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Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006

  

Battlefield 2142 Demo Plans

The Battlefield 2142 Website (thanks FiringSquad and Frans) has details on the Battlefield 2142 demo, outlining an unusual plan to offer early access to the demo for the people who have already bought it online:

Battlefield 2142 coming to EA Downloader Battlefield 2142 will be available to pre-order on EA Downloader in September with a unique incentive - a 24-hour exclusive pass to play the demo before its public release. You could be one of the first to get into the demo of the most-anticipated game of 2006. Avoid the queues and don't wait for the mail - get it on Downloader and get it delivered direct to your desktop.

Dark Messiah Beta Live

GameSpot announces that their paid subscribers now have the chance to join the (closed) open beta for Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The first 5,000 subscribers who register will get a code to activate the beta via Steam.

Auto Assault Update

NCsoft announces a new update is live for Auto Assault, ArenaNet's MMORPG:

AUSTIN, Texas, August 30, 2006 — NCsoft® today announced the release of a free update to Auto Assault® in both North America and Europe. Both current and new players stand to benefit with many new missions, cooler loot, enhanced tournament play and system-level changes designed to make post apocalyptic destruction even more fun.

Developed by NetDevil®, LTD, this latest installment for Auto Assault introduces a new arena tournament map and the Coliseum for higher level players. In addition to many new missions in the world, the new arena map, Emergence, contains six types of power-ups players can find and use, and features death matches designed to make player-versus-player combat more fun and promote movement across the map.

The Coliseum, found in Ground Zero, is built for those training to become the post apocalyptic elite. Players at levels 60, 65 and 70 may participate solo or in a convoy and battle wave after wave of increasingly nasty creatures and other surprises for experience, loot, and more.

For new players, the game is simply easier to get into and play. More head-on combat, improved vehicle control, better chassis and weapons earlier in the game, and auto-targeting combine with system-level enhancements to make the lower levels of the game more fun, the destruction more intense, and players feel more successful at the start.

In addition, a suite of powerful items have been introduced that will take players to a new level of skill. Dubbed the Battlemaster Set, these items are only available to players through purchase with outpost tokens. The only way to receive an outpost token is to capture and hold outposts for incremental periods of time. The Battlemaster Set of items is available through certain token vendors in the world. Players donning these items certainly set themselves apart.

The Late Show

The Rainbow Six Website offers a new movie from Rainbow Six: Vegas that's a diary clip narrated by Maxime Beland showing O.P.A. (Observer, Plan, Assault) principles from the upcoming shooter sequel in a choice of two sizes. Also, the Legend: Hand of God GC movie offers a high resolution look at Master Creating's upcoming fantasy-themed action/RPG. The download is available on 3D Gamers. Finally, the Collapse Website offers the GC movie from Buka Entertainment's upcoming "alternative future" action game. Thanks Frans.

Evening Q&As

  • C&C3
    German community interviews Mike Verdu on GameReplays.org offers a GC conversation with EALA about the coming RTS sequel: ”We are focused on that problem and we’re discussing several possibilities such as Punkbuster. But we’re probably not going to use Punkbuster. I hate to say it, but at the moment I can’t say what the answer to that problem will be. I’m sorry.“
  • Mage Knight Apocalypse
    The Mage Knight Apocalypse Q&A Part 2 on GameZone continues this discussion of the coming action/RPG with Dave Georgeson and Chris Wren: "Even if you just play single-player and never go online, it just increases the replay value. Every time you go through the game you can change the kinds of partners you select. So if you don’t want to change your [main, player-controlled] character and just gain more experience, your play experiences can [still] be significantly different from play to play [by having different sidekicks]."
  • Kingdom Elemental
    The Kingdom Elemental Q& on Strategy Informer talks with Scott Thunelius of indie developer Liberation Games about their coming action/adventure game: "The campaign mode spans over 4 unique fighting zones. The campaign is driven by a main storyline, which the player is more or less removed from. The fighting aspect of KE has very little to do with the storyline, but after each level is beaten players are treated to a cut scene which moves the story along. Also, each unit has a small snippet of information on their interface bar, which players can read if they want to get more backstory on the individual units. I tried to keep the game very light on the storyline part of things, simply because the game is about tactics and not about listening to 2 hours of storyline. If I wanted that, I would have made a movie and not a video game. Also, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. Players will find overtly placed easter eggs everywhere, as well as inside jokes from other games."
  • Microsoft Games Studios Publishing
    The Interview with Bonnie Ross of Microsoft Games Studios Publishing on WomenGamers.Com discusses quality of life: "From a broad-level perspective, flexibility is a key component in developing a cost efficient foundation for quality of life standards in a company of any size. Providing flexibility in work hours, work locations, etc., is a fairly inexpensive way to enable employees to find a balance that works for their work tasks and their life. However, the company needs to spend the time and energy in establishing its vision, objectives, and culture as well as its guidelines for QoL goals and policies. Last but not least, it’s important for company management to 'walk the talk' with regard to QoL policies."
  • Music
    Music 4 Games' Charles Deenen Q&A talks with the Game Audio Conference keynote speaker about the conference, the Need for Speed series, and more.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Legal Briefs

