Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Buy Games From Steam, Uplay, Origin or Any Other International Online Store : A Guide For Young Indian Gamers


Not very long ago, Indian gamers faced a lot of difficulties buying games from the Steam, the leading platform for PC video games, as the vast majority of us prefer to use the domestic payment method. This problem was because of some server issues with Novaplay as illustrated in this article. What to do when this doesn't work?

I started looking for the most convenient and easiest way to make international payments and found virtual debit cards to be the most suitable to tackle this age-old problem. Debit cards are currently the fastest mode of payment on Steam. First I tried digibank by DBS. But it didn't quite work out as planned. Finally I found a wonderful solution: The Kotak 811 App!

 

You would need to have your Aadhaar and PAN details with you when you setup the account. Within minutes, you will be able to submit all the necessary details for creating your own brand new Zero Balance savings bank account :) !

However, the virtual debit card will not immediately start working after you add funds to your account. Please wait for 48 hours within which you will be notified about the activation of your account.

The good thing about this is that the Visa virtual debit card available through the app comes pre-activated for international transactions and all you have to do is wait for the notification SMS about the activation of your account. Its usually takes around 30 hours for activation after you have submitted all details through the app. No need to go to the bank anymore! In case of other digital banking apps, you would have to wait for biometric verification via bank agent and also request activation of international transaction usage of the cards.

After you receive the confirmation SMS from Kotak, you can now start using your virtual debit card on Steam. Steam charges(a temporary transaction) an Indian rupee amount equivalent to an US dollar according to current exchange values in order to verify that you have funds in your card. So make sure you have funds in your new account before you add the card on Steam.

UPI is now the easiest way to transfer funds. Check out this comprehensive website to know why. I would suggest my fellow Indian gamers to maintain only a minimal amount in this new Kotak 811 account and use UPI to add funds from your main domestic bank account as and when needed.


You can also use this virtual debit card if you want to transact using your own PayPal account on various international online game stores! Kotak charges ₹1 for using the 3D Secure service in order to add the card to your PayPal account.

Hope this helps young Indian gamers to no longer depend solely on the domestic method of payments on Steam. Anyone with a valid Aadhaar and PAN can now buy internationally online! Happy Gaming :) !

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Portrayal of Indian Culture, The Tusk of Ganesh and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Criticism in an early stage is really sad news because a lot of hard work and love goes into the making of these brilliant masterpieces of games from Naughty Dog. As a long time reader of ancient mythological stories and as a passionate gamer, I'm quite happy about how they have revealed the origin of the legendary Tusk of Ganesh so far in their upcoming game, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

 


It can be noted that the idols and pictorial representations of Ganesh, the elephant faced deity, are all generally shown to have a single tusk, while the other is shown broken.




 There are some completely different legendary stories about how Ganesh lost his tusk:
                 
The most popular story as to how Ganesh lost his tusk is as follows:

1. Vyās and Ganesh

In the first part of the huge epic  Mahabharat, it is written that the sage Vyās asked Ganesh to transcribe his compositions as soon as he dictated them to him. Ganesh agreed, but only on the condition that Vyās recite them uninterrupted, without pausing. The sage, in his turn, posed the condition that Ganesh would not only have to write, but would have to understand everything that he heard before writing it down. In this way, Vyāsa might recuperate a bit from his continuous talking by simply reciting a difficult verse which Ganesh could not immediately understand. The dictation began, but in the haste of writing, Ganesh's feather pen broke off. To proceed transcribing without interruption, Ganesh broke off one of his own tusks and started using it as a pen, permitting him to keep his word. This symbolically explains that any amount of sacrifice isn't sufficient enough to gain knowledge.

2. Parshuraam and Ganesh
  
Brahmanda Purana has a completely different story for the origin of Ganesh's broken tusk. It seems once, Parshuraam went to Mount Kailash to see Shiva. Shiva was at that time asleep. Ganesh , who was guarding the room of Shiva, did not allow Parshuraam inside.

Parshuraam, an ardent devotee of Shiva, was furious. A battle ensued between Ganesh and Parshuraam and in this battle, Ganesh lost one of his tusks because of the axe of Parshuraam which had been gifted to him by Shiva.

