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Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

  

Infogrames Buys Atari

Forbes.com reports that Infogrames has purchased the remainder of Atari for a price tag of $11 million, following up on indications they were interested in such a deal (story). Word is that after this is concluded later this year, Atari will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Infogrames:

SAN FRANCISCO (Thomson Financial) - Infogrames Entertainment S.A. has agreed to acquire Atari Inc. for $11 million, the companies said late Wednesday.

Lyon, France-based Infogrames is currently the majority shareholder in Atari, holding 51.4%.

Under the terms of the agreement, Infogrames will acquire the remaining outstanding equity interests of Atari for $1.68 a share, equivalent to a cash payment of $11 million.

Following the merger, Atari will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infogrames.

The deal is expected to close in the third calendar quarter of 2008.

In connection with the transaction, Infogrames has committed to lend Atari $20 million, which will be used to fund Atari's operational cash requirements during the period between the date of the merger agreement and its closing.

Shares of Atari, the New York-based video game company, closed at $1.54.

Free Two Worlds Add-on

The promised patch for Two Worlds is now available to provide the Tainted Blood multiplayer add-on for Reality Pump's RPG. More than 30 new multiplayer quests are included in the update. The download is available from the Official Tainted Blood Download Site and mirrored on Gamer's Hell and The Patches Scrolls. Here's word:

Players can now go on the hunt for a crazy Necromancer, unsolve the mystery of a massacre in a woodcutters' camp, deal with a rebel knight (permanently) and lots more. The new add-on doesn't only give you a new series of Quests - it also opens up the doors to an all-new Business and Training Center! The town of Tharnburg offers you a large traders' district - and various arenas in which you can try out your newly-learned combat techniques right away.

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition Slight Delay

Eurogamer reports that June 6th is now D-Day for Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition. This represents a slight delay for the third-person shooter remake/follow-up's debut on the PC, which was announced with a May 27 release date (story).

How Valve Got Steamed

This Valve Q&A on GamesIndustry.biz talks with Valve's Doug Lombardi about a variety of topics, learning along the way that Valve was actually looking to industry leaders for a digital distribution scheme to suit their needs before deciding they needed create Steam for themselves after realizing folks like Yahoo and Microsoft were not up to it at the time:

You know, we went around to Yahoo, Microsoft...Who else was around at that time? Probably Real Networks and anybody who seemed like a likely candidate to build something like Steam.

We basically had our feature list that we wanted. We wanted auto-updating, we wanted better anti-piracy, better anti-cheat, and selling the games over the wire was something we came up with later. But we had like real world problems because Counter-Strike was getting huge and we would release these updates that would knock the 70 - 80 thousand simultaneous players right down to zero and it would take 48 - 72 hours for it to come back up and that was like this huge anxiety roller coaster that we would take every two or three months.

It also limited our ability to put those updates up because of that. It was like..."Well, if we're going to turn the lights off for 48 hours in the player community, the update needs to be worthy of that." So, you had to bundle up the things you were going to put up in the update or you're going to pull it out because you didn't want to take the roller coaster ride. So that was really the impetus to why we did [Steam].

We went around to everybody and said "Are you guys doing anything like this? We need this for our games, and therefore other people are going to need it someday soon." And everyone was like: "Blah, blah, blah...That's a million miles in the future." So we said "We need it now" and everyone said "Well, we can't help you."

So we just went off and started doing it. Once we pick something we just start going after it and we're not really too concerned with what other people are doing because that's just an easy way to get distracted.

Ships Ahoy - Dream Pinball 3D

SouthPeak Games announces Dream Pinball 3D is now available for PC, Wii, and DS:

GRAPEVINE, TX – April 30, 2008 – SouthPeak Games today announced that Dream Pinball 3D has shipped for the PC, Wii™ and Nintendo DS™. The dazzling pinball simulator combines striking 3D graphics, realistic physics and a refined control scheme tailored to the unique features of each platform.

“We have experience with classic bar room games and they have proven extremely popular titles with gamers,” said Melanie Mroz, CEO of SouthPeak Games. “Dream Pinball delivers a dose of nostalgia along with a great price point that makes it a must-buy for any fan of the genre."

Dream Pinball 3D merges stunning visuals with flawless gameplay. The game features realistic ball physics and motion blur effects as well as multiple dynamic and fixed camera positions. The title also features six pinball machines, each with its own theme, sound effects and music.

“With Dream Pinball 3D, our goal was to create the ultimate pinball simulator by combining realistic physics with controls that capitalize on the unique qualities of each platform,” said James Seaman, Managing Director of TopWare Interactive. “We’ve created an awesome gameplay experience that is a blast for both hardcore and casual gamers."