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Game & Mod Development

Microsoft now offers free downloads of Game Studio Express (Beta). Word is: "The XNA team is proud to announce the availability of the XNA Game Studio Express beta, aimed at helping students and hobbyists build games for Windows and the Xbox 360. This initial release is targeted at Windows games only."

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Well Mr. Verizon's visit today may just do the trick. It was clear this time out the goal was to solve things (I don't think it's too cynical to think my assertion that they were driving me into the waiting arms of my cable company influenced this newfound urgency). After a promising theory that the problem may be centered on an area of the phone lines that run through our neighbors' tree was dashed, he determined that the terminal on the line we were connected to was bad. We are now spliced directly into the phone lines to bypass this, and I am actually optimistic that this will work out from here. Of course I am a glass is half-full sort to start with, so we'll just have to wait until the next rainstorm (which won't be long) to see how this repair turned out.

Optimistic Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Links: Money Shirt. Thanks Digg.
Science!: Europe's First Lunar Mission Nears End (registration required). Thanks Neutronbeam.
Media: Darth Vader being rude. Thanks Ian.
Auction: Top Secret Q-Tip promises QUICK WEIGHT LOSS. Thanks Nic.
Follow-up: Mars Orbiter Ready to Begin Engine Burn.

DNF/3D Realms Problems?

Shacknews has a speculative story up suggesting that the development team for Duke Nukem Forever has suffered numerous recent personnel departures, which would be another setback for a project that's been in development for well over nine years now. Coincidentally, it was 10 years ago this month that 3D Realms suffered a mass exodus, including folks working on the original version of Prey, which lead to the formation of Ritual Entertainment. Here is a bit of what they are reporting:

Shacknews has learned from numerous reputable sources close to the game's development that, since approximately the end of 2005, 3D Realms has had something of an employee exodus. Apparently, up to ten major team members have left the company, with multiple departures having occurred as recently as within the past few days.

Developers confirmed to have left 3D Realms since last December include Scott Alden, Will Bate, Brian Cozzens, Kyle Davis, Andy Hanson, Keith Schuler, and Charlie Wiederhold. Some of the former employees headed up crucial game systems such as physics, animation, and rendering. Notably, Schuler is a sixteen year veteran of Apogee and 3D Realms. Our sources indicate that while the game's team has reached a size of about 24-28 developers, recently it has been closer to 18, meaning these current departures may actually comprise a majority of the team. Several sources have indicated that further information regarding these matters is expected next week.

PC Assassin's Creed Confirmed

Confirmed: Assassin's Creed Staking Out PCs on IGN confirms recent reports that a PC edition of the stealthy PS3 action game is also in the works (story). Word they've received from Ubisoft is: "Assassin's Creed PC will indeed see the light some day. Details will be provided at a later date." Likewise Frans says he's received his copy of PC Gamer UK upon which the original report was based, confirming there is a four page preview of the PC edition of Assassin's Creed that includes a general 2007 release date for the project.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two Delay Confirmed

Valve releases a new HD version of the video trailer from Half-Life 2: Episode Two from the GC (story), while confirming the delay to the next episode of their shooter sequel that was just revealed a week ago (story). The movie is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, Computer Games, Filecloud, FileFront, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, and Techgage, and here's word:

New footage from the second installment in Valve's first episodic trilogy is now available. In addition to revealing a little more about where the trilogy leads after Freeman's time in City 17, Trailer2 shows off the Cinematic Physics system enabled in the Source Engine by Gray Horsfield and others at Valve for Episode Two. Half-Life 2: Episode Two is targeted for release in Q1 2007 for release on the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Heroes of Might & Magic V: Hammers of Fate Announced

Ubisoft announces Heroes of Might & Magic V: Hammers of Fate, an add-on for Nival Interactive's latest installment in the HoMM series of turn-based strategy games. The first screenshots from the project are posted on 3D Gamers, and here's word:

SAN FRANCISCO – August 30, 2006 – Today Ubisoft, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, announced the release of Heroes of Might & Magic® V: Hammers of Fate, an add-on for the critically acclaimed turn-based strategy game. Developed by Nival Interactive, the add-on will be available in November 2006.

