamertag and reset my Gamerscore to zero!
  2. Buy Microsoft Points at brick and mortar retail stores.
  3. Use my old NZ credit card (which is difficult to pay now that I live in Australia).

None of these options are particularly appealing. In the end this whole experience has made me bitter and twisted about XBOX Live.

It seems that I’m not the only one in this predicament either.

The 1Up Show Rocks

If you like games then you will probably dig the 1Up Show. The 1Up Show and associated podcasts put out by 1Up everyweek are all part of John Davidson‘s plan to make the game group at Ziff Davis a multimedia juggernaut. Or something like that. The show is always funny, irreverent, and highly enjoyable. Basically the best gaming oriented “TV” out there. Well worth a watch. And besides, Kathleen Sanders is cute. 😉

PS, this blog post by John Davidson is all the explanation you need to tell you why “big media” is so lost when it comes to new entertainment mediums like Video Gaming and the Internet.