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Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 29, 2009

  

UT3 Gets Steamy

Valve announces that owners of the Windows edition of Unreal Tournament 3 may now register their game with Steam, which will add automatic updates, a number of new features, and over 50 Steamworks achievements: "In preparation for the massive update coming for Unreal Tournament 3, those who own a retail copy may now register it with Steam, free of charge. The latest installment in the legendary online action series from Epic will be updated automatically via Steam and introduce support for Steamworks Achievements (with over 50 Achievements), plus a host of new features and enhancements in AI, Server Browsing, Demo Recording, Mod Support, and more. For more information or to register your copy of UT3 with Steam, please visit www.steamgames.com."

Crysis Warhead Patch Tomorrow

MyCrysis has word to expect the next patch for Crysis Warhead tomorrow, at 18:00 CET, which we think is Noon EST, but math was never our strong suit. The accompanying post outlines all that's planned for the patch, including the promised 64-bit executables.

Sins & Entrenchment Patched

The Sins of a Solar Empire Website announces a new update is now automatically available via Impulse to update the space strategy game to version 1.13. This change log has complete details on what's new and different. That same post also announces that the promised beta 2 of the Entrenchment add-on for Sins is now automatically available, and this change log has the skinny on what's new.

Call of Duty: World at War Double XP Weekend

Activision announces tomorrow will kick off a double-XP weekend for Call of Duty: World at War, an event that will run through Sunday in honor of the big game (shh, nobody say Super Bowl). The event includes the implementation of a couple of new playlists for console players: "Not only will players receive Double-XP, but due to popular request they will have two new playlists at their disposal for Xbox 360 and PS3: Team Tactical (4v4) and Mercenary TDM (no parties allowed)! Team Tactical will pit two teams of four against each other in a random rotation of all the Team-Based gametypes."

Cuts at Disney

Kotaku reports layoffs at Disney Interactive Studios, a story initially characterized as a rumor that has now been confirmed. The quote they got from Disney unsurprisingly blames these uncertain economic times for the cuts, saying: "In addition to all of these changes, we have also determined that Directors and above will not be receiving merit increases this year. All of these actions are part of a focused effort to ensure we are closely managing the organization through the current economic climate, balancing our need to respond to the current environment with our goal of driving significant long-term growth." Some of the cuts are said to be at Propaganda Games prompting the cancellation of Turok 2, a project that's never been officially announced. A follow-up on GameDaily sets the number of jobs lost at 30, significantly lower than the first report. They also offer a vague quote about Turok indicating Disney retains the rights to the franchise, and a less vague statement that Propaganda remains a two-team studio working on two separate unannounced projects.

Hotel Giant 2 Next Month

Enlight announces the service industry sequel Hotel Giant 2 is set to launch next month, offering a general "mid-February" as a release date. Word is: "Hotel Giant 2 features 26 locations from around the world including Paris, Los Angeles, Munich, Rome and Phuket for aspiring Donald Trumps to dominate the hotel market. The key to success is careful observation of your guests’ behaviour and monitoring their happiness in the surroundings you have created for them. Build restaurants, health clubs, swimming pools and business centres to appease their needs, all the while keeping a close eye on your ratings in order to achieve that coveted 100% customer satisfaction rating."

Secondhand Lands Launches

Secondhand Lands is now live, offering a subscription free MMORPG in an offbeat fairy tale world. Word is: "Secondhand Lands is a game that connoisseurs of the MMO genre will want to add to their repertoire. Crafters can make the most sophisticated items in game – cigars, antlers, butterfly wings, and jetpacks – using loot that drops from creatures in the world. Power gamers will want to check out the skill system, which can be configured in billions of ways." There is also a new interview about the project on The Escapist.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Trailer

A new trailer from Batman: Arkham Asylum offers a look at the Dark Knight to brighten this dark night by setting the scene for the upcoming game starring the caped crusader. The movie is available on ActionTrip and AtomicGamer.

The Godfather II Trailer

A new "Don's View" trailer from The Godfather II is more of a consigliere's view, as it is narrated by Robert "Tom Hagen" Duvall, who explains some of the game mechanics in the upcoming organized crime sequel. The clip is available on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Blood Bowl Movie

The third of the promised four cinematic movies from Blood Bowl shows off another race/team in the fantasy-themed sports game. Word is: "As shown in the video, a running Skaven player is nearly impossible to capture, as he can dodge in and out of the defensive lines with ease, and if that fails, they can always call in a Rat Ogre for heavy support if needed!" The movie is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Red Alert 3 - Uprising Movie

A new Battlecast Primetime Minute offers a "Talent Announce Trailer" for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Uprising, celebrating the cast of thespian luminaries recently announced as part of the upcoming RTS add-on. The minute runs 1:43, which is the least wacky thing about the clip, which doesn't really feature any gameplay, but does feature a bit of one-sided combat between former pro wrestler Ric Flair, and the number one entry on our threat-down: bears! The clip is posted on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Scott at Bjorn3d has posted an update on his daughter's condition, which has been diagnosed as Hodgkins Stage 4B cancer. He's hoping some of us will be inspired to send her get well cards to let her know she's in our thoughts, and there is also a Support for Stephanie forum thread for that purpose.

