A Gamer's FAQ to Bible Navigator X

On Tuesday, LifeWay announced the development of Bible Navigator X for the XBOX 360, via the Indie Games Channel and XNA.  In the next few weeks we'll be talking more about the application on HCSB.org and BibleNavigatorX.com but, since a lot of the gaming sites have picked up the news, I wanted to be able to answer some questions specifically for you. 1) Why only the XBOX 360? B&H is producing this via the XBOX Live Indie Games channel; the other consoles and handhelds don't offer a similar toolset.  While we would be interested in developing for those platforms, the opportunities simply aren't there right now for us. 2) What is the HCSB? HCSB stands for the Holman Christian Standard Bible.  It's one of the most modern transalations, and one of only two Bible translations (the other is the NET Bible) to have been done utilizing computers.  It's a cross-denomination translation, with 17 denominations represented on its translation team.  You can learn more at HCSB.org. 3) What does the 'X' stand for? B&H already has a product called Bible Navigator for the PC.  We wanted to keep the name of the product line and, since this is currently and XBOX-only project it seemed fairly obvious to call it Bible Navigator X. 4) Will I need a patch to read the text in SD? Nope; we'll let you control the font size on Day 1.  That's a part of the nuts and bolts of our app.  ;-) 5) Will there be Achievements or DLC? Sorry, but unfortunately no.  Those features aren't available on Indie Games.
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Bible Navigator X: Fulfilling a Dream

As cheesy as it sounds: I love my job. There are goals that you set for yourself in life that you hope to attain, and there are goals that you put before yourself that you place there for the sheer audicity of it all, knowing that it's not something that will ever happen.  Like flying to the moon, adopting a pet dragon, or helping to put the very words of God into a medium that it's never been in before. Today my team announced that we will be bringing the HCSB translation of the Bible to the Xbox via Bible Navigator X.  This has been a dream of mine for since the XBOX 360 launched and they announced that there would be downloadable games.  Way back when it first came out, in 2005, I managed to actually get someone on the phone at Microsoft to see if we could partner with them to make something happen.  At the time, there was simply no way to make it work within their ecosystem... especially since it wouldn't be a game. So, fast forward 4 years, and God somehow places me in the book publishing division of LifeWay, where we publish the Bible.  And, not only that, but B&H is an honest-to-goodness inovator in the digital publishing space and, even in this economy, is willing to take financial risks if it means spreading the Good News of Christ.  So, when I asked if we could explore putting the Bible on the XBOX, my coworkers and boss actually said "yes." So, to begin my quest of making it happen, I posted out to a game developer's forum asking how I might connect with someone to freelance a project.  Lo and behold, I was found by Andy Dunn - a fairly well known developer in the XBOX community.  Someone whose stuff I read back in the day when I was trying to code my own XBOX wares. Andy and I struck up a conversation, outlined what the application would look like, and we went to town.  His wisdom was, quite honestly, astounding.  I've learned more about the game/app development process from him than I ever expected to know.  But there was still that nervousness... is this really going to work? If you've got a dream, you'll have spent hours thinking about it in your head, hoping that some day the reality might be even a sliver of that dream.  In these past few weeks, as Andy has dropped a build to me every few days, it has almost freaked me out.  This is the very first version of Bible Navigator X, our first go at putting this most sacred content onto a video game system... and it work with the medium so perfectly.  It feels natural and nice; like the XBOX was made to host the Bible. In short, reality suprassed what I had dreamt up in my head. I feel almost foolish and childlike, gushing about how exciting this is for me and how much I love my job that allows me to see dreams come true.  I have a renewed interest in spreading the Gospel of Christ, now that it's in a medium that my peers can connect with.  I have a brand new level  of respect for the scholars and wise men who translated the Greek and Hebrew into what we call the HCSB translation... and the programmers and developers who translated that into XML and code. And, I'm not trying to wax philosophically here... I'm just finally able to get out words that I've had to keep secret for so long, I feel like a huge burden has been lifted.  It's not every day that you get to be aware of being a part of God's plan.  It's not every day that you know your actions could - litearlly - impact millions.  This is one of those things that I'll tell my children about, and I will tell their grandchildren, and so on and - hopefully - so on. Excited.  That's how I feel.  I hope you didn't mind my shoutting it from the internets.
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My "The Firmware Update Broke my PS3's Blu-Ray Drive" Story

