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Thursday, Jan 25, 2007

  

Age of Conan Delayed Again

Final launch date set for ‘Age of Conan’ on the Age of Conan Forums has word that Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures has suffered another delay, and Funcom's barbaric MMORPG is now expected on October 30, 2007 (thanks Tommy). The delay "will further ensure an online experience with truly stunning impact for the game, which previously carried a March to May release window (story). Here's more on what the future holds:

‘Age of Conan’ is currently in closed beta. Funcom will soon announce a unique chance to secure a spot in the open beta of the game. If you are, or will shortly become, a part of the ‘Age of Conan’ community you will have a unique chance to influence and impact the ‘Age of Conan” game as it approaches its last stages of development.

The Ro(c)k Con Artists Announced

Centauri Production announces The Ro(c)k Con Artists, an upcoming vehicular combat game with about as unusual title as we can recall (thanks Frans). Based on a Czech feature film, the game will be released in English as well as Czech, with a European release projected for sometime this year. The announcement offers screenshots and info on the project, and aside from our favorite part, which is "Expert comment: This tractor will go high!," here's a bit:

The Rock Con Artists is the first Czech game based purely on a feature film. The film itself comes from the authors of popular teenager comedies Snowborďáci (Snowboarders) and Rafťáci (Rafters) and it's expected that both the forthcoming film and game'll attract similar audience.

Thanks to the efforts and the common of vision of the film and software crews it is certain that the computer game will result in a teenager road-game about a band of four rockers who made up their minds to get new instruments even if that meant messing with the local mafia.

Apart from being gifted musically, the guys have another outstanding talent - the unique gift of producing trouble. That's why they're soon hunted by half of the people in the town, and not just because they tried to blackmail the mafia boss. Horny punk females, Internal Revenue Service staff, gangsters - they're all out to get 'em.

Carpe Diem Closed

The Carpe Diem Website has word that plans to bring Gnisoft's Korean MMORPG westward are off (thanks Frans), as Persistent Worlds seizes the day to offer very terse word that they have shut down:

It is with deep regret that as of the 22nd January Persistent Worlds ceased trading.

Sam & Max Episode 3 Launches

Telltale Games announces the launch of Sam & Max Episode 3:

Today GameTap launches “The Mole, The Mob, and the Meatball,” the third episode in “Sam & Max: Season 1,” the critically-acclaimed GameTap Original series.

This new episode comes right on the heels of the first two, illustrating a rapid pace distribution schedule that has GameTap and Telltale redefining the episodic games genre for the industry. As of today, subscribers can play all three episodes of Sam & Max on GameTap; what’s more, they can tune in to GameTap TV for a slew of on-demand extras, including the 1997 Sam & Max hit cartoon series and all-new Sam & Max machinima shorts. New shorts and cartoons are added to the line-up every week.

In “The Mole, The Mob, and the Meatball,” the hilarious pair go undercover Mafia-style to help the commissioner, who is looking into an underground operation at the Ted E. Bear Mafia-Free Playland and Casino. The commissioner’s mole has suddenly gone quiet, and to find this missing informant, Sam & Max must infiltrate the operation and become members of the Toy Mafia themselves.

GameTap is currently offering a fantastic promotion: sign up today and get the first month of service for just 99 cents. This flat rate means 24-7 access to all that GameTap offers, including GameTap Originals “Sam & Max: Season 1” and “Myst Online: Uru Live,” along with more than 800 of the greatest games on-demand and 600 original shows on GameTap TV.

To view Sam & Max trailers and machinima shorts, or to download screensavers and wallpaper, visit www.gametap.com/samandmax. For screenshots and downloadable video that you can post on your own site, visit http://vip.telltalegames.com.

Uru Live Dated

GameTap announces February 15 as the release date for Myst Online: Uru Live:

Mark your calendars! GameTap is proud to announce Thursday, February 15th, as the official release date for the highly anticipated debut of “Myst Online: Uru Live.” This new adventure-driven take on the massively multiplayer online game genre will feature the ongoing release of new content and will become simultaneously available in fourteen countries around the world.