Dream Pinball 3D is rated E for Everyone and is available now for a suggested retail price of $19.99. For more on the game, please visit www.dream-pinball.com.

Galactic Command - Echo Squad SE Patch

This 3000AD Downloads Page has a new version 2.10.07 patch for Galactic Command - Echo Squad SE, 3000 AD's space combat game. The version control file outlines what's new and an issue still under investigation.

Follow-up/Correction: Apologies to Matt Damon

A post on Quarter to Three (thanks Rollory) references a link that appeared here last night to a story called Matt Damon OK With Movie Violence, Not OK With Game Violence (story), a headline loosely based on a paraphrased quote on MTV Multiplayer from a publicist saying Matt Damon's lack of participation in The Bourne Conspiracy console game is because the star "took issue with the game’s level of violence and pulled out." Tom Chick quite rightly points out that even taken at face value, that statement is a little different than the sentiment expressed in the headline we linked, and more to the point, presuming a PR representative for a game developer is accurately speaking on the sentiments of a third-party on a complex issue is not fair. Tom makes a point about the online media being like a game of telephone, leading to a conclusion I'll egregiously and incestuously blog/crosslink/cut-and-paste: "I fully expect this to work its way into a meme about Damon wanting to ban games." The original post here was pretty minor, but in light of the point about the telephone game, this correction is more prominent in attempting to prevent that. More importantly, going forward, stronger efforts will be made to be conscious of inaccuracies in tabloid-style headlines. In conclusion, please repeat along with me Matt's classic line from Team America: "Matt Damon!"

Evening Q&As

  • Project Origin
    Project Origin's Mechanized Combat and Bright Environments on IGN is a Q&A with John Mulkey accompanied by a couple of gameplay videos from the upcoming F.E.A.R. sequel, along the way learning exactly how the FEAR franchise has been subdivided: "Monolith created F.E.A.R. People liked it. VUG [Vivendi Universal Games] and Monolith split up with VUG taking ownership of the name and Monolith owning everything else to do with the franchise. VUG wants to expand on series, so they contract out the development of a couple of expansion packs that don't pan out that well. Now they are talking about creating 'F.E.A.R. 2' but they cannot legally base it on anything to do with the first game... and they have to find a developer to do it for them since it will not be Monolith. Meanwhile, you have Monolith, the creators of the original game making a game based on the characters, story and universe they created for the first title, but they cannot use the 'F.E.A.R.' name."
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines
    The Aliens: Colonial Marines Q&A on Computer and Video Games chats with Gearbox's Mike Gallo about all the face-hugging and chest-bursting goodness planned in the upcoming Aliens game. He says the story takes place right after the events in Aliens 2 & 3, and "answers some of the questions from those two movies," the most obvious of which for Aliens 3 would be 'what were they thinking?'
  • The Sims
    Dinner With Rod Humble: Sims Style Stuff on Rock, Paper, Shotgun is a Q&A with the head of EA's Sims division to discuss the series, the upcoming Sims 3, and how this will represent a return of hardcore gameplay (in that Sims sense, of course).
  • Mabinogi
    RPG Vault's Mabinogi Q&A - Part 1 talks with Nexon America's latest free-to-play westernization of an Eastern MMORPG, this one based on Celtic mythology.

Evening Previews

Evening Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts Patch

As noted on RelicNews a new update is now automatically available for Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, bringing Relic's World War II real-time strategy game to version 2.301. This thread contains the release notes detailing bug fixes as well as gameplay and map changes. The manual English patch is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell; the French patch is on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell; the Italian patch is on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell; and the German patch is on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

New Rising Eagle: Futuristic Infantry Warfare

Though it's not yet reflected on the Rising Eagle: Futuristic Infantry Warfare Website, a new version 1.2.2 of this free multiplayer tactical shooter is now available. The new release can be found on AtomicGamer, ComputerGames.ro, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

War Leaders - Clash of Nations German Patch

War Leaders - Clash of Nations is now up to version 1.2 thanks to a new patch that's now available for Enigma Software's World War II real-time strategy game. The patch is available on the War Leaders - Clash of Nations Website and mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Ships Ahoy - Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor

The Galactic Civilizations II Website has word that the Twilight of the Arnor expansion for Galactic Civilizations II is now available via Stardock Central (thanks Bill):

Stardock is pleased to announce the general availability of the second (and final) expansion pack to Galactic Civilizations II. The new expansion pack, Twilight of the Arnor, adds hundreds of new features, gives each civilization a unique technology tree, a unique set of planetary improvements, star base modules, ship parts, and more.

