Christmas light hero; everybody’s farming; and great holiday buys

What happens when you mix that famous house at Policarpio Street with Guitar Hero? Well, probably something that comes close to the house of Ric Turner in Burbank California, he aptly calls Christmas Lights Hero.
Already viewed more than a million times in less than a week on YouTube and on the blog Make  ( Turner’s house has made all other Christmas decorations look ordinary when compared to his.

Not only is it dressed in over 21,000 lights, it is also hooked to a Wii playing Guitar Hero. And like the kid in the video you just need to stand in the driveway with a guitar controller, and you can watch the game come to life across the whole house, including the yard and garage door.

A contractor for Disney Imagineering, Ric Turner used to be a special effects guy who was behind Disney’s theme park ride design so it’s not surprising where all his creativity came from.

According to the interview at Make, “Christmas Light Hero is using 7 light controllers from Light-O-Rama built from kits to control 21,268 lights and LEDs. Each controller has 16 outputs and 2-3 TTL level control inputs that are used by the game system to fire different programmed light sequences depending on what happens in the game.”

He continued: “It relies on the fact that the game sequence is very consistent. If the game and the lighting sequences start together, they will stay in very good sync through the length of the song.”

And just like the preparations he made playing the game via his house is far from easy, “A video screen is on the driveway showing the game video, but if you want to be on the high score list you have to make it through the whole game only watching the Christmas Lights. Even though the game is in ‘easy’ mode, the lights don’t provide the same timing detail as the game does, so it is much harder. Even expert Guitar Hero players have a hard time with the lights, and nobody has made it through without errors [yet].”

And out of consideration for his neighbors, the sounds are not as loud as the lights, but if you’re passing by, you can tune into the music with your car radio. He said, “When you play, you watch only the Christmas lights, but the audio you hear is from the Wii, so your flubs are broadcast for all to hear [people in cars can tune 99.1 and crank it up as loud as they want].”

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While farming may not rank high among anyone’s ambitions it certainly has become a part of to-do-list of people on Facebook—around 70 million of them.  Farmville (as if you’ve never heard of it), is a simple, cute game where players plant crops, raise animals and harvest them for profit, and has become one of the year’s most remarkable videogames.

It is the child of Mark Pincus, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based casual game company Zynga. Zynga’s is also responsible for that other gigantic game called Mafia Wars, and boasts a total of four entries in the social gaming Top 10. About one-fifth of Facebook’s users is active Farmville players and is responsible for converting millions of former nongamers. It also dwarfs 2009’s other great social breakout, Twitter.

The Farmville story, however, isn’t all that cute, as Pincus has been involved in quite a controversy after Techcrunch uncovered some quotes of his from one of his conference speeches. “I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away,” Pincus told attendees at the tech startup mixer. “I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it . . . We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business.”

Zynga’s now facing a class-action suit over allegations that some ads running in its games enticed users to sign up for “free trials” of services in exchange for in-game cash, only to find unauthorized charges on their bank accounts or credit cards. Last month, Pincus admitted on his personal blog that some of his company’s revenue-generating methods were proving problematic for his customers, and promised better policing of Farmville’s ads. Still, the controversy has barely affected users of Farmville as more and more new farms are created every day, just make sure to think a bit more before clicking away at just about everything. And if you think Zynga is slowing down, just check out their recent release called Petville, which has already racked up an audience of nearly 12 million.

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Datablitz games for the holidays Avatar 

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game is the official video game based on the highly anticipated film James Cameron’s Avatar. The video game will take you deep into the heart of Pandora, an alien planet that is beyond imagination. Gamers will encounter the Na’vi, Pandora’s indigenous people and discover other life forms the likes of which have never been seen in the world of video games before. When conflict erupts between the RDA Corp., a space-faring consortium in search of valuable resources, and the Na’vi, gamers will find themselves thrust into a fight for the heart of a planet and the fate of a civilization.

The Saboteur

Inspired by a true story, The Saboteur stars Sean Devlin, a street-tough Irish race car driver trapped behind enemy lines in 1940s Nazi-occupied France. Motivated by personal revenge, Sean fights, climbs and races through open-world Paris, sneaking into the heart of the Nazi operations and sabotaging their every move. With the help of the French Resistance, the British intelligence, an arsenal of weaponry, street smarts and brawn, players will extract revenge on those who aim to destroy Sean’s life. From derailing trains and blowing up zeppelins to scaling famous Parisian landmarks and more, this action hero uses a broad range of weapons, explosives and vehicles to get the job done.

“The Saboteur is an entirely new take on World War II action gaming. Instead of putting players in the role of a soldier, they’ll experience one man’s quest for vengeance through an incredible story and an epic range of explosive action. Every street of Paris is alive with options, every block is teeming with action,” said Josh Resnick, president of Pandemic Studios. “We’re extremely proud of The Saboteur. The art style, intense story, and grand acts of defiance against the Nazis will deliver the one-of-a-kind experience that Pandemic fans have been waiting for.”

As Sean takes down enemies, the citizens of Paris are empowered to resist the tyrannical Third Reich and their eyes open to the colorful world around them. This innovative mechanic, called the “Will to Fight,” will change the way Paris is seen and felt—from a dark and oppressed policed state to a bright and inspired world where the citizens fight back. As the player executes acts of sabotage against the occupying force, color returns to the stylized black and white world—both figuratively and literally. The “Will to Fight” spawns an underground resistance that takes players not only through Paris, but across various parts of France.

Kings Bounty Armored Princess

King\’s Bounty: Armored Princess is a sequel to the critically acclaimed King\’s Bounty: The Legend. Players will take on the role of Princess Amelie who travels around the world of Teana and searches for the renowned knight, and her mentor, Bill Gilbert. This new world of King\’s Bounty: Armored Princess is full of mysteries and dangers. The new character, the Princess, will encounter horrible creatures, huge monstrous bosses and a new race, the bloodthirsty Lizards. As in the multi-award winning first game, the player has many options to resist these new enemies. Various new skills and characteristics of Amelie as well as her chance to fly will help her overcome the hordes attacking the kingdom. The Princess is also accompanied by a Pet Dragon, at the very beginning small and amusing, but its abilities develop steadily until it becomes an incredible ally. He will do his best to protect the Princess during the battles, starting with easy blows and treasure hunting and finishing with battle rage and volcano summoning.
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