Brave New Worlds
Currently in beta release, the “Myst Online: Uru Live” preview storyline continues to showcase new content for fans of the Myst franchise on an almost daily basis. On the game's official launch date, another never-before-seen world will debut. This new garden Age will feature an intricate, yet easily engaging, all-new multiplayer puzzle for players to solve. With its real-time storyline and ever-evolving world, “Myst Online: Uru Live” continues to provide an intrigue-driven, exploration-oriented interactive experience unlike any other massively multiplayer online game.

Going Global

“Myst Online: Uru Live,” developed exclusively for GameTap by Cyan Worlds, will be available to GameTap subscribers in the United States and Canada. Additionally, “Myst Online: Uru Live” will be available via direct download at www.gametap.com/mystonline to international consumers in select countries around the world. All players will be able to interact in the same game world. For the list of international launch countries, please visit the official game website at www.gametap.com/mystonline.

Square Enix Gets Unreal

Square Enix Licenses Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 announces the latest licensing win for Epic's Unreal engine:

TOKYO, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Square Enix Co., Ltd. today announced a licensing agreement with Epic Games that enables Square Enix to introduce Epic's Unreal® Engine 3 middleware into its next-generation game development process.

Square Enix has built its highly successful franchises such as FINAL FANTASY®, DRAGON QUEST® and KINGDOM HEARTS by pushing game consoles to their limits and providing unparalleled user experiences for more than 20 years. This was achieved through the company's proprietary technologies, which were mostly optimized for each game given the limited resources of game consoles. However, in order to ensure both game quality and development efficiency for next-generation game systems including consoles, PCs and network titles, Square Enix is now building a technology platform to be used throughout the company utilizing proprietary technologies as well as introducing third-party solutions such as Unreal Engine 3.

"The complexity of next-generation game systems featuring HD graphics and multi-core parallel processing poses a number of technological challenges to our game development. However, we can expedite our game development process significantly while allowing extra time and resources to be spent on game design and mechanics by establishing an effective technology platform," said Taku Murata, General Manager, Research and Development Division, Square Enix, Co., Ltd. "The technology platform for game development is becoming more important than ever. I'm excited to be partnering with Epic Games in such an important area."

"We're extremely excited to be working with Square Enix," said Jay Wilbur, Vice President, Epic Games, Inc. "Square Enix is one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world-wide game business, and having them work with Unreal Engine 3 is a major honor for us and something we're very proud to be announcing."

SCS Dangerous Waters Patches

Sonalysts' Computer Game Downloads now offers a new patch for SCS Dangerous Waters, updating the naval combat game to version 104. The read me has details on what's new and different. Thanks Frans.

The Late Show

The Battlestations Midway launch movie offers a high resolution look at the imminent World War II action/strategy game, available from 3D Gamers, FileFront, and Worthplaying. Also, a new movie provides another glimpse of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, Turbine's upcoming middle-earth MMORPG. One or both of two versions of the clip are available on 3D Gamers, Gamer's Hell, GameSpot, and Worthplaying. Meanwhile, a new City Life: World Edition movie shows off more of the imminent expanded edition of Monte Cristo's city building and management game. The clip is available from 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying. Finally, a new TrackMania United movie offers the English version of a new clip showing off the upcoming installment in Nadeo's track-building and racing series. The first "websiode" clip can be streamed from the TrackMania United Webite.