3. The Moon and Ganesh

There is yet another story connecting the moon to the loss of one tusk of Ganesh. This is as follows: Once on a Vinayaka Chaturthi, Ganesh got a very large offering of very tempting Modaks. He ate all that was offered and being unable to walk with a heavy belly, mounted on his mouse. Suddenly a snake appeared from the forest. The mouse on whom, Ganesh was riding was terrified at the sight of a snake and started running away. Naturally Ganesh fell  and his belly broke slightly. Not loosing his presence of mind Ganesh caught hold of the snake and tied his belly tightly.Chandra(the moon), who was seeing all this laughed at Ganesh. The short tempered Ganesh became very angry, broke one of his tusks and threw it at the moon.
               
The Moon broke in to pieces. Ganesh also cursed the moon, that, he would become a dark globe within 15 days, daily loosing one crescent and whosoever sees him on a Chaturthi day(Fourth day of the waning moon) would be laughed at. Later, Lord Shiva brokered a peace between Ganesh and the moon. He said the moon will get reduced to dark as per Ganesh's curse and later regain his brilliance in another 15 days.

There is yet another story about the tusk of Ganesh. It can be found here.

Naughty Dog have chosen the 2nd story for the game...


 
Battle between Parshuraam and Ganesh shown in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Trailer | E3 2017

Its the trail of this legend that Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross follow in the game's story campaign...which is perfectly fine considering the action and cinematic orientation of Uncharted games.



Recently there was this article about the portrayal of Hinduism in the game.

Considering all those distinct legendary origins, the exact "accuracy" is just not possible. The E3 Expo 2017 presentation speaks for itself  featuring the Flute, the Violin, the Tabla, the Harmonium and the Sitar which made it even more gorgeous and an immersive way to get welcomed with the new trailer at the Sony Press Conference, E3 2017! Doesn't this depict utmost love and "respect" towards Indian culture? Chloe literally mentioned "the great battle in which Ganesh lost his tusk" in the above trailer which is clearly audible. Isn't this expression respect enough?  Here's the excerpt about the same from the Brahmanda Purana translated from Sanskrit as described above in the 2nd story in this article:
Bhargava is the original name of Parshuraam and Skanda is another name of Kartikeya, Ganesh's elder brother.


I hope the current work on the game progresses as planned and mesmerizes the fans on August 22, 2017 😊!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trip To Germany: Gamescom 2016 & Marksburg Castle: Star Player Diary




















This was an incredible journey to be cherished throughout my lifetime. On the 19th of July, I received an email from Dominique Falkenberg, Community Manager, Ubisoft which said that I had been selected as an Ubisoft Star Player and invited to attend Gamescom 2016 at Cologne, Germany to witness the amazing lineup of Ubisoft games that are awaiting launch. It said, "We recognize your noteworthy engagement within our community, and we would like for you to take part in this very special week designed for you, our biggest fans." I had been posting various content on Vikings, Knights and Samurai in the community fan group for Ubisoft's upcoming "For Honor" game fb.com/groups/GroupForHonor . When the game had been announced at E3 more than a year ago, I had immediately created the fan group since I was so impressed with its new concept and mechanics.

I had never been abroad ever in my life and was glad that Germany was going to be my first country.

I had to quickly make arrangements for getting the Schengen Visa to visit Cologne, Germany where the event was upcoming. I was a bit nervous as a previous invitation was missed due to an unfortunate U.S. Visa refusal as its quite difficult to get short stay U.S. Visas in India. I was overjoyed when I finally got the Schengen Visa for Germany!

The day finally arrived for the trip. By this time I had checked out the amazing city of Cologne online via German websites and my curiosity just kept growing! My flight was scheduled at 3:50 AM on August 16th, 2016. So, I reached the airport the previous night by 10:30 PM. I was too excited to sleep and kept roaming around the airport to check out the renovated place. It had been quite a long time since I had visited the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.

























I bought a mobile power bank and also a travel universal power adapter for emergencies after I was done with the immigration and security checks. The flight was on time and I boarded the aircraft with a lot of enthusiasm! I began taking some pictures:

This one was just after takeoff:





I reached Doha(Hamad International Airport) after a 5 hour flight(approx.). I had 2 more flights to go. I had to catch the next one after about an hour of reaching Doha. But unfortunately my second flight was rescheduled after 7 hours. I was provided lunch at the Marché restaurant. The food was exquisite!

