Steam Game Bundle Prize 1 for #UPickVG5

On Friday June 3rd starting at 8:30pm and ending at 9:30pm ET, we will be giving away a bundle of Steam game keys!  This collection covers a wide variety of genres and includes the following games:

The U-Pick Crew is very grateful to our own Bobby for his donation of these games to UPickVG 5, and we look forward to giving this awesome bundle away to one of our viewers!

Tune in Friday June 3rd 8:30pm – 9:30pm ET to enter to win!

UPickVG 5: Revenge of the Wheel of Destiny

Jimmy spins the Wheel of Destiny, UPickVG IV

Spin. Dat. Wheel! Jimmy spins the Wheel of Destiny for NightHawk’s shift during UPickVG IV. Photo by Steve Petrucelli

During a UPickVG game-a-thon for charity, your charity donations pick the games we play. It’s pretty much our “thing.” But donations aren’t the only thing that determine the game of the hour (every hour!): there’s also… THE WHEEL OF DESTINY! If you need a little refresher course on how the Wheel of Destiny works, we’re happy to help:

How the Wheel of Destiny Works:

You make a donation for a game you’d really like to see us play. Maybe it’s Castle Shikigami 2, the delightfully fun shoot-’em-up with horribly voice-acted cutscenes (just sayin’). Let’s say that the Rankings chart looks like this at the time you’re thinking of making your donation:

Rank Game Name Points
1 Sim Ant 102
2 Tail of the Sun 65
3 Harvest Moon 64 52
4 TES IV Oblivion 49
5 Sonic Adventure 45
6 Castle Shikigami 2 40

(Yes, Sim Ant has 102 dollars on it in my example. That’s what you get when Stephonee makes up an example from her own head.)

Now let’s take a quick look at the Wheel itself:

Sexy Jimmy and the Wheel of Destiny

Try not to be distracted by the sexy Jimmy in the photo, and focus on the Wheel! Photo by Steve Petrucelli

As you can see in the picture, the Wheel of Destiny has 8 slots, numbered 1 – 5. The number 1 appears three times, 2 appears twice, and 3, 4, and 5 all appear once. So the Wheel is “weighted” toward the game in slot 1, and somewhat toward the game in slot 2, and nothing below slot 5 even makes it on the Wheel.

When we hit the 50-minute mark of every hour during our marathon, that’s when we spin the Wheel of Destiny to see which game will be played for the next hour. Whichever number, 1 – 5, that the Wheel lands on, the game in that slot on the Rankings is what we will play. So before the 50-minute mark, you’ll want to get your donation in for Castle Shikigami 2 (in our example) for it to even have a change of being played for the next hour!

If you wanted it to have any chance at all, you’d need to donate at least $5.01 to have it overtake Sonic Adventure for Slot #5. If you wanted to have an even better chance, you’d have to donate at least $25.01 to have it overtake Tail of the Sun for the #2 slot. And if you wanted it to have the best chance of coming up in the next hour, you’d have to donate $62.01 or more to overtake Sim Ant and take the #1 slot!

(Handy hint: you can always try to rally the chat together for a game you want! Try asking in our live chat if anyone else is interested in seeing Castle Shikigami 2, and will help you by kicking in say, $20. If you can find two people in the chat interested, then you would only need to donate $22.01 yourself to make the game take slot #1!)

Stephonee Spins the Wheel, UPickVG IV

I am a very good Wheel-spinner-person! So determined. Photo by Steve Petrucelli

After the Wheel is Spun

When the Wheel lands on a number, we (of course) start preparing the game in that slot for the next hour of play. Hurray! But the game also loses all of its accumulated points and goes back down to the very bottom of the Rankings. This is just to ensure that the there are only repeats of games during a game-a-thon if you guys really want another hour! All you have to do to see a second hour of a game (or third hour, or fourth!) is donate again until it gets back into the Top 5.