Last night, after installing an official firmware update to my Playstation 3, my system's Blu-Ray drive stopped working (it won't read any media: Blu-Ray, PS3 game, or DVD).  A quick Google search on the issue pulled up this blog post from the official US Playstation Blog:   http://blog.us.playstation.com/2009/09/ps3-firmware-update-v3-01-now-available/   On this post there are over 700 comments, many of which talk about users' Blu-Ray drives ceasing to work (with only one reply in the thread, mentioning how it fixes issues with a specific game).  Since I added my comment on the thread last night (#759), 8 of the ten comments made overnight were in regards to issues with the Blu-Ray player.   I called the customer support line today and had three conversations:   1) Eva (first level support, did not think to get her ID#)
  • Because my system is out of warranty, it would cost $150 to be serviced
  • Warranty is only 1 year from purchase date; even if you are one year in, w/o a receipt they would charge you $150
  • According to Eva, my phone call regarding 3.01 breaking the Blu-Ray drive is the first they have ever recieved
  • According to Eva, the official blog is just a place to post thoughts and comments; the fact that there was a post with hundreds of comments regarding this issue did not matter at all
2) Jason, #474009 (Eva's supervisor)
  • To have the system tested by them to discover if the firmware caused the issue, I would have to pay the $150 service fee
  • I asked Jason if I could quote him on this, and he agreed: "Even if the firmware caused the issue, you would have to pay the $150 service fee"
  • Jason told me that even if the firmware update caused the issue, they would still charge me $150 to have the system repaired; there would be no refund of the service fee
  • When agreeing to a firmware update, you agree that if the firmware causes any damage to your system, Sony is not responsible
3) Vance, #47083 (Jason's supervisor)   At this point I explained to Vance that I wanted to be sure I had all of my facts straight for when I shared my story.
  • According to Vance, Sony is unaware of any issues with 3.01 causing issues with the Blu-Ray drive
  • Sony did extensive testing before the release of 3.01 - he is unaware of any testing regarding the Blu-Ray drive issue since its release
  • If the Blu-Ray drive failure did become a documented issue, he does not know if they would refund any service fees
  • There is no way for him to service the system for free, regardless of whether it was caused by the firmware or not, because I have owned the system for two years
  • There is nothing more that I can do to let Sony know that 3.01 firmware caused the Blu-Ray drive to stop working  
It is appearant to me that Sony's firmware update has caused this exact issue in a number of Playstation 3 systems, and that they are ignoring the issue.  I find it hard to believe that mine was the first phone call they have recieved on this issue, as was told to me.  I also find it hard to believe that they expect me to pay $150 to repair something that they broke, and that they have no interest in testing my system to find out if the firmware caused the issue. Does anyone have suggestions on what I can do to better let Sony know that the 3.01 firmware caused my system's Blu-Ray drive to stop working?
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Innovation at E3: levelHead

In my previous post about this year's E3, I mentioned that one of the most enticing things for me when buying a video game is having new experiences.  This fall, the Xbox gets a whole facelift, which excites me.  The PS3 is getting LittleBigPlanet, the gaming reason I bought a PS3.  And then, after all the news from last week is starting to settle down, I discover this gem: levelHead. [youtube=http://youtube.com/w/?v=5ks1u0A8xdU] Now that's a new experience.  The concept is so strikingly simple and yet, I am mesmerized.  This is simply incredible stuff.  It's going to be for the PC, but I could easily picture Sony picking up for the PS3.  This seems like the direction they're heading in, and would be a great fit along side Eye of Judgment and artistic like flOw. Please, someone pick this up and make it available.
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Red Ring of Death

