Microsoft Announces Xbox Academy

According to NerdMuch?, after announcing a Minecraft: Education Edition, Microsoft is looking to do some more educating themselves. To go along with their new program which allows anyone to develop games for the Xbox One, Microsoft is going to be holding ย three 3-hour classes in collaboration with the AIE (Academy of Interactive Entertainment). The classes will be based around game design, programming, and developing, and will be taught by teachers from AIE and will be taught using the Xbox One.

The classes are going to be held at the Microsoft Store in Sydney, Australia from April 10th to the 22nd. What is most exciting about this opportunity for aspiring designers is that the classes are FREE. Now it’s simply a matter of booking a two week trip to Australia. The classes are open to people of all ages, but it is said that they would like to catch interest of the younger generation and get them involved in game design.

What do you guys think of Microsoft’s latest idea? Are they just using stuff like this to get people to make games for them because they are lacking the exclusives of other systems? Or are they actually looking enrich a broader audience into make games? Let us know what you think the comments below or tweet @TheNerdChambers. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram as well!

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Thoughts on the Gwent PS4 Beta

So this past weekend PS4 owners finally got a chance to get their hands on the standalone version of Gwent, the incredibly popular card game that was a mini-game in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and boy was I ecstatic. I had about as much fun playing Gwent in the Witcher as I did with the actual story of the game. For those who have yet to play this card game, here is how the game works.

Players choose one of five factions and use a deck comprised of 25 cards. Each of the five factions has a different ability that coincides with it:

Skellige – Spawn 2 Clan an Craite Warrior units

Scoia’tael – Choose up to 3 cards in your hand and replace them with 3 randomly drawn cards from your deck

Monster – Create and play a unit version of Eredin

Northern Realms – Create and play a copy of a bronze unit on your side of the field. That unit keeps nay modifications to it

Nilfgaard – Choose a row on your side of the battlefield and all non-gold units in that row get their value changed to six

Once you choose your deck you can dive into the game. The way the game works is that players will draw 10 card from their deck and are allowed to redraw three of them before the game starts. After the redraw phase ends, there is a randomly generated coin flip to determine who goes first. Once this is all determined it becomes a fairly straightforward game, you play a card, then its the next person turn.

There are five different card types you will play in the game: melee, ranged, siege, special, and weather. The first three card types are combat cards and there is a row on the field of play for each of the three card types. With special cards they can do a variety of things like clear the effects of weather cards, destroy the strongest combat card on the field, or damage an entire row of enemies among other things. These are sort of like your spell cards in other card games. Finally the weather cards are cards that essentially render one of the three rows useless. They make each card in that row have a strength of 1.

The way the game is structured is fairly simple as well, first one to win two rounds is the winner. All you have to do to win the round is have more combat strength than your opponent. Now, here is where the strategy comes into the game. You do not get to draw every time its your turn, in fact, you barely get to draw any cards at all. After the first round you draw 2 cards and after the second round you draw one card.

So the strategy of the game becomes key as you do not want to over play one round because it can hurt you in others. Many of the combat cards in the game have effects that take place in the game. They range from adding strength to an ally, damaging enemies, to even resurrecting allies. This is also where having strong deck synergy comes into play because you want cards with similar effects or complimentary effects.

The Gwent Beta was a lot of fun and feels very rewarding when you play. You gain experience for winning games and can receive daily rewards based on the amount of rounds you win and what’s nice is that even if you lose the game but win one of the three rounds, it will still count toward your daily rewards. You will also earn in game currencies that will allow you to craft new cards and buy new cards as well, although in the beta for PS4 these features were disabled.

I cannot wait to dive deeper into Gwent as more technical tests come available, and we will be sure to keep you guys in the loop about upcoming tests.

Have you guys gotten your hands on the Gwent standalone yet? Let us know what you guys think in the comments below or by tweeting @TheNerdChambers. Don’t forget to like and follow us on both Facebook and Instagram as well!

MLB: The Show 17 Review

America’s past time gets its next installment from Sony San Diego with the release of MLB: The Show 17 and the Show just keeps getting better with age. I played last years iteration of the game extensively so I was looking forward to getting my hands on this years installment of the game.