And that’s it! We’ll spin the Wheel 48 times during UPickVG 5, starting with the first Wheel Spin at 7:50pm ET on June 3rd, during our preshow. Then we’ll play the first game it lands on, and we’re off to the races for another 47 Wheel Spins in a row!

Donate to clean water projects

Donate now to get the game you want on the Wheel! 100% of your donation will go to bringing people clean water.

Different Solutions to the Water Crisis in Very Different Places

When you think of water scarcity, what comes to mind? Do you imagine hot, arid deserts? Dusty roads with bright sun and no shelter?

Or do you imagine green mountains with arable land? Silty river basins with long rainy seasons?

Two of our past charity: water projects, in Rwanda and Cambodia, present a unique conundrum when it comes to the water crisis: both countries have abundant sources of water, but little of it is safe to drink.

Rwanda

Rwanda contains many lakes and rivers within its borders, as well as the watershed between the Congo and Nile drainage basins. Two major rainy seasons occur: February-May and September-December. Drought presents a major barrier to clean water accessibility during the dry seasons in between.

In 2012, U-Pick raised funds for piped-system tap stands for the Kiboha and Nshishi communities in Rwanda. From our charity: water project completion report: “The people here, especially women and children, used to walk up to two hours to collect water for their families. The water wasn’t safe to drink and often made people sick.”

Here are some snapshots of the piped-system tap stands that were built from the UPickVG I game-a-thon funds:

Cambodia

Cambodia is split by the lower basin of the Mekong river, creating a topography of river plains and flood basins. The Mekong also feeds the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia: the Tonlé Sap. The climate of Cambodia is defined as “tropical monsoon,” which contributes to the annual flooding of the Mekong and fresh deposits of sediment to the heavily populated lowlands.

charity: water launched a project unique to Cambodia, featuring a new solution called a BioSand Filter. There is a really neat diagram of how it works on charity: water’s Cambodia page.

And here are a few of the BioSand Filters we raised funds for during our 2013 marathon (UPickVG II). This project benefited the Kra Va community in Cambodia:

The projects for our other past game-a-thons, including UPickVG III and IV, are still being built! It takes 18-24 months for a project and photography to be completed, and a project completion report to be sent to all the donors.

What kind of water-delivery or filtration device will we help build with our upcoming marathon this June (UPickVG 5)? Maybe it will be a drilled well, digging deep into the earth in search of fresh aquifers. Check out this video of a well drill in action:

Donate to clean water projects

Donate now to help fund UPickVG’s next charity: water project! 100% of your donation will go to bringing people clean water.

Tail of the Sun = Best Game EVER

[Editor’s note: In honor of Tail of the Sun being the first game to EVER have a successful write-in campaign on our games poll, and thus ending up on UPickVG 5’s Available Games List, we decided to let our guard down and allow Grant to write another one of his “game reviews,” this one about Tail of the Sun. Please tell us we’re not about to regret this decision.]

As a caveperson in an early sandbox game, you’ll spend most of your days exploring and accomplishing absolutely nothing.  You might find some weird statues that make you contemplate life, or climb a mountain by running straight up a slope that’s at a 90 degree angle, or hunt some deer or a pack of glowing green sabertooth tigers.  Maybe you spend your days eating Japanese cookies scattered all over the ground (no really) so that you can tweak your stats to give you and your offspring some gloriously powerful genitals.

Awww yeah. Who needs brains when my propagate is so pink?

Awww yeah. Who needs brains when my propagate is so pink?

Then, hopefully you get a chance to bring some meat back to your tribe so that they can survive and breed some increasingly weird, scary people.  I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but we’ve seen everything from guys with stained glass faces, to a hideous spiderface woman.

tailof1c

Almost punched it, but slid off because… deer are slippery?