There are four words that any Xbox 360 owner fears may come to visit their system: Red Ring of Death. I knew the signs that foreshadowed their coming; last weekend while playing Rock Band the Xbox froze.  It had never done that before.  When I turned it back on, everything seemed to work... but there was no video.  No video?  Oh, the horrible seed that was planted in my mind.  Surely, I had done everything right to stave of this spector of evil. I tried turning the system off and then back on - and everything worked.  Hours of Rock Band were played that day. Today, while doing the menial task of streaming "Frasier" video the XBox's Media Center Extender function (turning the xbox into, basically, a dvr), it froze again.  Same deal.  I turned if off.  When it came back on, no video.  Turn it off, wait a few moments... turn it back on and everything worked just fine. Ashley's episode of Fraiser was over and she went downstairs to make one of our favorite dishes, which I call "the noodley thing."  Basically, noodle and spices and cheese and chicken.  So I fire up Rock Band, working on the last leg of the solo drum "hard" gigs. It froze again.  The reality set in.  I stared at the Xbox, not wanting to know what would happen.  I turned it off.  Waited.  Turned it on:


The horror of red staring me in the face, taunting me with it's evil electrical glare.  Blinking, flashing to get my attention.  Like I didn't see you, Red Ring of Death!  You, who swoop down from mysterious origins, held at bay by proper air flow!  What did I do wrong to deserve you?  Your electrical current is stable and even!  You rest side ways, surrounded by free air!  You should not be here, you vile symbol of death and destruction! And yet, here you are.  I reject you, Red Ring of Death.  You will be exorcised from the circuitboard of my faithful 360 by the nice techs who work for your maker.  Oh, 1-800-4MYXBOX, your promises of safe passage for my beloved box of virutal worlds must hold steadfast and true! You were one of the first off the assembly line, turned over to my service even before launch due to the power of HEX168.  Fly with the speed of Kazooie, be protected by the guns of Master Chief, and let not your promises of safe return be simply a Fable.  Be this not a goodbye, but a new, healthier, less heat-enduced stress beginning!
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E3 2008: My Opinions

