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Wednesday, Aug 06, 2008

  

Warhammer Online Interview & Open Letter

The E3 Interview with Mythic's Adam Gershowitz talks with the Associate Art Director on Warhammer Online about the upcoming fantasy-themed MMORPG. Topics include the name change from Mythic to EA Mythic and back again, the content that was cut from the game, and details on what players should expect from the project when it launches. The conversation was recorded, so you can choose to read it or listen to it, or both, if that floats your boat. Meanwhile, there's an open letter from Mark Jacobs on the Vault Network Forums where the Mythic GM discusses today's announcement of a September 18 release date for the project. He discusses the date, subscription pricing, and when the NDA for beta testers will lift, as well as the portions reproduced below, which covers the various editions of the game, open beta testing, and how they interrelate. He also mentions a Preview Weekend, which could possibly end up including some folks who haven't already pre-purchased the game:

3) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, I’m pleased to announce that we will be holding a special “Preview Weekend” in addition to the normal Open Beta. Those people who pre-ordered the CE will be given priority entrance into the PW. You will need to download the client (of course) from one of several download options, none of which will require any additional payment of any kind. Once the CE buyers have had their chance to register and download the client, we will allow our Closed Beta testers into the PW as well. We would like to have around 100K people load testing and playing the game so depending on how many CE purchasers sign up for this, we will invite other people into the PW as well.

4) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, we are extending the Head Start for the pre-order CE (not the SE) buyers by at least an additional day as an added thank you for buying our CE. Just as with the PW, no additional fee will be required to play in our Head Start.

5) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, we are pleased to announce that we will also be inviting our pre-order CE buyers into our Closed Beta test starting next week. There will still be some hardware spec requirements (but they are much lower than our current requirements) since we are still in Closed Beta but we expect that the vast majority of our PO CE buyers will meet the lowered requirements. We gotten a lot of feedback from the community on this point over the last few weeks asking for this and we are now going to make it happen.

6) Regarding the start of OB, we are still working out all the details and when we are 100% locked into a date, we will be happy to confirm it unequivocally. As the history of MMOs has shown, a bad OB can hurt both the long-term and the short-term the success of a game just as surely as a great OB can help the game succeed and we need to make sure that we are ready for OB on the day it begins.

Tim Willits Interview

The id Software Interview on AtomicGamer is another conversation with Tim Willits at QuakeCon, offering thoughts from id's Creative Director (but not one of the company's co-founders as stated in the article) on a variety of topics. One of those is how Rage will differ on each of its three target platforms: "But each system will play to its strengths and as we get closer to shipping the big thing you'll notice between the 3 systems is the multiplayer, how they handle, the tracking, the friends, and then we'll make some adjustments to the PC version just because with the keyboard and mouse you have a bit more accuracy. But really, we're trying to do it all at the same and trying to make a fun game for all of the platforms. That's something new for us but so far we've been successful."

Quantum of Solace Q&A

Garrett Young talks Quantum of Solace on Play.tm chats with the executive producer on Treyarch's upcoming James Bond game, discussing the participation of actors from the Bond movies, previous James Bond games, the inclusion of scenes from Casino Royale, portraying the recent rebooted Bond character, and more.

Indies on Being Indie

Going Rogue on The Escapist offers commentary from a number of independent developers on the topic of their independence, delving into their motivations. Respondents include Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment, Chris Evans of Outside the Box Software, Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games, Steve Taylor of Wahoo Studios, and our buddy Cliff Harris of Positech Games.

PLAYXPERT Open Beta

PLAYXPERT is now out of closed beta testing, offering an open beta of this "overlay" utility that allows IM, music, web-browsing, and a number of other functions to be accessed from within games. Many gamers would rather run fewer background processes while games are running, but this can probably serve certain situations pretty well.

It Came from QuakeCon 2008, Part 8

Op Ed

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Okay, other issues I'm aware of with the new site are accessing user settings and the weird stray text on the post a message screen. If there's anything else going wrong on the user end, I'm not aware of it.

GameTap for Sale

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has word that Turner Broadcasting is seeking a buyer for GameTap, Turner's free and subscriber online game service. This revelation appeared in Turner's second quarter earning results, which also "mentioned an $18 million noncash impairment attributed to the sale of GameTap." As of now no potential buyers have been identified, but Gamasutra (thanks Mike Martinez) got the following optimistic statement from Turner: "There is considerable marketplace interest in the GameTap business and brand," said a Turner spokesperson of the pending sale. "We are considering various strategic options, but have reached no final agreement as yet. When there is a resolution, we will announce it."

NVIDIA PhysX Previews

NVIDIA plans on launching patches on August 12 to enable its GeForce 8-series and later graphics cards to run PhysX physics modeling on the GPU. Presumably an NDA about this expired today, as there are new previews of this new PhysX support on several sites, offering background, hands-on impressions, and benchmarks. You can find these previews on Custom PC, Elite Bastards, HotHardware, and The Tech Report. Here's a summary of the situation from the latter preview:

On August 12, Nvidia will release new graphics drivers that will allow owners of most GeForce 8, GeForce 9, and GeForce GTX 200-series cards to use PhysX acceleration without spending a dime. Along with the drivers will come a downloadable PhysX software pack containing free Unreal Tournament 3 maps, the full version of NetDevil's Warmonger, a couple of Nvidia demos, and sneak peeks at Object Software's Metal Knight Zero and Nurien Software's Nurien social-networking service. Nvidia provided us with early access to the pack, and we've been testing it over the past couple of days.

