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Thursday, Mar 19, 2009

  

StarCraft II Beta Invites Coming?

Battle.net has relaunched with a new look and feel, and StarcraftWire.net reports that not only does registering automatically opt you into applying to beta testing Blizzard's sci-fi RTS sequel, but that the first invites are already going out (though only to randomly selected members, not everyone gets invited). In other StarCraft II news, some new screenshots are online showing off the new replay functionality, and the StarCraft II Q&A Batch #50 is now online.

MLB Dugout Heroes Open Beta

Play ball! MLB Dugout Heroes has entered open beta testing, allowing full access to this subscription-free sports MMOG. Don't forget your cup!

Team Fortress 2 Patched

Steam now offers yet another new update for Team Fortress 2. The new version of the teamplay shooter fixes a decal related crash and removes the upper limit for the "tf_flag_caps_per_round" convar for clients, and for servers, it stops players being kicked with an "INVALID_STEAM_TICKET" rejection and adds a message to the server console to show when the server has reconnected to Steam.

Sins & Entrenchment Patched

The Sins of a Solar Empire Website has news that a new version 1.16 of Sins of a Solar Empire is now automatically available via Impulse, as is a new version 1.02 of the Entrenchment add-on for Ironclad's space strategy game. This forum post has the details on the new Sins patch, while the Entrenchment patch is outlined in this thread.

Mac Commander Europe at War Patch

Freeverse now offers a new patch to update the MacOS edition of Commander Europe at War to version 1.06. The new version includes performance improvements, balance tweaks, bug fixes, and more, all outlined in this forum post.

Demigod Movie

A new Demigod movie offers a look at a battle with The Vampire Lord in Gas Powered Games' upcoming team-based action/strategy game. The clip is posted on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

  • The Godfather II on IGN.
  • Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim on IGN.UK.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla on Eurogamer and IGN.
  • World of Warcraft on IGN. Patch 3.1 Report.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

R.I.P.: Natasha Richardson. Should've posted that earlier. Thanks Ant.

Zeno Clash Pre-Sale

Steam announces a 24 hour prepurchase sale for Zeno Clash, the upcoming melee fighting game from ACE Team. The game will be half-off between now and 8:00 pm tomorrow in preparation for its release on April 21. Word is: "ACE Team's debut title, Zeno Clash is an action/fighting game set in a punk fantasy world. The game blends first person action with up close and brutal combat made popular in third person console classics. The game's art style pushes the boundaries of the Source engine features (the same used to create Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, etc) and represent a departure from the visuals seen in any of today's games."

Wolfenstein Website

Wolfenstein.com is now online as home to Raven's upcoming entry in the Wolfenstein series of World War II shooters. The site offers the QuakeCon reveal trailer, some previously released art, and a preliminary developer blog, as well as a "mission" system where the first mission is to sign-up to "receive 100 gold," though it's not clear what this gold will buy you.

Far Cry 2 DLC

Steam News has word that the Fortunes Pack is now available as new DLC for Far Cry 2, for $4.99. Word is: "This pack includes three brand new weapons, two new vehicles, and five new Multiplayer maps."

GameRanger Notifications

GameRanger announces a new feature in this independently developed game server browser they hope will extend the multiplayer life of PC games by providing a notification when players are playing one of your preferred games. Word is:

GameRanger's new notifications mean that people can be always ready for a game even while occupied with other PC activities by simply having the GameRanger icon in the system tray. This increases the pool of available players for all games at all times. Once people have decided they want to play, GameRanger handles the rest so they have no need to worry about the usual headaches of network issues or connection problems.

Most multiplayer games have a spike of activity just after release and then trail off, making it increasingly harder to find others to play against. Some games never even reach the levels needed for their built- in lobbies and auto-matching in the first place. Potential players end up quitting out of frustration or boredom before they find a match, perpetuating the problem, because they can't do anything else while they wait.

No BioShock 2 Subtitle

Primotech follows up on the lack of a subtitle in the recent Game Informer preview of BioShock 2, as previous indications were the game would be called BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams. The response to their query to 2K Games community manager Elizabeth Tobey, who says the game does not actually have a subtitle: "You won’t be seeing 'Sea of Dreams' moving forward, just 'BioShock 2'."

MSIE 8 Live

The Internet Explorer 8 Homepage now offers downloads of Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 (thanks Ant), as the new installment in MS's web browser is now out of beta. Among other things, they tout the new version's security, though IE 8 was a day one victim of Pwn2Own along with Safari and Firefox.