Pardon the geekiness of the post, but... if you know me then you know that as far as my hobbies go they are wrapped up in video games and comic books.  So, for me, E3 is one of the most important "entertainment" events of the year for me.  Basically, it's the week where all the big publishers trot out their upcoming releases for the remainder of the year and a little beyond. The biggest news usually always comes out of the big three press conferences: Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.  The nature of the video game marketplace is very competitive, with people investing their time and money into usually one system or another and wanting their chosen system to have the best showing and "win."  However, since my dad was a 'gamer' before there ever was the term 'gamer,' we've usually always had all the systems in any given generation (Atari and Intellivision, Sega Master System and NES, etc etc). Now that I'm older anad on my own, well... that hasn't changed.  I won the 360 through a contest, the Wii was bought on day one, and we got a PS3 because it was the cheapest blu-ray player... and anticipation of LittleBigPlanet.  So, for me, seeing what was presented at the press conferences basically sets up what I'm going to be playing for the next 6-8 months or so.  Microsoft Microsoft's Xbox Press Conference was, imho, the 'winner' this year.  For me, the most important part of gaming is having new experiences.  I've literally been gaming my whole life, so innovation is important.  This fall, Microsoft is recreating the Xbox software, changing the dashboard and adding new features.  What's the real innovation? Xbox Primetime Appearantly, there's going to be set gaming times where people can come together to play a game show like 1vs100.  The idea is that one person will get picked to actually be the contestant... and actually win stuff for real.  Instead of just watching 1vs100, you literally get to be a part of the mob.  Color me impressed.  Basically, Microsoft just created an entirely new genre of games, and redefined what we will come to call "episodic gaming." What else did the announce to take up my time?  Fable 2 is going to rock my world.  In this game, everything effects everything.  You can buy any house, save - or kill - any character, etc etc.  Viva Pinata 2 will likely do a repeat of 2006 and manage to literally steal 3 full days of my life.  They also announced "You're in the Movies" which seems... interesting.  Basically, you play mini-games with the camera, and then the game pulls out the video of you playing the game and makes a movie out of it.  Could be a blast... could be a bomb.  I'm interested enough that I'll give it a look... if I can buy it w/o buying another camera. Nintendo Oh, Nintendo.  How you wound me.  I bought the Wii with such high expectations.  I dreamt of wonderful gaming, new experiences and pure, unadulterated fun.  You delivered akward gameplay and Dreamcast/Gamecube graphics.  Zelda was fun.  Thanks for that. So this year, I had high hopes.  The Wii has been around for awhile.  Animal Crossing was due to be revealed, and surely they had some suprises.  And then... you bombed.  You failed.  It was almost embarrassing. Wii Sports 2 was announced, with a new add-on to the controller that makes it do what the Wii should have always done: let you have sword fights.  This does look good... but doesn't come out until the Spring.  And you've burned me enough already... so you'll need more than swordfighting in Wii Sports 2 to interst me.  (I say that now... but c'mon.  It's sword fighting.  I'm buying it.) Animal Crossing for the Wii is starting to show the limitations of the Wii.  Their online service is just way too lackluster.  It's almost painful, guys.  No central server, only 4 (i think) people in a town at a time.  And you need to let me do more than go fishing with my friends.  Sigh.  That's it for the highlights that interested me.  You guys fumbled big time. Sony Sony had a very strong showing this year.  Resistance 2 almost has me more interested than Gears of War 2 (for the Xbox) does... I'll only be buying on this fall.  I might actually have to take reviews into consideration. LittleBigPlanet is, hands down, the gaming reason I bought a PS3.  They used it in the conference to show off their numbers and data.  I cannot wait until the first time I get to make a presentation at work on "interactive media" and end up using LittleBigPlanet to do it. Sony also showed a preview of what could have made them win the show for me... but they didn't announce any kind of release for it.  DC Universe Online is going to pick up where Microsoft fumbled (they cancelled their Marvel online game).  It's going to steal my life when it comes out.  Jim Lee on stage sealed the deal for me.  DC Universe, by itself, could make Sony the winner at next year's E3.   So...  I now get to sort out what I will be playing the next few months (outside of Rock Band 2).  It looks like Microsoft will be getting the most of my time and money, with Sony coming in  strong second.  Nintendo?  Step up your game, please.  I want to like you again.
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Hollow Gamerscore Points: Rock Band and the Pixies

My buddy Kris and I have played Rock Band far too much.  Last night, I purchased the Pixies Doolittle album for it (mmm... such good music!).  While joyously reliving my teen years through the album, we were jamming out to one of the tracks, "Silver," when we decided to try it on expert (we usually play on hard, with the occasional expert setting). 'Silver,' on Rock Band, on Expert, on the drums, is quite possibly one of the easiest songs in the game.  And, for my efforts, I got 100% on the song.  And the first 100% you get on expert comes with a little chime:

Oh, the torn emotions!  On one hand I was estatic because it's an achievement I've been working hard for, furthering my drumming skills since we got the game.  But... I feel like it's a hollow victory.  I didn't get the achievement from doing the hard work that it suggests!  I will always feel empty with these 10 pts, because it feels like I should have done more to earn them.  Alas, alas. (But I have to admit... it feels good to have unlocked it, within the confines and rules of acquisition.  So if you're fed up and need to unlock this achievement... go buy Silver.  You, too, will earn the hollow victory that will now plagues my conscience.)
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Top 5 Free Xbox Live Arcade Games that I Want to See