Moreover, with Twilight of the Arnor, Stardock went back and revamped the graphics for the game to bring them up to the state of the art. A new sound track has also been added along with updates to the computer AI. It also reintroduces the Terror Star, the ultimate weapon last seen in the original Galactic Civilizations as well as a new victory condition called Ascension. Online tournaments have also been added to allow people to compete at playing the same map and scenario and submit their scores to the GalCiv metaverse.

The expansion also includes the conclusion to the Dread Lords saga in the form of the Twilight of the Arnor campaign.

And finally, to keep the game evolving for years to come, Stardock includes a half dozen newly developed editors that will help modders and end users alike such as a map editor, scenario editor, campaign editor, tech editor, ship component editor, and much more.

The expansion pack is $29.95. It requires the previous expansion (Dark Avatar) to also be installed. New players can purchase the integrated "Ultimate Bundle" for $59.95 and get the entire Galactic Civilizations II saga.

Men of War Beta Postponed, Chat Planned

Digitalmindsoft has word that the multiplayer beta testing for Men of War (story) has been postponed to an unspecified future date, offering apologies and a shot at one of the remaining beta keys. They also mention a developer IRC session on Wednesday, May 7 to discuss the game and its features. Here's word on the delay:

We want to inform you that the Multiplayer Beta test of Men of War has been shifted due to some additional development time granted, since we want that you enjoy the game at the most and best condition we use this time to further expand the technology of Men of War and its features. You need to understand that Men of War is seen as a big quality and unique step in the Real-time Tactical genre and we really want to get the best out of the game to guarantee you a long term enjoyment with Men of War.

We are really sorry to hyped you guys up too early, but the decision couldn't been foreseen at this point.

We appreciate your understanding!

Crytek to End PC Exclusives

There's a Cevat Yerli Q&A on PC Play (thanks Eurogamer) with word that Crysis is likely the last PC-exclusive game from developer Crytek. Though he once again dismisses speculation that a console port of Crysis is in the cards, he places the blame for declining PC game sales squarely on the shoulders of software pirates, a theory that has become pretty commonplace. Word is:

We are suffering currently from the huge piracy that is encompassing Crysis. We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin, a chart leading that is not desirable. I believe that’s the core problem of PC Gaming, piracy. To the degree PC Gamers that pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we wont have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive anymore.

Team Fortress 2 Update, Free Weekend

Steam News has word that the Team Fortress 2 update that adds the new Gold Rush map is now automatically available via Steam and that Valve is kicking off a Team Fortress 2 free weekend starting Friday:

The Team Fortress 2: Gold Rush Update is now available, free to owners of Team Fortress 2 via Steam. The Gold Rush Update introduces the new Gold Rush map and Payload gameplay style, the first set of unlockable weapons, and a new set of achievements for the Medic.

In other TF2 news, a worldwide Team Fortress 2 Free Weekend will begin Friday at noon PDT, and will include access to the new content released today in the TF2: Gold Rush Update. Using the functionality made available through Steam and Steamworks, all of the files needed to join the Free Weekend are available for pre-loading now.

The Free Weekend is open to players around the world, and there is no obligation to purchase to participate; all that is needed is a Steam account to join.

To start pre-loading everything you need to play on Friday and learn more about Team Fortress 2, please visit www.steamgames.com/goldrush

Prototype Co-op?

Eurogamer has word from Radical Entertainment's Chris Ansell that cooperative multiplayer may be part of future installments in the Prototype series, should the series generate sequels beyond the first game's launch this summer. Here's the story, including an explanation of why co-op was cut from the feature list of the prototype for the Prototype series: "We were excited about the idea, and still are, but we decided to put all our effort into single-player. So far the forum reaction's been to back up that idea. Games like Mass Effect and BioShock have had great success with a solid single-player, and we'd like to emulate that to make an amazing single-player game."

EA-Land Ending

EA-Land Blog has word that EA-Land is going offline (thanks Eurogamer), a bit over two months after it this revival The Sims Online was re-launched (story), arguably a predictable end to a project that didn't gain enough traction when it shared the title of one of gaming's biggest franchises. The associated posts are a bit confusing, as the refer to billing for what we understood to be a free service, and blog posts stretch back to when this was still The Sims Online, but the bottom line is EA-Land is being plowed under:

It is with mixed emotions that today we are announcing the EA-Land experiment will soon draw to a close. Since 2002, EA-Land / TSO has attracted a very special group of players (of which you are one) and we certainly appreciate your participation in the EA-Land community. The lifetime of the game has drawn to an end, and now we will be focusing on new ideas and other innovative concepts in the games arena. We’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in this online community as a unique experience in the virtual world.