Runes of Magic Live

Frogster America announces that Runes of Magic is out of beta testing, and the subscription-free MMORPG is now officially live. There's an interview with Frogster's Sean Kauppinen on Ten Ton Hammer discussing the conclusion of the beta period, and here's the announcement:

SAN FRANCISCO – March 19, 2009 - Frogster America, Inc. today announced the official launch of Runes of Magic, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that is redefining the standard for free-to-play titles. Starting today, players can immerse themselves in the first chapter of the game, Rise of the Demon Lord, and experience the wonders of Taborea. Runes of Magic is available as a free download from the official website at: www.runesofmagic.com.

Anyone who has not yet registered can do so for free at the official website and begin adventuring immediately. Players with existing accounts can continue to use their characters created during the beta and can also expect an expanded game world in comparison with the previous open beta version. New quests and an epic quest series, as well as new instances, offer fresh game content. A final fine-tuning of the German and English translations and bug fixes have also been implemented.

The fantasy world will soon been expanded with the addition of ‘Ravenfell’, a coastal area with a distinct pirate feel. The game world will be further complemented by regular updates following the release.

Settlers: Rise of an Empire Patch

A new patch for Settlers: Rise of an Empire is now available to update the sixth installment in Blue Byte's city building RTS series to version 1.7. The patch removes the copy protection that requires the game disc be in the drive in order to play. You can download the 161 MB patch from The Patches Scrolls.

New Wolfenstein Trailer "Tomorrow"

Raven Software announces that tomorrow night's episode of Gametrailers TV will offer "the exclusive first-ever look at the new Wolfenstein in action." Neither point is completely accurate, as the "Friday night" episodes of the program actually air on Saturday morning at 1:00 am, and the first look at the World War II shooter remake came at last year's E3, in a trailer that was expanded for QuakeCon. Anyway, here's the word on the program: "This half-hour special features the World Premiere of a brand new trailer, a first-look at one of the game's bosses, loads of exclusive gameplay footage, your first look at cut-scenes and interviews with members of id Software & Raven Software. Check out GTTV, Friday night at 1 AM Eastern/Pacific on Spike TV. (Airs at 10 PM Pacific on DirecTV)." Thanks Ant and Planet Wolfenstein.

Mortal Online Beta Signups

Mortal Online Beta Signups are now being accepted for Star Vault AB's upcoming MMORPG. To apply potential testers must first register for the Mortal Online Forums. There aren't any details about when testing begins, the only accompanying note says: "Please be patient if the server times out. Beeing [sic] the first to register doesnt [sic] improve your chance to be selected." Thanks IncGamers.

Giving Devs/Pubs a Cut on Used Games

Online used games marketplace SwitchGames announces a new plan to give developers and publishers a cut of used games sold via their service. This could help redress some of the constant industry complaining about used game sales, though in an interesting twist, they are putting the decision about cutting in devs and pubs in the hands of the consumer:

“We want to tackle a fair concern head-on,” said SwitchGames founder and CEO Jason Crawford, “and I think we’ve arrived at a practical solution. Current annual used game sales of $2.4 billion are a goldmine for retailers. But neither game publishers nor developers can touch that revenue. SwitchGames is changing that. When gamers sell used titles on SwitchGames they’ll have the option to share a percentage of a used game sale with the people who actually made the game. Like everything else at SwitchGames, gamers are always in control and it’s up to them to decide whether they’d like to cut in developers and publishers.”

Today, SwitchGames also announced a developer contract provision available on its website. The contractual language entitles developers to a percentage of any proceeds paid to publishers by SwitchGames. SwitchGames encourages developers to copy and paste the text into their development contracts with publishers. Find the provision text at: http://www.switchgames.com/contract_provision.php

EndWar Patches

The Ubisoft Forums serve up a pair of new patches for Tom Clancy's EndWar to update either the retail boxed version or the digitally distributed version of the RTS game to version 1.01. The Patches Scrolls offers the complete change list (mostly bug fixes) for the new version, and the retail patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and The Patches Scrolls and the digital distribution patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and The Patches Scrolls.

Empires in Arms Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for Empires in Arms, updating the turn-based strategy game to version 1.05.05. Word is: "The update comes with several bug fixes including a fix for a bug with guard commitment, a fix for possible game looping in the naval phase, fixes for the Insurrection corps, foraging bug fixes, and more." The patch is on the Matrix Games Website and mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamesonice.

SyFy Game Deals

Develop has word that Acclaim and ZooKazoo have new game development deals with SyFy, the cable network formerly known as the Sci Fi Channel. The first game to result from this deal is a youth-oriented online world from ZooKazoo, and while Acclaim's current focus would indicate their end of this will also be MMOGs, that's not spelled out just yet. Meantime, Penny Arcade (thanks Ant) explains the channel's new name, while io9 offers a list of 25 better alternative names for the Sci Fi channel, including "The Sci-Fi, But That's Not A Bad Thing Channel" and "The Why Isn't Battlestar Galactica On Anymore Channel."