Did I mention the narcolepsy?  Your cavecreature needs sleep, but there isn’t any visual cue or stat that you can watch in order to know when they’ll get tired.  They just suddenly fall down and sleep whenever they feel like they need it.  Even MID JUMP DURING A FIGHT WITH A MAMMOTH.

tailof1b

Oh. Well. It IS dark outside. I guess this little guy is done for the day.

TLDR: this is the best game ever.

tailof1a

Ow. Derp.

[Editor’s note: Well, that happened. And you can donate to see Tail of the Sun in UPickVG 5, June 3rd-5th, and also to bring clean water to people who need it in the developing world.]

UPickVG 5: The Available Games List

UPickVG 5 Available Games

UPickVG 5, the mega 48-hour game-a-thon for charity where YOU pick the games, is right around the corner, June 3rd-5th! As that time quickly approaches, we are proud to announce the list of games that will be available for you to choose from! This game list was put together based on your suggestions and your votes in the poll, with a few extra ideas added in by our Official Gamesmuns, Chip & Grant:

Game System
 Banjo-Kazooie  N64
 Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds  Xbox
 Castle Shikigami 2  PS2
 Crash Bandicoot 2  PS1
 Cubivore  Gamecube
 Dead Space 3  Xbox 360
 Deadly Premonition  Xbox 360
 Deception 3  PS1
 Donkey Kong Country 2  SNES
 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem  Gamecube
 Fatal Frame II  Xbox
 God Hand  PS2
 Hannah Montana: The Movie: The Game  Xbox 360
 Harvest Moon 64  N64
 Hello Kitty Seasons  Wii
 Herc’s Adventures  PS1
 Jaws Unleashed  PS2
 Kirby Super Star  Wii
 Mario Kart 64  N64
 Mario Party 3  N64
 Metal Gear Solid 3  PS2
 Perfect Dark  N64
 Pokémon Snap  N64
 Portal 2  Xbox 360
 Resident Evil 0  Gamecube
 Shadow of the Colossus  PS2
 Silent Hill 2  Xbox
 Sim Ant  SNES
 Sonic Adventure  Xbox 360
 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars  Wii
 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island  SNES
 Super Smash Bros. Brawl  Wii
 Tail of the Sun  PS1
 TES IV Oblivion  Xbox 360
 Tetris  Xbox 360
 The Adventures of Batman & Robin  Genesis
 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past  Wii U
 TMNT: Turtles in Time  SNES
 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2  PS1
 Warioware: Smooth Moves  Wii
 We Love Katamari  PS2
 MYSTERY GAME  WHO KNOWS?

Any of these games can be donated for right now if you want to see them in UPickVG 5! Donations to our charity:water campaign will give points to your selected game, which will put it on the Wheel of Destiny, to possibly come up during the marathon. The only way a game will be played is if it gets donations, so get donating for the games you want to see!

Donate to clean water projects

(And keep in mind, donations made before the marathon begins will most heavily affect the first shift, so if you have certain ideas about what you want Jimmy to play, the time to donate is now!)

Calling All Newsies!

Newsies Sell Papes

But ya know, headlines don’t sell papes, newsies sell papes!

You’ve heard us mention Karma Points on air, right? Seen folks in chat have !karma contests? There’s an easy way to get Karma. By signing up for the newsletter below, you can immediately earn 250 Karma Points, which can be used towards raffle tickets!

Plus you’ll be signed up for our super-cool email newsletter, which will remind you of upcoming UPickVG events and special opportunities (like requesting games, voting for games, game-y things):

Sign up for the UPickVG Email Newsletter

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Sign up for the email newsletter and in Twitch chat, type !karma to see how many you have. Not enough Karma for you? Donations also get you Karma Points!