This year’s game had a serious focus on adding more depth the each of the game modes that the Show offers, which are a ton. As always I started my playing experience with Road to the Show. If you guys did not get a chance to check out our previous post about the changes to Road to the Show, there was an awesome addition to the game mode that turns the experience into a documentary style of game with a narrator and all. Players now have interactions with coaches, scouts, and advisors where they will choose dialogue options that branch conversations into different directions. This was a really cool addition to make the experience of Road to the Show feel a bit more meaningful, however the only thing holding it back is it’s repetition in the encounters. For example, in my playthrough as a pitcher the pitching coach approaches me after nearly every game to have the same conversation about how well I have been doing at striking guys out. If it was not as frequent I wouldn’t be a bother but because it has been so frequent, it begins to get old. Other than that the Road to the Show experience is loads of fun as always and I will be grinding to get to the Hall of Fame with a pitcher and center fielder as I normally do.

As for the Franchise Mode, they made some nice additions as well. The coolest addition is the player lock feature, which allows players to choose a player on their team and play the games exclusively as that player. Want Kris Bryant to win back-to-back MVPs? Lock as him then you play every game of Franchise Mode as the Cubs star. Another new way to play franchise mode is through the quick manage mode. This allows players to choose how they want to approach each at bat defensively and offensively. Is it a tie game and your team is about to face Miguel Cabrera in the ninth? Then simply pitch around him and just hope he doesn’t end the game in one swing. What is awesome about the quick manage mode is that if you take that same scenario you can choose to jump into the game and play that scenario like a regular game. Then once you feel you are safe to continue quick managing you can go back to doing so without hassle. What is also really cool about this years Franchise Mode is that you are able to choose which aspects of running the organization you want to do and what you want done by CPU. Say you hate going through the scouting process and dealing with lineup management, with the new feature you can simply switch those to being automatically completely by hovering over that option in the main menu and hitting square. All of these features make Franchise Mode a great customizable experience that can be adjusted to what the player decides to do. The ease of being able to use all of these features is what truly makes it an overall better experience than last year.

Now for Diamond Dynasty. The competitive team-building game mode is back and better than ever this year. This year they added a couple new ways to play and earn cards for those who want to play against CPU and make their team better before diving into the online scene. Extra Innings is a game mode that allows you to pick another users team and play against it while AI is controlling the team you choose. You then adjust the difficulty and dive into the game. If you win, you will get rewarded with a random card that can be any rarity; however, if you up the difficulty of the AI, you get a high percentage of getting better cards. Another new way to play Diamond Dynasty is with events. Now, the first event does not begin until April 4th, but the way they work is that players will be given parameters as to how their team is to be structured and they then compete to be at the top of the leaderboard. They have yet to release the reward structure for competing in these events but they are sure to really help you build your team. Battle Royale, Conquest, and traditional online head-to-head matchups are all back this year and will give people another way to scratch that competitive itch.

These three game modes along with the addition of Retro Mode, where you play a nine inning game with simplified controls, MLB: The Show really does give you so many ways to play and have fun. Challenge of the Week gives players a fun way to earn some awesome physical prizes (the first week prize is a signed Louisville Slugger bat by none other than Ken Griffey Jr. himself), and modes like Postseason and Home Run Derby offer quick, simple game modes for those that like the exciting parts of the game.

Technically is where The Show has gone the extra mile this year. First off, the game plays at 60fps with little to no framerate drop that I have noticed and it makes the experience feel so much smoother. The amount of animations they have added to the game vastly improves the variation in the way people field as well which keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. Also with the smart AI added to the defensive players, people will no longer have to be worried about their shortstops taking too long to throw the ball as players adapt to the situations. If Billy Hamilton hits a ball to the shorstop, the shortstop will throw quickly because of the speed of the hitter, whereas, if a pitcher is running, the shortstop will take his time. The final piece to the gameplay was that there are now millions of possibilities of hit patterns now. Before you would see similar hit patterns within the same game, but now you will find new hit animations weeks after the games release.

SUMMARY

Sony San Diego, continues to show why MLB: The Show is the best sports game out there by continuing to grow the game technically and with more game modes. The gameplay is the smoothest it has ever been, and has more variation to make the game feel as realistic as it has ever been. The new ways to play in franchise mode and Diamond Dynasty enrich the game with seemingly endless ways to play. The only thing that I can say that is negative about the game is that the repetition in the narration in Road to the Show interactions gets a bit tiresome. Other than that, this game is a masterpiece and has set the bar incredibly high for other sports franchises to try and reach.

9.5/10

What do you guys think of this years iteration of America’s past time? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @TheNerdChambers!