City of Heroes Issue 14 Beta

The City of Heroes Official Forums announce that open beta testing of Issue 14 for City of Heroes is now open to subscribers to NCsoft's superhero MMORPG. Issue 14 introduces the Mission Architect that will allow user-created missions. The post also outlines how user-created missions will work within the game, and how missions will be ranked by both players and developers, with badges and awards to be handed out for highly rated designs. Thanks Massively.

Team Fortress 2 Multicore Rendering

Steam has news that a new update is now automatically available for Team Fortress 2. The new version addresses a crash under Vista 64, adds alt-tab and mode-switching tweaks, performance improvements, and a new multicore rendering option, which is turned off by default for now since the first release of this option is for compatibility testing.

Ships Ahoy - The Path & More

Steam now offers worldwide digital distribution of of Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X, Ubisoft's new aerial combat game. Also now on Steam is The Path, "a short horror game inspired by older versions of Little Red Riding hood, set in modern day." This indie horror title is the latest project from developers of The Graveyard. Also, now on DRM-free retro marketplace GOG.com is the sci-fi RTS Earth 2140 Trilogy, the point-and-click adventure Jack Orlando: A Cinematic Adventure, and Apogee's shooter sequel Blake Stone: Planet Strike.

Windstorm Studios

IGN has word that Windstorm Studios is the third new development studio formed from the ashes of now closed Ensemble Studios, following the formation of Robot Entertainment by Tony Goodman and other Ensemble vets and Bonfire Studios by 35 other Ensemble expatriates. The new developer is founded by Dusty Monk, and while their plans are not clear yet as they are currently rounding up funding, their splash page indicates we may soon get our flying cars, at least in an online game:

Windstorm Studios is an independent game studio whose mission is to bring a new era to online gaming! Are you tired of online games filled with depressing predictions of post apocalyptic destruction? Are you weary of walking through grey streets beneath grey skies and killing grey zombies? Have you had your fill of dank cellars and dark caves? Well so have we! And we’re ready to build a brighter world! A better online game - a game with the promise of of a hopeful future -- cities of glass and steel, and most importantly, flying cars!

Morning Consolidation

Derek Smart Interview

The Derek Smart Interview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun talks with the main man at 3000AD about All Aspect Warfare and his storied career. Derek express his opinion that the space combat genre is "as dead as a doornail" in outlining the reason for switching to a game based on planet-side ground and air combat as a project to fill the gap before the release of 3000AD's MMOG. He also expresses some of the strong opinions for which he's known, with critical comments about Steam, skepticism that a new Elite game will ever be made, the "injustice" of Metacritic scores, and the bloat and mismanagement that leads to the prevalence of high-budget games, a situation he blames on Electronic Arts. The conversation then covers further details about All Aspect Warfare.

Op Ed

Adventure Classic Gaming - Adventure game puzzles we have known and hated.
"A vivid example of puzzles falling into this trap, to the point of parody, is in Shadowgate. Although the game is largely a standard adventure, it has an extensive list of inventory objects that players can collect, many of which are not actually used in the game. The majority of the game’s puzzles simply consist of using the right inventory object to bypass some barrier or defeat some monster, but in most cases, clues regarding which object is appropriate to use are vague or nonexistent. Death is so instantaneous and unpredictable, and the puzzle solutions so illogical, that the game appears to actually be self-consciously lampooning these adventure game clichés in deliberate fashion. As such, this game stands as an artifact of the adventure game industry providing its own social commentary."

Trembling Hand- Why Women Don't Make Games.
"There's evidence to suggest that this is because women simply aren't interested in such high-level abstract subjects, and are drawn away to other subjects during their education and subsequent career. But there's also evidence - and this'll sound controversial... heck, it got Larry Summers booted from Harvard for mentioning it - that women also aren't as proficient as men in high level mathematics."

Gatherings & Competitions

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well, it's supposed to be cooler tomorrow, but it's pretty clear that spring has finally sprung around these parts, as it's been pretty delightful the past few days, and it was actually still daylight when MrsBlue arrived home yesterday. The annoying thing is calculating back to Groundhog Day indicates that the weather turned almost six weeks to the day after the little rat saw his shadow. Curse you strangely accurate superstition!!!

Cursed Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Save the totem village.
Links: If Video Game Characters Could Switch Games.
The fugliest games ever made.
I've Seen It All Now- Extreme LED Sheep Art. Thanks dakslf.
Story: Space shuttle Discovery blasts off with bat stowaway.
Science: 'Armed' chimps go wild for honey.
Arctic sea monster's giant bite.
Media: Half-Life Hero - This is why everyone hates fan fiction
Mike Rowe teaches you how to stay fit in prison.
Claymation Chess.
Follow-ups: Kutiman - the sensation. Thanks dakslf.
The Funnies: The Gelatinous Cube - Cryostasis 2015.



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