Grand Theft Auto IV PC

Rockstar Games Announces Grand Theft Auto IV for the PC for release this November, confirming strong suspicions that a PC edition of the open world action game was on the way:

Grand Theft Auto IV will be arriving on the PC on November 18th and 21st in North America and Europe, respectively

“We are very excited to be releasing the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV,” said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games. “The whole team is dedicated to bringing an amazing gaming experience to the PC. The game looks and plays beautifully on PC and we can’t wait for people to play it.”

Developed by series creator Rockstar North and set in Liberty City, the latest installment in the enormously successful Grand Theft Auto series features a painstakingly detailed and life-like city for players to explore; a rich, immersive narrative experience; an original soundtrack highlighting the cultural eclecticism of Liberty City; and newly expanded multiplayer just for the PC.

For more information please visit: http://www.rockstargames.com/IV.

Afternoon Consolidation

Project RPB = Risen

The Project RPB teaser countdown (story) has expired, and now reveals a new Risen teaser, which consists of a teaser image, and maddeningly, another countdown timer for Piranha Bytes upcoming RPG (thanks mocib). The World of Piranha site has be supplanted by the World of Risen page, which is entirely in German, but besides offering a German-language forum, really only seems to be selling t-shirts at the moment anyway. The countdown currently stands at about two weeks, so more time will probably pass before we get real details on the new RPG project from the folks behind the Gothic series. Update: The following press release offers a bit more, and confirms more information on the game will be released at the Leipzig Games Convention that will kick off on August 20, coinciding with the end of that countdown:

Deep Silver, the video game label of Koch Media, a leading producer and distributor of digital entertainment products, and the Piranha Bytes team announce the name of their joint role-play project: Risen.

With Risen, Piranha Bytes introduces a fresh, new setting. The game’s protagonist is shipwrecked after a storm and finds himself on a mysterious island. An active volcano dominates the scene. Ancient temple ruins have recently risen from the ground, and bizarre creatures infest the island.

″Piranha Bytes have already proven their enormous talent for creating both enthralling and profound role-playing worlds. With Risen, the team presents a new exciting scenario providing a great variety of adventures, which will keep players glued in front of their monitors.″ says Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, Managing Director of Koch Media.

Further information about Risen will be presented at the Games Convention.

The new teaser site provides a close up of the glowing volcano. A newsletter provides readers with the latest news. The website is located at: http:\\risen.deepsilver.com

The working title of Risen has been ″Project RPB″.

Massive on the Market

RTS developer Massive Entertainment is apparently being shopped around, as Videogaming247 reveals more potential fallout from the formation of Activision Blizzard as the newly merged giant assesses its roster of games and developers. They learned of the situation while speaking with Martin Walfisz at the Develop conference, where the Massive Entertainment president and founder told them: "Apparently they didn’t want an RTS studio in Europe, and to be honest we would have loved to have worked with Activision, but we’re pretty confident in our capabilities and there are not many studios that can match our quality." Complicating the situation is that Activision Blizzard owns the World in Conflict intellectual property as well, and while Massive is currently working on the Soviet Assault expansion for the RTS game, it is possible that the IP could be sold off in a separate transaction:

“Activision won’t publish [Soviet Assault], no,” said Walfisz. “That’s part of the whole situation now. In theory they could sell World in Conflict separately from Massive. I think that any buyer would like to make sure it goes together, but we don’t own it. Activision owns it, so that’s their call.”

While options are opening for the developer, the company is now effectively in limbo. Walfisz was confident, though, that Massive will pull through.

“I think that right now everyone is in ‘wait and see’ mode and just want to know what the future holds,” he said.

WAR Declared on September 18

EA Prepares for War and Announces Ship Date for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning announces September 18 as the day of reckoning for Warhammer Online. This means Mythic's fantasy themed MMORPG will be available a few days earlier than indicated by a recent rumor (story), and they note, "WAR will be the first MMORPG to launch servers simultaneously in North America, Europe, and Oceania." The announcement outlines bonuses that can still be earned by preordering and subscription plans in addition to a straight monthly $14.99 fee. Here's a bit:

FAIRFAX, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hot on the heels of spectacular showings at E3 and Comic-Con, Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) studio, today announced that fans will be able to enter the gritty fantasy world of Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning™ (WAR) on September 18th, 2008 when the highly-anticipated MMORPG goes live. After three years in development by Virginia-based Mythic Entertainment, WAR will open its North American, European and Oceanic servers and offer players a variety of flexible subscription options. Gamers who pre-order WAR in North American will enjoy special benefits including open beta admission, a live game head start, and bonus in-game items.