The Lord of the Rings Online Free Trial

Turbine announces a partnership with Xfire to offer a free ten day trial of The Lord of the Rings Online. In conjunction with the trial, they also offer the chance to win prizes including game subscriptions, in-game items, and t-shirts. The ten-day free trial of Turbine's MMORPG can be downloaded from this page, while this page has details on how to qualify for those prizes.

Gears of War Grinds to a Halt

A post to the Epic Games Forums seeks relief for a problem launching the Windows edition of Gears of War causing the third-person shooter to return a message saying: "You cannot run the game with modified executable code. Please reinstall the game." The problem seems to be the result of an expired SSL certificate, similar to a problem suffered earlier this year by Lord of the Rings Online, and according to this forum thread, the same workaround of setting your system clock back can get the game running again until things are sorted out on the back end. According to a post here from Epic: "We have been notified of the issue and are working with Microsoft to get it resolved. Sorry for any problems related to this. I'll post more once we have a resolution." Thanks Shacknews and nin.

New ATI Drivers

The ATI Drivers & Software Page now offer new version 9.1 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI accelerators, which add full OpenGL 3.0 extension support under Windows and Linux. Additionally, the new version 9.1 Linux driver also adds support for Hybrid CrossFireX, Ubuntu 8.10 production, and MultiView. The Adobe Acrobat-format release notes have all the details.

Warhammer Online Free Expansion

Mythic Entertainment announces Call to Arms, the first expansion for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which will be rolled out over the coming months at no additional cost to subscribers to the MMORPG. New content in Call to Arms will include the Orc Choppa and the Dwarf Slayer careers and a new dungeon zone called Land of the Dead. The roll-out will also involve three in-game live events (Bitter Rivals, Beyond the Sands, and Rise of the Tomb Kings), a new RvR scenario, new functionality to the Realm Wars section of the WAR website, the opening of official forums, and a new free trial version of the game. Everything kicks off with the Bitter Rivals event in March. Further details are promised in the January newsletter, which does not yet seem to be online.

Cross Fire Open Beta Tomorrow

G4BOX Inc and Wicked Interactive announce plans to launch open beta testing of Cross Fire tomorrow at Noon eastern time, offering all comers the chance to check out this subscription- and download-free first-person shooter firsthand. The open beta will also mark the launch of the game's persistent military-ranking and stat-tracking, in-game friends lists, clan formation features, new maps, new weapons, and new items. Word is: "To celebrate Cross Fire's open beta launch, Subagames is hosting a number of events and promotions. During the first week of open beta, players will enjoy a 50% increase in the amount of GP earned in-game. This will allow Cross Fire players to purchase more of the new open beta weapons and items. In addition, the first 30 clans to register during the open beta will do so for free, at absolutely no GP cost!" In preparation for the open beta, the closed beta test will conclude at Noon eastern time today.

Free X-Com on GameTap

GameTap announces the newest addition to the free section of this subscription game service, as X-Com: UFO Defense has been added to their free roster. The classic strategy game will remain gratis until February 5. They also announce tomorrow will kick off a free play weekend for volume one of American McGee's Grimm, to be followed next week by a free play weekend for volume two. This will lead up to the launch of the third and final volume of episodes from the fairy tale-inspired series on February 12.

Activision & "Bullshots"?

IGN has an interesting tidbit from an Activision job listing on Gamasutra for an Art Services Screenshot Associate, "to produce high-quality screenshots, model renders and other art assets…for editorial, packaging, advertising, manuals and more, as needed." One of the skills the job listing calls for is: "Perform advanced retouching of screenshots and teach skills to others as needed," suggesting that one of the roles of such a position is to create doctored screenshots of upcoming games, the type of deceptive images cynical gamers have dubbed "bullshots." Thanks Ant.

Leipzig Game Show Axed

IncGamers has news that the annual Leipzig Games Convention has been cancelled, and is being replaced by a new Games Convention Online, which will concentrate on online and mobile gaming. They quote Leipzig CEO Wolfgang Marzin saying the new event will focus on "new business models, setting off along new sales routes and appealing to new target groups," in a changing industry.