Evening Q&As

  • Supreme Commander
    The Supreme Commander Q&A - Factional Conflict on GameSpot interrogates Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor about his upcoming RTS game: "All three factions are very balanced at the lower tech levels. It's not until Tech 2 and Tech 3 that they start to diverge, and are completely different at Tech 4. I think both the Aeon and Cybran have the most devastating assault units for game-ending devastation, but the UEF's experimental nuclear artillery battery (the mavor) is pretty outrageous too, which makes them all equally good choices to learn and master."
  • The Lord of the Rings Online
    The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Q&A on GameSpot discusses the coming MMORPG with Turbine's Jeff Anderson: "When we started building Lord of the Rings, we asked ourselves a little bit about the fiction and the franchise. And we said clearly one of the goals of the franchise is to let you feel like you're part of Middle-earth, to feel like you're part of the War of the Ring. And those are two similar but dissimilar objectives. And in doing that, we wanted to make sure like you felt like you could play a hero, and your hero is a dwarf or an elf or a hobbit or a human. And you can build those characters up. But we also wanted to make sure that you felt that you could be part of the combat, the real struggle for good and evil within the epic franchise. And that struggle comes down to all the evil creatures that you're familiar with--the goblins and the trolls, the wargs, the orcs, and all the monsters that you're familiar with."
  • Bethesda
    Bethesda Talks Oblivion Franchise, Star Trek, Fallout 3 on Gamasutra is an article-format conversation with Bethesda's Pete Hines discussing their upcoming projects. Here's a bit on Fallout 3: "We are a fairly good ways into the process. The team has ramped up, and it will be a little while longer. As is the case with all of our games, especially those of this scope, we don't really want to talk about them until they are in a state where we can show you, rather than having you simply picturing it in your minds eye.”
  • X3: Reunion
    Looking Back... X3: Reunion on Computer and Video Games is a Q&A with Jon Blyth of Egosoft providing a retrospective about the most recent installment in the X series of space shooters: "The X series has become our only project and source of income. It's almost a child, and we all love working on it. So the moment it became successful, we knew we were going to continue working on this. There are so many ideas and things to improve that we knew, even in 1996 when the series was started, that we could work on this game for a very long time. In 2004 we started working on an expansion for X2 - new missions, stations and ships, but inside the same 'hull' (gameplay, interface etc). At the same time, we started work on a new graphics engine and a modified user interface which we internally named X3. In March 2005, we decided to concentrate all our work on a single project and scrapped the idea of an expansion for X2."
  • Online Worlds Roundtable
    RPG Vault Online Worlds Roundtable #14 - Part 2 continues this discussion with their panel of MMORPG experts on the ups and downs of non-subscription revenue models.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

CoV/CoH Correction

Last night's report about issue #9 of City of Heroes/City of Villains (story) incorrectly stated the new features listed were already live. In fact, this update for NCsoft's comic book-inspired MMORPG is still in the works. Apologies for causing any confusion.

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

Into the Black

Took the pooches off to the kennel today, which has me off both in the time lost transporting them, and the absence of their love, chaos, etc. Sigh.

Forelorned Links! Thanks Ant.
Links of the Evening: Poop-Freeze Spray Will Turn Dog-doo Icy Cold. Thanks Mike Martinez.
Drivl.com - Every Mythbusters Myth ON ONE PAGE. Thanks Mike Martinez.
Stories: N.J. warns Don't eat squirrel near dump. Now ya tell me.
Science!: Warming to raise seas for 1,000 years: U.N. draft.
Media: Smoke The Wii. Thanks xaos21.
How to Beat Your Children at Video Games.
Backflip in a Wheelchair!

UT2007 Becomes UT3

UT 2007 Becomes UT3 on GameSpy reports a name change to Unreal Tournament 3 for the project formerly known as Unreal Tournament 2007. Accompanying the news is a new gameplay video showing off weapons and levels from the game, which is now expected for the Xbox 360 and PS3 as well as the PC. The year in the title was originally intended to reflect annual updates to Epic's shooter franchise, but after successfully following UT2003 with UT2004, the next installment was dubbed UT2007 in anticipation of a 2006 release. With that installment delayed until later this year, it seems the title change reflects the reality that the lengthy development cycle of such projects has doomed the possibility of annual Madden-style releases.

Lord of the Rings Online Preorders

Turbine and Midway Unveil Revolutionary Pre-Order Founder's Program for The Lord of the Rings Online(TM) provides details on the preorder program for Turbine's upcoming Tolkien-inspired MMORPG. Word is that in addition to typical incentives, this program will offer a discounted subscription price:

This exciting Founder's Program rewards all players who pre-order The Lord of the Rings Online with special $9.99 monthly subscription pricing, early access to the game (beta version), character roll-over and unique in-game bonus items. Players can become a Founder by pre-ordering the title at www.lotro.com/preorder or at retail stores nationwide beginning February 1, 2007. This limited-time offer is exclusively available to pre-order customers.