The San Juan Sharks (Pre-Pack Opening)

Hey guys MLB: The Show is finally here! I am so excited to dive into the game and I will be sure to have a review out in the near future as I get my hands on all the different game modes and additions to the game. What I thought I would also do is sort of chronicle my Diamond Dynasty experience. This is a way for me to think through roster decisions and in-game decisions as well, so my hope is that you all benefit from seeing how my thought process works. To start we are going to work through our first five picks and overview the rest of the team as it gets auto-picked for us.

So with that it’s time to pick our first five players. My options for middle infield or catcher are Alex Avila (75), Tony Kemp (71), Jordy Mercer (71) and Nick Ahmed (72). The 2015 me would have instantly locked Avila because he has the best overall of the bunch, but I know better than to just judge off of overall now. Out of these four I actually end up going with Tony Kemp because he has the best contact rate against right-handers and is the only speed threat.

Next up is the corner infielders, my options are: Marwin Gonzalez (71), Adam Rosales (73), Joe Mauer (73), and Sean Rodriguez (73). So again I would be making the old me crazy, but I go with Marwin Gonzalez who has the worst overall again, however, he also has the best contact rate, solid homerun rate, and best speed of the bunch. Plus sacrificing a little bit of defense is worth the superior hitting.

Next up we have outfielders: Hyun Soo Kim (75), Danny Santana (70), Jorge Soler (75), and Byron Buxton (75). Who did I pick? You guessed it, Danny Santana. It was tough between him and Soler but Santana has better contact rate, vision, and speed. Soler only has better better power and a better arm defensively. Santana can also play five different positions so that kind of versatility is great for a guy that can get good contact and steal. The other two are specialists and that is not the sort of thing I care for in my fielders/hitters.

Now for the starting pitchers: Chris Capuano (72), Adam Conley (75), Christian Friedrich (72), and Aaron Blair (70). So this time I do go with the highest overall in Adam Conley. He is a lefty pitcher with the best combination of velocity, control, and break. He also had the best H/9 and K/9 so despite losing out on a few points in BB/9, I feel it will definitely be worth it. I was also considering Aaron Blair because he had the best velocity and break, but I would have been sacrificing too much control.

Then we have the relievers: Keone Kela (79), Cam Bedrosian (79), Joe Smith (79), and Jake Diekman (78). All pretty solid choices for a start up reliever. For my relievers, I love fireballers that can just get people out by blowing a fastball by them, so I decide to go with Jake Diekman here. Maxed out velocity, 93 break, and 92 K/9 pretty much tell the story with this pick.

The rest of the team was then auto-picked for me and I have to say I like the team. My rotation is Trevor Bauer (high stamina, velocity and break), Robbie Ray (lefty with high K/9), Conley, Kyle Gibson (high stamina, velocity, break, and 62 BB/9 is best in the rotation), and Colin Rea (one of the best H/9 rates in rotation and a 5 pitch mix).

My bullpen is definitely where I will need the most help going into my pack openings as the next best reliever I have after Diekman is Bobby Parnell (73) and my last reliever is a 58.

My starting lineup looks pretty solid so far:

1. Danny Santana (SS) (good contact rate, baserunning, and little cold zones)
2. Marwin Gonzalez (1B) (good contact rate, decent power, and good speed for 1B)
3. Lorenzo Cain (CF) (great contact, clutch, fielding, and speed) (got him from a loyalty pack once I got the servers to work for me)
4. Joc Pederson (RF) (great power, maxed discipline, solid fielding and good speed, but bad contact and stealing)
5. Mike Napoli (LF) (good power and contact vs lefties, near maxed discipline)
6. Asdrubal Cabrera (2B) (Good contact and power vs righties, good bunting)
7. Geovany Soto (C) (good power and discipline)
8. Kike Hernandez (3B) (does everything except bunt solid and steal (everything else is 50+) and is very versatile (6 positions))

My team right as it stands right now is a 74 overall with my best squad attribute being pitching then defense.

Let me know what you guys think of all this. Am I just wasting everyones time with this or is this something that interests you? Comment below or tweet us @TheNerdChambers. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram as well!

Sega Announces Valkyria Revolution

In a Playstation Blog post earlier today, Will Chan of Sega took to announcing that a “spinoff” of Valkyria Chronicles is going to be coming to the Americas. Valkyria Revolution is going to be the next chapter of the Valkyria games but it is not going to be taking place in a World War II setting. “Instead of a World War II influence, the game is inspired by the European industrial revolution and focuses on a war of liberation between two vastly different nations,” Chan explains. It looks like this will not be a sequel or even the same universe as he adds “It takes place in a whole different timeline, continent, and universe than its predecessors, but familiar elements โ€” such as the precious mineral ragnite and the legendary beings known as the Valkyria โ€” make a return.”