NY Games Bill

GamePolitics has word on a proposed bill in New York State to protect minors from any game that "glamorizes... the commission of a violent crime, suicide, sodomy, rape, incest, bestiality, or sado-masochism." If passed, the bill would require such games to carry warning labels, be kept sealed from general customer access, and be available for parents to examine. The article points out the bill's vague language (in particular the use of the term "glamorizes") and conflicts with the US Constitution make it unlikely that this will end up sticking as a law as currently written.

WoW = Half of Acti-Blizz Earnings?

Edge Online has an interesting look at Activision Blizzard's earnings for fiscal 2009 from analyst Arvind Bhatia of Stern Agee, saying he expects World of Warcraft subscriptions represent about half of Activision Blizzard's earnings for the year, estimating the MMOG was responsible for 30 cents of the 60 cents per share he expects them to report. The article focuses on his lowered financial outlook for the company, as he previously anticipated 65 cents of earnings per share, but he is concerned about the publisher's financial guidance.

New Tribal Trouble 2

A new beta version 0.5 of Tribal Trouble 2 is now available, updating this web-based RTS game with balance tweaks, faster enemy AI, and a new 2 vs. 1 multiplayer island "for those players looking for a challenge." Additionally the game is now playable via Facebook, which will allow you and your BFFs to play the game without Tribal Trouble 2 accounts, as long as you have a Facebook profile.

New Zombie Panic! Source

A new version 1.5 of the Zombie Panic! Source modification is now available automatically via Steam. The website includes a change list for the new version of the undead mod, screenshots from the new maps, and screenshots and movies showing off the barricading function. Thanks Ant and Planet Half-Life.

Codename: Panzers Cold War Interview

Explosive Interview with Codename: Panzers Cold War's Peter Nyester on GameZone is an interview about the coming installment in the RTS series that leaves WW2 behind in favor of the chill of the Cold War. Topics include the setting and story, the new campaign, mission balance, environments, prestige points, weather, multiplayer, and more.

Op Ed

bit-tech.net - Abandonware: The Ethics and Essentials.
"Technically, no, abandonware is not legal. On the other hand though, yes, it is. Except there are some cases when it definitely is legal, or is certainly illegal. Basically, the legality of abandonware varies. To first get to grips with abandonware and understand the ethics of this whole miasmic mess it’s important to realise what qualifies a game as abandonware. While abandonware is generally just taken to mean an old game that can be downloaded for free, it actually isn’t that simple – there are a few different types of abandonware games."

Fidgit - Five reasons MMOs are broken, by Tom Chick.
"Assuming the first priority of game design is to create a good game, massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft have failed spectacularly, opting for commercial success instead of creative integrity, entertainment value, or compelling game design."

Ten Ton Hammer - The Tabula Rasa Autopsy- What Makes Games Die?
"The hope of getting out good end-game content and sprucing up mid-level content was darkened by the fact that nearly everyone knew that it wasn't there before Tabula Rasa even hit the shelves. It wasn't heralded by just a vocal few either, reviews were coming in from all over stating that TR was lacking some fairly major game aspects. Fans still held fast that maybe the content would make it in game eventually and the loyal few bought TR and kept on supporting it come hell or high water."

G4tv.com - Sessler's Soapbox: More DLC Please!
"The recent downloadable content that was released for Fallout 3 and Fable II showed Adam how much a prompt schedule of doling out the content can enhance his enjoyment of the game. Adam also thinks that if more games promised extended play with downloadable content within 4 months of the release of the game, some people might be more convinced that it's worth the purchase, and the game's sales will see a reasonable boost."

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Wow, that was some mess out there yesterday. I don't understand how that much rain could fall on the snow but not melt it all, but it sure made for some heavy shoveling. The conditions were set last night for some crazy ice this morning, so escorting MrsBlue to her morning train via ice skates may be in order. This storm has killed a lot of people on the roads already, I hope everyone is careful out there.

Icy Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Carnival Star.
Flash Empires 3.
Links: The Videogame Bosses' Guide to Success.
5 Bizarre Ways Video Games Are Screwing Up Your Health.
Live Free or Drown- Floating Utopias on the Cheap. Thanks loonybomber.
Stories: Peer reveals 'cello scrotum' hoax.
Man smears feces on his lawyer, flings it at jury. Thanks Digg.
Plan comes together for 'A-Team'. Thanks jimnms.
Science: How memories form, fade, and persist over time.
Smart robot capable of hunting for its own "food". How long before it hunts us?
Motor skill learning may be enhanced by mild brain stimulation. Thanks j.c.f.
Media: Left 4 Dead - Zoey gets Some. NSFW.
PETA's Veggie Sex Super Bowl Ad Rejected By NBC. NSFSB.
The Batman WaterPistol.
Follow-up: Florida Couple Gets $155G Cloned Dog. Thanks Neutronbeam.



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