Based on Games Workshop’s epic and longstanding tabletop fantasy war game, WAR is a unique MMORPG that features revolutionary Realm vs. Realm™ (RvR) gameplay that will immerse players in a world of perpetual conflict for years to come. WAR has been recognized for its unique play style that appeals to novice MMO players while offering incredible depth for more seasoned players.

WoW Friends with Benefits

Blizzard Entertainment announces an exclusive World of Warcraft mount that can be earned via their Recruit-A-Friend program (thanks IncGamers). Complete details on the program can be found in the Recruit-A-Friend FAQ, and here's the summary from their website:

With the new Recruit-A-Friend program you can earn an exclusive Zhevra mount, receive a FREE month of game time, and gain access to other exciting in-game benefits. From the moment your friend creates a character and starts playing you’ll both earn triple the experience when grouped together and have the ability to summon one another from anywhere in the world. Also, for every two levels of experience your friend earns, they can grant one level of experience to one of your lower-level characters.

Theatre of War 2 Announced

Battlefront.com announces Theatre of War 2: North Africa 1943, and offers up the first screenshots and videos from the World War II strategy sequel in the works at 1C that is said to be "scheduled to be completed near the end of this year." The media and game info can be found on the game's official website, and here's a bit:

The game presents more than 40 types of different vehicles, new types of units, improved graphics and sound, a new advanced visual system that considers observation angle and smoke screens, combat inside buildings and hand-to-hand fighting, a brand new interface, improved soldier AI, and an improved infantry damage system. Special attention is being devoted to multiplayer and user created missions.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Release Details

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Coming To North America This Fall reaffirms the autumn release date announced with the sports sequel (story), and offers some detail on the game, like so:

Slated for a fall 2008 release Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 combines the attention to detail that has been the series’ hallmark with extensive new additions that are certain to cement the franchise’s reputation as the world’s definitive soccer title for any format.

Known by millions of fans for its superior gameplay and incredible realism, PES 2009 will further bridge the gap between PES and the real thing. The game has undergone a stunning graphical update to ensure its players look more like their real-life counterparts. Similarly, all-new options allow users to tailor the game to their own tastes, while new stylish moves, innovative control schemes and key online elements further the realism.

Bad Time at Spacetime

The Spacetime Studios Website (thanks Develop) has some unfortunate news about layoffs at the indie developer at work on Blackstar, a science-fiction MMORPG:

Our company has been entirely self-funded the for the last six months while we tried to find a publishing deal for ‘Blackstar.’ Throughout this period we have held onto our pre-production development team because, honestly, we think they are the best of the best. We have been shopping Blackstar around but - right now, at least – the concept of a SciFi space/ground IP has proven to be a challenge. Our studio cannot survive at its current burn rate without a publishing deal, so we face a necessary (though very difficult and painful) decision. We are scaling down from thirty-two down to sixteen folks in the hopes of developing a pitch, a prototype and another publishing deal.

We will be letting some very good folks go. They will receive extended benefits and we will be doing everything we can to help them land on their feet again. We consider these people to be the cream of the crop, so if you are looking to staff up your team please drop us a line at jobs@spacetimestudios.com.

id Software Interview

John Carmack Interview: The Godfather of Frag's Plan to Save PC Gaming on Maximum PC is their chat with the id Software Technical Director as well as Creative Director Tim Willits. The part about saving PC gaming seems a reference to Quake Live, and a number of other questions cut to core issues of PC gaming today, including the impact of piracy, cross-platform development, DirectX and OpenGL, Rage at 60Hz, the next DOOM at 30Hz, and more.

New HL2 Fistful of Frags

A new version 1.55 beta of the Fistful of Frags western-themed modification for Half-Life 2 is now available. Word is: "Here comes a new beta, this one is meant to fix and tweak core parts of our gameplay. The result is a faster and funner game we hope, but still preserving the realism characteristic of Fistful of Frags."

Morning Previews

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Half of the forum posting issue I mentioned is cleared up, so there's just one detail to fix after our sever move (right now if you are posting the first post to a story, the "post a comment" screen doesn't show up until you hit the "new comment" button). Other than that, everything seems to be working normally. Once again, please feel free to bring any glitchy behavior to my attention. Thanks!

Normal Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Shore Siege.
Caravan Tossing.
Links: A History of Violence: 6 Old School Games as Brutal as GTA.
Stories: The massive 8ft eagle that chases tennis balls in the ultimate game of fetch. Thanks Digg.
Highest Traces of Cocaine Found on U.S. Bills. Thanks zombie69.
Farmer Erects 'Redneck Stonehenge,' a Fence Made of Old Automobiles. Thanks brother19. Needs a photo.
Science: Personal Health - Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions.
'DIY' kidney machine saves girl.
Musical key to unlocking teenage wasteland. Out here in the fields…
Media: Temp Fortress 2.
See the Mirror's Edge demo re-created in Portal.
Triumph full uncensored speech at Comic Con 2008. NSFW.
Follow-ups: Missing Rocket, Missing Remains.
Next try for $2 million lunar-landing challenge. Armadillo Aerospace involved again.
South Korean firm delivers commercial dog clones.



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