Occasionally, Microsoft lets loose a few Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) game, such as the horrible Yaris, the briefly free Texas Hold-em and the Camera-Only TotemBall.  Here are the top 5 games I want Microsoft to make free for the community. 1) Magic: The Gathering Starter Kit What is it: Magic the Gathering singlehandedly created a business in the collectible card game.  I was there almost when it started, buying packs of Antiquities.  Players build decks and fight it out using a a handful of the thousands of cards available in the world.  Unfortunately, all digital attempts have not been nearly as successful. What the Community Gets: Give us the tools, the software, and a tournament-legal starter kit.  The first hit is free, and after that we will buy pack after pack and deck after deck.  This one is a complete no-brainer.  The only problem is that Wizards of the Coast may not want to play nice with MS.  Solution: MS should just buy them, and in turn own the ips of MANY successful franchises, including Dragonlance, HeroScape, etc.  Would Hasbro sell? What Microsoft Gets: Millions of dollars in digital sales of random decks and packs.  Run special promotions where past sets are available only one month out of the year.  Create special promo packs featuring MS characters.  This would be a major win if it was a first-party release. 2) You Have to Burn the Rope What is it: One of the best commentaries on gaming, ever.  Go, now. What the Community Gets: Achievement Unlocked: You Burned the Rope.  200pts. What Microsoft Gets: Build it in XNA, turn it into a marketing piece. 3) MMO Pong What is it: Pong controlled by the average input of all users in the game... truly social gaming. What the Community Gets: A giant way to waste time.  Imagine a giant hall of voices.  Or the background made up of images fed from the XBox Cameras.  Yes, it's just a time waster... but sometimes that's all you need.  Or, perhaps this could just be the loading screen for an online games? What Microsoft Gets: A live test bed for connections.  They can test the stress of how many concurrent connections can happen in a game before hiccupping.  How many audio feeds, video feeds, etc.  Who doesn't love live statistical data? 4) Zork HD

What is it: Zork, a text-based game, was first released in 1980.  Essentially, it hearalded the way for interactive fiction and storytelling via digital gaming.

What the Community Gets: A trip down memory lane and a piece of gaming history.  Plus, an actual gaming use for the Chatpad.

What Microsoft Gets: A second round of marketing for the Messenger Kit.  Surely it couldn't take THAT much effort to convert Zork to an Arcade title?  Would definately generate more interest and noise from the gamer community about the messenger kit than any magazine or web ad would.

5) Zune Store

What is it: ok, so it wouldn't really be an arcade game, but more of a utility.  If I can stream any song I want to my computer when I have a Zune Pass, and my Zune Pass is tied to my GamerTag... why can't I straight stream via the XBox, too?

What the Community Gets: A great way to create playlists on the xbox for background listening.  Just load up a playlist from ANY song on the service, save it, and the Xbox become the center of any party involving music.

What Microsoft Gets: More Zune Passes sold, and deeper integration between the Xbox and Zune communities.  If you have the Zune software installed, Microsoft could push you playlists for the music of any upcoming game easily...

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now contributing at...

I'm now contributing at the digital.leadnet.com blog.  I got to interact with it's curator, DJ Chuang after the Q Conference earlier this year (I really need to finish up my series on that... where did my notes go?) and, in an effort to be a little more intentional with my time, mentioned contributing for him at the site.  He took me up on the offer, and there we go!I'll probably keep up with those posts here the same way I do with my Threads posts... give a teaser and then let you click on through if you're interested.  So, without further ado, my first digital.leadnet post! *** I attend a church with a lot of artists - singer/songwriters, video producers, and actual painters/illustrators. Throughout our Sunday Mornings we often try to find ways to utilize them in some form or fashion during the worship service, so they have a time and place to give back some of their talents to God. However, we also have some technical-minded people: programmers, database analysts, and web designers. It doesn't always seem fair that they don't get to find an outlet for their skills and talents to be used for worship or discipleship. click for the rest  
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What do I Really Want?

I’m stuck with a “hard” decision. Let’s just be honest for a bit here and expose my struggle: the thing that I’ve been wrestling with the past few nights out to the ether of the internet: should I, or shouldn’t I, buy a PlayStation 3? This shouldn’t be such a spiritual struggle, should it? I mean… it’s just stuff, right? continued
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the merger

TechTV and G4 are merging. And that's today's stunning news in my tech world. According to the site (g4techtv.com) all the good techtv shows will still be around - the screen savers, anime unleashed and unscrewed... but still; it was great to have choices. it'd be kind of like marvel and dc merging. just feels like something's not right in the world.
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