The add-on includes the following key features:
• New faction: Introducing the brand-new Dwarves faction, made up of heroic warriors and rune magic adepts who stalk Ashan’s deepest mountains and most hostile regions.

• A brand-new adventure: Featuring 15 new missions, new heroes, and improved cut-scenes, the new campaign will lead players even deeper into the dramatic events that began with Heroes of Might and Magic® V.

• Extended game experience: Includes a wealth of new spells and abilities, five new single-player maps, 10 new multiplayer maps, new buildings, new artifacts, and new neutral creatures, Heroes of Might and Magic® V: Hammers of Fate gives players the tools to develop new tactics, and further their game experience both online and offline.

• Improved mechanics and gameplay: Thanks to new features such as caravans and a random map generator, players will enjoy unlimited replayability and an even smoother gameplay experience. In addition, the simultaneous turn feature will speed up online games.

Prey Patch

A new patch is now available for Prey, offering the promised update for Human Head's first-person shooter. The version 1.1 addresses some bugs and other issues, including: "Multiplayer bandwidth optimization to allow better play on higher latency connections." The new Linux server is available from icculus.org and the 22 MB Win32 client patch is available on the 3D Realms Website.

Flyboys Announced

WarBirds developer iEntertainment sends along a press release (dated last week) announcing plans for a World War I flying combat game based on an upcoming movie on the topic:

CARY, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)—August 23, 2006-- iEntertainment Network, (BB:IENT.pk), the award-winning developer of the World Famous WarBirds TotalSims series, announced it will develop the first Massively Multiplayer Online Game to tie in with the initial theatrical release of a major motion picture, the upcoming MGM release of FLYBOYS, an Electric Entertainment film, to be released on September 22nd 2006. IENT will publish a single player game combined with an MMOG that puts the player in the pilot seat of a Nieuport 17 biplane to participate in exciting World War I era missions inspired by the FLYBOYS movie. These missions provide the excitement of the close-in dogfighting action of America’s first fighter pilots as depicted in the movie.

“The opportunity to produce an MMOG based on a flying movie that uses state of the art special effects is unprecedented. We are thrilled to be publishing a complete online flying game for all the fans of the movie and flying enthusiasts worldwide,” says JW “Wild Bill” Stealey, a US Air Force Retired Aviator and CEO of IENT.

The FLYBOYS Squadron MMOG demo will go live on September 7, 2006 for players who register for this free download at www.flyboysgame.com. Additional airplanes, terrain, interface and other features will be available in the complete retail game when it reaches stores this month.

The FLYBOYS Squadron game will include true simulations of 10 of the most famous aircraft of World War I, accurate World War I terrains, over 15 single player missions for players to hone their flying skills and obtain medals and rank from flying accomplishments, and easy FREE access to the MMOG where hundreds of other real aviators will be flying in historical and real simulation of World War I combat. (Retail customers get FREE access to the MMOG for one month.)

More information on the FLYBOYS Squadron Game is coming at http://www.FLYBOYSGame.com

On the Battlestations: Midway Delay

This press release officially announces the Battlestations: Midway delay revealed at the end of the recently released trailer for the WW2 action/strategy game (story). The story doesn't offer explanations for the delay, though it does seem to leave open the possibility that the release may slip further past the February 2007 date mentioned in the trailer, saying: "Developed by Eidos Studios, Hungary, Battlestations: Midway will be available in 2007."

Neverwinter Nights Patch

The Neverwinter Nights Forums announce the availability of a patch to update Neverwinter Nights to version 1.68, adding visible cloaks and addressing some issues with the D&D RPG (thanks Neverwinter Nights Vault). This support page has patches for the Win32 and Linux Editions for English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian as well as the corresponding updated servers. For those who think different, word is: "The Mac version of the patch is almost ready, as we are finalizing the support for Mac OS versions less than 10.4. It should be available this week."

Sword of the Stars Patch

Lighthouse Interactive now offers a new patch for Sword of the Stars, updating Kerberos Productions' 4X space strategy game to version 1.1.1. The new version includes GUI enhancements, multiplayer improvements, new configuration options, bug fixers, and more.