For those who have never played Valkryia Chronicles (which is a mistake and you should play it) the game has a great blend of storytelling, role-playing, and strategy all in one. The game is a unique experience and blends genres together very well. Unfortunately it looks like the hand-drawn art style will not be making a return in this iteration of the series as they replace it for a more traditional JRPG graphic style. It also looks like turn based combat will not be making a return to the series, “The turn-based action has been replaced with faster-paced (but no less strategic) combat. This hybrid battle system combines the tactics of customizing squad behavior and loadouts with real-time action for some pretty intense moments on the field,” Chan states.

Valkyria Revolution is set to hit stores physically for PS4 and digitally for PS4 and PS Vita on June 27th.

What do you guys think of the changes Sega is making to the Valkyria series? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @TheNerdChambers. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram as well!

Power Rangers Review

WARNING SOME MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY PIECES OF THE FILM SPOILED FEEL FREE TO READ THE SUMMARY AT THE BOTTOM.

They are finally back! Jason and the team from the original Power Rangers TV series are back to take on Rita Repulsa, this time on the big screen. As a lifelong Power Ranger fan I must say I could not wait to get a chance to watch this movie. Here are my thoughts without spoiling major plot points of the story.

The first portion of the film is very awkwardly paced. The first couple of scenes are done pretty well in all honesty, but after that it almost feels like the movie gets sped up to the point where they find the ship and become Power Rangers. What did not help this is that they did all of this without building their main characters. We learn bits and pieces about Jason early on because it is seen through mostly his perspective but not enough to really make audiences connect with him. Although he and Kimberly get the most screen time, or at least it feels like they do, they actually do a better job of building the other three characters and making them feel relatable.

There is a moment in the film that you actually get to see the Rangers all together and talking about their problems in life and when it came to Jason and Kimberly they both avoided talking all together. At least with Kimberly they do eventually have her talk about her past with Jason but Jason never has his moment of releasing all his demons which made him feel a little empty as a character. For much of the film it almost seems like it was leading to some sort of romantic moment between Jason and Kimberly but we never get to see that happen despite the first trailer of the film showing them kissing. This almost makes it feel pointless having so many moments just with Jason and Kimberly together and basically keeping their secrets between the two of them.

The best performances that came out of this movie were from R.J. Cyler who plays Billy/Blue Ranger, and Becky G who plays Trini/Yellow Ranger. They do a great job of making their characters who have real life issues feel genuine and relatable. The performances by these two however get drowned out by Ludi Lin’s Zack who just feels like too much of a wild card character and was not very believable, and the lackluster Jason and Kimberly. That may be my biggest quarrel with the movie is that Dacre Montgomery does not command the screen and feel like much of a leader even though he is the Red Ranger.

The last thing I will bring up is that the film was having trouble distinguishing itself. For parts of the movie it was very serious and had mature, realistic problems and I really enjoyed the fact that they were making the Power Rangers into more than just a kid’s action movie; however, the movie gets dragged down by some juvenile, cliche writing during action sequences.

SUMMARY

It may have not sounded like it with some of the negatives I have throughout this review, but I thoroughly enjoyed Power Rangers. It is a fun movie and has flashes of being a more young adult version of the famed franchise, but it occasionally gets brought back to its cheesy roots. All in all this is a movie that struggles from having an identity crisis. As a fan of the franchise I am hoping an extended version of the film comes out when it gets released for home formats because I would like to see if the film had a stronger identity before the editing process. With that said though, this is a review of the theatrical cut. I give the film a 6.5/10ย because it is an fun movie that suffers from a lackluster lead character and struggles between young adult adventure movie and the kids show of it’s origin.

 

PS4’s 4.5 Update Has Changed More Than We Thought

For the past couple weeks I have been having occasional connection problems with certain games on my PS4 and I thought it was just that the new router we got at my house seeing as that always tends to be the reason behind connectivity issues in my experience, but this time it was different. My internet speeds were doing fine so I knew it had to be something else. Upon looking into the Sony Support Forums, there is a massive thread with over 200 posts on it with people having problems connecting to PSN after the 4.50 system update.

Players have been getting the error code WS-36724-2 and Polygon reached out to Playstation reps and were told that the issue is being looked into. For those afflicted by the bug unfortunately it doesn’t sound like they have an answer quite yet. We will keep you guys updated on this story as we learn more.

Has this network issue been affecting your ability to play Mass Effect or Overwatch all day like me? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheNerdChambers. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram as well!