Lost Empire Immortals Patch Plans

Paradox Interactive announces the lunatics have taken over the asylum, as one of their users is working on a new patch for Lost Empire Immortals:

New York, USA (April 30, 2008) - Paradox Interactive revealed today a new patch in the works for 4X strategy game Lost Empire: Immortals. The patch will be user lead, and headed by an active gamer and hobby developer. The experienced modder goes by the name of bman654 on the Paradox Lost Empire Immortals forums.

"There's been great interest from gamers to be more actively involved in the upcoming progress of Lost Empire: Immortals and this is a great way to make that happen", said Fredrik Wester, Executive Vice President of Paradox Interactive.

The patch will be released in BETA intervals with open access to those wishing to contribute to its development. Please go to http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=374 for more information.

To read more about Lost Empire Immortals, please go to: http://www.paradoxplaza.com/lostempire

New Mount&Blade

The Mount&Blade Website offers a new version 0.950 of this action/RPG. Word is: "This is not the final version yet, but we have put in most of the features we are planning to, and after this, our job will mostly be polishing rough corners and fixing bugs and problems. To this end, I hope that you will help us, as you always do, by providing feedback, comments and bug reports. We have the basics here, but there is still a lot to do, especially in terms of long term game balance, but I am sure, together, we'll create a stable and very fun game by the time we have the final release." The download is mirrored on ComputerGames.ro and Gamer's Hell.

По-русски Demo

Buka Entertainment and Targem now offer a playable Russian demo for Sledgehammer, which Babel Fish says is written По-русски in Russian. This sample of the truck driving simulation can show you 'round its fruitcage ('cause it will be your honey bee), but some comprehension of Russian is probably advisable. The 469 MB demo is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Help Wanted

The Splash Damage Website puts out the call for artists, as the UK-based developer seeks a 3D artist, a 3D animator, and a texture artist. Likewise, Reloaded Studios has posted job listing for a Lead Environment Concept Artist and a Lead Animator for their studio, which is based in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Deep Silver North America

Koch Media and Deep Silver announce the opening of North American offices for Deep Silver:

Hermosa Beach, Calif. -- Apr 30, 2008 -- Deep Silver, Inc., a publisher of interactive entertainment software for PC and consoles and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Media, today announced the opening of their office in the Los Angeles metro area. The office will serve as headquarters for US sales and marketing activities, as well as North American developer relations.

"The opening of our United States office represents an important milestone in the development of Koch Media," commented Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, CEO of Koch Media. "In the last five years, Deep Silver was able to successfully position itself as a quality brand, and now enters the North American market with its own branch office. With a presence in the USA, we can market our own products more efficiently, all over the world."

"Opening an office in America means establishing Deep Silver in the world's largest market for games," said Cathy Tische, vice president of sales and marketing at Deep Silver. "The geographical location right in the center of the American games industry is ideal for future growth, and for building a network of business partners."

Deep Silver, Inc. is located at 2615 Pacific Coast Highway #225, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254-2250, USA.

In the past years, Koch Media recorded continuously growing sales. The overall turnover of the entire Koch Media group grew by double-digit percentages each year. The Koch Media group's annual sales volume for the year 2007 came to 231 million euros. In 2007, Deep Silver Vienna was founded as the first own development studio; the focus is clearly on own brands and multi-platform products with global market potential. The US expansion reinforces Koch Media's position as a leading independent publisher.

Op Ed

Morning Preview

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Wednesday Game Reviews

Wednesday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I got to check out a bit of GTA IV single-player (I admire to boldness of those who have already jumped into the multiplayer component: I feel I'm still just getting my feet wet). Obviously, the harshest critics of the series don't actually play these games; I wonder how surprised they'd be to learn just how plot-intensive GTA IV is. There is one hell of a lot of storytelling going on there.

R.I.P.: Albert Hofmann, the Father of LSD, Dies at 102.

Plot-heavy Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Abstracta.
Story: The Ultimate Act of Sportsmanship.
Feds: School bomb plotter wanted to kill Jesus.
Science!: World's first cloned horse has foal.
Images: Stunning LEGO Creations. Thanks Digg.
Media: New Indy Commercial. QuickTime format.
Mazda destroys 4,703 shiny new cars worth $100 million.



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