Black Mirror 2 Announced

German publisher dtp announces that Future Games is at work on Black Mirror 2, though they are not currently projecting a release date for the adventure game sequel:

dtp confirms development of Black Mirror 2dtp confirms development of Black Mirror 2 dtp confirms development of Black Mirror 2

dtp confirms development of Black Mirror 2

Hamburg/Germany: Jan, 25 2007 – Adventure gamers can look forward to a sequel to one of the most successful games in the genre: German publisher dtp entertainment AG has confirmed that Black Mirror 2, the follow-up to one of 2004’s top-selling adventure games, is now in development.

The game is in the works at Czech studio Future Games, who were responsible for the first game as well. Black Mirror 2 is currently in early concept stages.

“We received tons of mail from adventure gaming fans who clamoured for a new entry in the ‘Black Mirror’ story. ‘Black Mirror 2’ is our answer to these calls and we have assembled a team of experienced writers and designers to ensure that the sequel will meet the high expectations,” said Achim Heidelauf, Senior Producer at dtp entertainment.

dtp will publish Black Mirror 2 worldwide under its ANACONDA brand.

WoW: Burning Crusade CE EU Issue

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Netherwhelp Pet Help describes the process those who have purchased the European edition of the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade must undertake to activate the CE's promised exclusive Netherwhelp in-game pet (thanks Sarahs Idea). It seems the required code was not included in the package, and while there were originally plans to provide the missing pet through retail, the Collector's Edition pet redemption FAQ describes why they decided this was unworkable. This leads to the current plan to fix this problem through the mail, in a process that actually demands that users who paid a premium for the presumed collectible nature of the CE, must mutilate their package to redeem this offer. Collecting your missing pet requires the original Collector Reference Card and the barcode from the content description sheet, and while they seem to be willing to accept a photocopy of your receipt in place of the barcode, but it seems the reference card is required. Blizzard does apologize for the production error that has lead to this situation, and in compensation, they are offering effected users a Second Exclusive Pet (Lurky the Merloc) and two free days added to their subscription.

Mac Civ4 Patches

Aspyr now offers patches for the Macintosh editions of Sid Meier's Civilization IV, updating Civ4 to version 1.61 Rev B and the Warlords expansion for Civ4 to version 1.0 Rev A. The Civ4 patch has a handful of changes, while the Warlords patch includes over 100 fixes, and among other things the Mac editions of the turn-based strategy sequel are now multiplayer compatible with the PC edition.

German Gold - War Front

The German War Front Website offers word that the German edition of War Front: Turning Point is gold (thanks Frans). Word is: "Das spannende Action-RTS erscheint am 7. Februar in Deutschland, Österreich und Schweiz," which means the RTS game is due on February 7 in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

War Rock Q&A

The War Rock Q&A on FiringSquad chats with Matt Norton about K2 Networks' upcoming first-person shooter: "Essentially, you have two warring factions (the Nationalist Government Troops—Derbaran military, and the Rebels—the NIU) who are fighting for control of the country. Both sides are being backed by outside forces and reinforced with advanced arms and equipment from the world’s arsenal. At this time, both sides are equipped very similarly since they’ve both split off from the Derbaran armed forces. As time passes it’s likely that the arms and munitions received as replacements from both army’s external backers will start to change the equipment sets of each side."

Morning Previews

  • Penumbra: Overture on Pro-G.

Morning Legal Briefs

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Gatherings & Competitions

Op Ed

Thursday Game Reviews

Thursday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Amid a truly hectic week here at the BlueTower, with two trips to the vet, a trip to the eye doctor, a trip today to the kennel, and we head out of town tomorrow. Man!!

Hectic Links! Thanks Ant.
Link: Clark Sorensen, San Francisco Artist, best known for his fantastic Art Urinals. Thanks Jeremy.
Stories: Runaway Bride Story to Become Rock Opera.
RoboCop, PhD.
Cannabis bust sinks sailor.
Science!: US military unveils heat-ray gun.
Future of science debate begins.
Media: 101 Ways to get a new PC, #53.
Tree Swinging.
Follow-up: Drug dog sniffs on despite death threats.



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