UPickVG 5 Player Shift Schedule

Here it comes: the schedule for which UPickVG volunteers will be subjected to YOUR game choices, and when! Here are the faces that will be playing whatever games you choose for charity, and when:

Friday, June 3rd
Friday
8pm – Midnight

Saturday, June 4th
Saturday
Midnight – 4am

Saturday
4am – 8am

Saturday
8am – Noon

Saturday
Noon – 4pm

Saturday
4pm – 8pm

Saturday
8pm – Midnight

Sunday, June 5th
Sunday
Midnight – 4am

Sunday
4am – 8am

Sunday
8am – Noon

Sunday
Noon – 4pm

Sunday
4pm – 8pm

All times above are Eastern Daylight Time. Clicking on a time will show you that time in your local timezone. Clicking on the name of a Player will take you to their bio.
*SCHEDULE CHANGE: Grant has taken over this shift, formerly held by DJ Greg Z. We offer our support to Greg as he deals with a death in family.

And just which video games will this band of fine folks be playing for your viewing pleasure? That is 100% entirely up to you! Your donations [starting May 20th] to charity: water will pick which games each Player has to play, and also bring clean water to people who need it in the developing world.

So get your donations ready, and do not forget to tune in starting June 3rd at 7pm ET (that’s our preshow!) for all the games you pick and all the insanity that goes with them!

Sponsor Spotlight: OCZ

There’s a lot that goes into livestreaming video games, and even more so when you’re trying to stream 48 hours straight (or longer), playing a huge variety of console games that were never meant for streaming in the first place, and only having 10 minutes of warning for each game before making an hourly switch! (Not that we’re complaining, we love what we do, and it’s all for charity!) Quality equipment and a dose of ingenuity make it possible to do all of the above on a high-res broadcast.

When the dust settles on a marathon, we like to be able to go back, revisit the footage, and share our game-a-thons with the world after the fact. But to do that, we need the ability to record HD footage simultaneously while outputting a high-quality broadcast directly to the stream. Not an easy task, especially not for 48 hours straight with no interruptions to either the broadcast or the recording.

OCZ Storage Solutions

OCZ Storage Solutions

But thanks to our sponsor OCZ, it actually is an easy task. With the donation of an OCZ RevoDrive 350 Series 480GB PCI-E Solid State Drive, we’re able to do it all perfectly. The drive is lightning fast, thanks to being a PCI-E drive, so writing high-def footage to the drive in real time is absolutely no problem. And 480GB of space nicely holds 48 hours of footage without issue.

It lets us capture and share ridiculousness from our [After Hours] rehearsals:

And it enables us to save every moment of our charity game-a-thons, including the Thank Yous at the end:

All thanks to OCZ and their generous solid state storage drive donation! Visit OCZ’s website for more information on their offerings, and be sure to check out the rest of our video archive for all the great videos we’ve captured on our OCZ drive!

Vote Now for the Games YOU Want to Make Us Play in UPickVG 5!

Vote Now for the Games in UPickVG 5

UPickVG 5, the fifth annual-ish charity game-a-thon where you, the viewer, get to pick the games we have to play – why, it’s just around the corner! And now, it’s time for one of the really fun parts of the game picking: the voter poll!

We use your votes in this poll to determine how much demand there is for each game you guys have requested (and therefore, how likely it is that a certain game will raise money for charity). So if you’re really keen on seeing a certain game (or several certain games) in the game-a-thon, let us know by coming back to vote every day through May 15th!

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Last Chance to Request Games for UPickVG 5!

UPickVG 5 is coming, June 3rd-5th! And just like all of our mega charity game-a-thons, YOU get to pick the games we’ll be playing! But you’ve only got a limited time left to let us know what games you want

Starting Sunday May 1st, we’ll take the games you’ve requested on the Request Games page and make a super-giant-awesome voter poll out of them all! So you want to get your requests in to us before May 1st, to make sure they make it into the poll. Once the poll is opened, the Request Games page will be closed for business, and at that point, you’ll only be able to add new games via a write-in campaign on the poll (and trust us, getting your game suggestions in before the deadline is a heck’ova lot easier than doing a write-in campaign in the poll).

So request the games you want to see now, and get your voting fingers ready for May 1st!