Site Seeing

The official LEGEND: Hand of God Website is live (thanks Frans), offering a Flash home to Master Creating's upcoming action/role-playing game.

The Early Show

More GC movie mania:

  • Call of Juarez
    A new movie shows off the settings and main characters in Techland's upcoming western-themed first-person shooter. The clip is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, FileFront, GameSpot, and Worthplaying.
  • Rush for Berlin: Rush for the Bomb
    The expansion for Stormregion's World War II RTS expansion is on display in a clip on 3D Gamers and Worthplaying.
  • Sabotage
    The GC trailer from Replay Studios' upcoming World War II stealth game is available on 3D Downloads and 3D Gamers.
  • Reprobates
    Future Games' upcoming adventure game is on display in the GC trailer on 3D Gamers.
  • Undercover: Operation Wintersun
    Another GC clip is online, this one for Sproing Interactive's upcoming WW2 adventure, this can be found on 3D Gamers.
  • Overclocked
    Another clip from (did you guess already?) GC is the German trailer for House of Tales' adventure game, available on 3D Gamers.
  • Drakensang: The Dark Eye
    The GC trailer for Radon Labs' fantasy-themed RPG is available on 3D Gamers.
  • Belief & Betrayal
    The Games Convention trailer for Artematica Entertainment's conspiratorial adventure game is available on 3D Gamers.

Morning Q&As

  • Microsoft XNA
    The Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express Q&A on FiringSquad discusses Microsoft's development tools with Dave Mitchell, the Director of Marketing for the MS Game Developer Group: "XNA Game Studio Express this holiday represents the first step in our efforts to democratize game development. Games developed using XNA Game Studio Express are the property of their authors provided they are the original IP owners of the game code, content and design. Game developers are welcome to shop their games created using XNA Game Studio Express around to any platform or publisher as they wish. It should be noted however that these games will need to be ported to those platforms if accepted, as XNA Game Studio Express currently supports Windows and Xbox 360."
  • Torque X
    Gamasutra's Interview with Torque X Developer GarageGames and the Torque X Q&A on FiringSquad each talk with Mark Frohnmayer about Torgue X and the XNA Framework: "We see the XNA framework as one of the most important emerging platforms for independent game developers interested in console games. We thought it was a natural fit for our tools, giving users of the Torque engines another great platform on which to develop and deploy their games."
  • LEGO Star Wars II
    The Traveller's Tales Q&A on Computer and Video Games discusses LEGO Star Wars and beyond: "Oh, lots of reasons. The mythic strength of the essential Star Wars narrative is complemented by the creative unpredictability of LEGO. The LEGO building system is well suited to spacecraft, and the Star Wars vehicles make terrific models; just as the distinctiveness of the Star Wars characters makes them ideally suited to treatment in iconic form as minifigures. It all just works."

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Legal Briefs

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Gatherings & Competitions

Game & Mod Development

Op Ed

Wednesday Game Reviews

Wednesday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I was looking forward to my first normal morning online in a while today, but no such luck. My connection keeps dropping and my DSL router's ready light keeps blinking. I picked up the phone and heard the familiar siren sound that phone techs use to troubleshoot the line. A look out the window confirmed what the siren already told me, that Verizon is again working on my funky phone lines. So for the record, the only day this week that my service wasn't working, they couldn't make it out here, but these two days that followed the problem clearing up on its own, they have knocked me offline to fix things. On the bright side, I spoke with this latest repair guy, and got a sense he is actually looking to permanently solve my problem, rather than slap on another band-aid. We, as the optimistic expression goes, shall see.

Re-repaired Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Play: Jason Reinsvold's BowMaster.
Links: Toilet Themed Dog Bowl.
Campaign to save the 76 Ball. Where were they 30 years ago when the 66 ball needed them?
Stories: Artist Thomas Kinkade under FBI investigation, ex-dealers say.
California Hemp Bill Passes Final Senate and Assembly Votes (thanks LoonyBomber). Hearst rolls over in grave.
Up to 14 hurt in SF hit-and-run spree. Thanks Boing Boing.
Science!: Long working hours linked to high blood pressure.
Zapped crude oil flows faster through pipes.
Media: MTV First Day Broadcast August 1981.
Rocket Lincoln Jump. The DarwinMobile! "My pappy said son..."
How to lose your job in 28 seconds.
Auction: Austin City Limits Music Festival (3 Day Pass) Ticket. Thanks Chris.



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