Here are a few photos of that beautiful restaurant:



















I made a quick call back home to update them about my rescheduled flight. I also informed Angèle, one of our Ubisoft Star Player Guides about the same and gave them my new flight numbers. After the meal, I roamed around a bit to check out the amazing Hamad International Airport:


























While waiting at the airport in Doha, I met a guy from Pakistan. It was the first time for me to talk to someone from Pakistan face to face. On the other hand, he was also meeting an Indian(me) for the first time! We spoke about each others' countries and he was very curious about mine. We talked about the difficulties and lifestyles in both countries. I asked him to watch a movie by Shah Rukh Khan (Veer-Zaara) and also told him to listen to a song that describes the similarities between both countries. If you are wondering what song it is, here it is with subtitles:






He had never been to India. We chatted for some more time. At the end of our conversation, he said that he was delighted to have met me and I shared my thoughts that it was a pleasure to meet him too. For a moment I had found a fellow traveller for the 2nd part of my journey towards Germany.




















I reached Istanbul, Turkey at the correct time....moments later, I was on my flight to Cologne. At around 11:30 pm, my flight landed at the airport. I was unable to contact my Star Player guide as due to a connectivity issue on roaming. Luckily I found a good samaritan who lent me his phone to make the urgent call. Though I was able to contact my guide, I wasn't able to locate the cab that was supposed to be waiting. So I took one on my own and drove off to the Lindner Dom Residence Hotel.





















After a while I checked into the amazing hotel, I got a call from Natchai asking me to come down for a small meet. We had a little chat about my journey and whatever I missed that day. Luckily nothing was missed regarding UbiGames :) ! After that, Natchai handed me over the last Ubisoft goodies bag :) . Then we parted to our respective rooms. I waited for the next day with great enthusiasm as I dozed off....next morning, the breakfast was amazing. I met the other fellow Star Players who had arrived from different parts of the world. I had quite a long conversation with Samuel Steele who had also arrived as a community reporter for "For Honor". There was another community reporter called Lisa Habraken who had also arrived for the same amazing game. Later on, I had a chat with most of the other Star Players I could find.

Moments later, Natchai called us for some more UbiGoodies ;) . We got a gigantic Assassin's Creed Movie poster(adores my room wall now :) ) along with a South Park figure :) .





The moment that we've been waiting for finally arrived!!!

We boarded the bus and began the journey towards Gamescom at the Koelnmesse!
























Thats the Rhine river:




















After reaching our destination, our excitement knew no bounds as we entered the majestic arena!






















Fellow Star Players:





















With Community Reporter and Star Player Samuel Steel:




















Here are some pics from Gamescom:





































The legendary cosplayer, Rick Boer!







































On our way back after the first day:



















Some pretty cars spotted :) !
























I adore bikes. So had to take this shot:




















St. Peter's Cathedral at Cologne:




















In the city:
































With fellow Star Player, Bisu Zimt:




















Dishonored 2 craze in the city!!




Some more pics of the beautiful city:























Dinner time!

















With Star Player guides Moritz Steck and Angèle Perrottet




Some more pics of the Cologne Cathedral:




Next day was a big surprise for us, as we were going to visit a medieval castle dating back to 1117!

Early next morning we headed off towards Marksburg castle headed by Ubisoft brand director Luc Duchaine and Ubisoft community developer Emile Gauthier along with fellow Star Players and Community reporters.




For Honor Community Reporters Samuel and Lisa:




For Honor Brand Director Luc Duchaine and Community Developer Emile Gauthier:



When we finally reached our destination:





















Our castle tour guide had a beautiful accent and a wonderful way of explaining things:





























Medieval Chess!:








































One of the ceilings above:

























Trying a Knight's Helmet:

























The torture room!:


























On the right is the hoof of a medieval horse! See the massive difference!:























A hilarious sign!



















Back at Gamescom!:









































Last view! It was a bit emotional when all of us parted and headed homewards!





















My first flight was delayed and my Visa had expired. The police officer was a true gentleman who helped me out during that time to check out with my passport. He was very friendly and kind. Dear good people of Germany, take a humble bow!



















I reached home on 20th September past 2 am. This will forever be an unforgettable trip! Thank you Ubisoft and the lovely samaritans of Germany whom I met during my stay, for your beautiful gesture of hospitality!


Lots of Love,
Avi