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Thursday, Jun 25, 2009

  

ARMA II Specs

AltPlauF4.com has the system specs for ARMA II (thanks Mike Martinez).:

Minimum:

      • OS: Windows XP or Windows Vista
      • Processor: Dual Core CPU (Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz, Intel Core 2.0 GHz, AMD Athlon 3200+ or faster)
      • Memory: 1 GB RAM
      • Graphics: GPU (Nvidia Geforce 7800 / ATI Radeon 1800 or faster) with Shader Model 3 and 256 MB VRAM
      • Hard Drive: 10 GB free HDD space

Recommended:

      • OS: Windows XP or Windows Vista
      • Processor: Quad Core CPU or fast Dual Core CPU (Intel Core 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ or faster)
      • Memory: 2 GB RAM
      • Graphics: Fast GPU (Nvidia Geforce 8800GT or ATI Radeon 4850 or faster) with Shader Model 3 and 512 or more MB VRAM
      • Hard Drive: 10 GB free HDD space

Ships Ahoy - Rise of Flight

CompuExpert announces that Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War has landed at North American stores, and the World War I aerial combat game is also available via digital distribution:

Lake Forest, CA - Jun 25, 2009 CompuExpert announced today that PC flight- simulation Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War, developed by Russian developer neoqb and published by 777 Studios, is now available throughout North America at traditional retail outlets, as well as via major online game retailers including GoGamer.com and Amazon.

Rise of Flight is the eagerly anticipated World War I PC flight-simulation title from Moscow-based developer neoqb. The flight simulator, set in the Western Front in 1917, was built on the newly developed Digital Nature engine. More than 125,000 square kilometers of the territory have been redrawn from 20th Century maps. Rise of Flight allows virtual pilots to fly the famous Spad XIII and deadly Fokker D.VII biplanes in exciting dogfight battles. Featuring advanced physics, flight and damage models, Rise of Flight promises a realistic, challenging and fun experience for simulation fans of all stripes and skill levels. Rise of Flight also implements full 6 DOF TrackIR support and is compatible with the TripleHead2Go multi-monitor system from Matrox.

Rise of Flight has already drawn praise from critics. IGN.com lauded the game's art and customizability, saying "amazing graphics, with loads of options to customize the experience for the best performance." World War I Air Combat said Rise of Flight, "the most realistic WWI flight sim, in many ways the most realistic flight sim yet released, is soon bound for the hands of eager virtual pilots everywhere." Rise of Flight includes a Training Campaign and Single Player missions so players can hone their aerial combat skills. Once they are ready, flyers can embark on a Pilot Career that includes six stages from lieutenant to colonel, and begin one of several campaigns with squadrons for the French, British, German or American air forces. Throughout their careers, players can win awards, commendations and promotions for successfully completing their missions.

Mission types in Rise of Flight include fighter sweeps, bomber escort, bomber interception, balloon attack and ground attack. If they wish, players can use the powerful Mission Builder to create custom scenarios of their own and share them with their friends.

Flight-sim enthusiasts can also play with their friends over the Internet and wage their own virtual air wars against rival online squadrons. Even the greatest of Aces in World War I had a wingman, and Rise of Flight multiplayer action focuses on cooperative teamwork and completion of mission goals. Whichever way you choose to play Rise of Flight, it will surely thrill and excite any simulation fan.

Planned additions to the Rise of Flight experience in the coming months include more flyable aircraft, scenery, objects and features. Hurry! Grab your goggles, leather helmet and silk scarf. Enemy planes are approaching!

Mortal Kombat Film Lawsuit

GamePolitics reports that Mortal Kombat film producer Lawrence Kasanoff is suing Midway over the intellectual property rights to the fighting game. According to Kasanoff's legal filing, he was instrumental in development of the franchise over the past 16 years. Here's a bit:

The Mortal Kombat series, as it stands today, is far more a creation of Threshold and Kasanoff than of Midway. Midway's creative input was almost entirely limited to the videogames. On their own, the videogames provided only minimal back-story and mythology, and only flat, "stock" characters... Kasanoff and Threshold were responsible for virtually all of the creative input that went into turning the videogame concept into a multimedia enterprise.

GoD/GameCock Vets Form Devolver

Big Download notes that today's announcement of Serious Sam for XBLA reveals the involvement of Devolver Digital, which turns out to be a new company from Mike Wilson and Harry Miller, who previously cofounded publishers Gathering of Developers and GameCock. Their role in the new SS game is a little nebulous, as they are not yet an official MSFT publisher, but going forward they describe plans for a "production and publishing company based in Austin, Texas, specializing in delivering top quality entertainment to gamers worldwide at affordable prices by any and all means available."

John Carmack Interview

id's John Carmack and ZeniMax CEO on The Acquisition on JoyStiq discusses the ZeniMax acquisition of id Software. They point out that along the way, the id Technical Director and former co-owner indicates one thing that's changing in the future is that they will be bringing all development back in-house: "As we look back at the things with the external teams working on it, we've had some hits and some misses with that. It hasn't had the same record that our internally developed titles have, and what all of the publishers expressed to us when we were shopping future titles around was: it was going to be so much more valuable for everyone if we did develop them internally, and that was why we had already started the process of staffing up and working on the Doom 4 project and the idea was that eventually, we were going to wind up with three teams."

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Movie

A new "Six Chambers Multiplayer" movie from Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood offers yet another look at Techland's upcoming wild west shooter prequel. The clip is available on Gamer's Hell.

Dawn of War II Movie

Dawn Of War II Website now offers a new Battle Report movie showing off the upcoming There is Only War content update for the Real-Time Strategy sequel. The clip is narrated by Relic’s Multiplayer Designer Josh Long and Game Balance Designer Stefan Haines and shows off the game's new replay UI to recreate a 24 minute battle waged on the new Tyrannoformed 2p map, Leviathan Hive.

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Team Fortress 2 Patched

Steam News has word on a new automatic patch that's now available for Team Fortress 2 to update the multiplayer shooter. The update fixes a bunch of bugs, stops cl_flipviewmodels from working while connected (no more fancy gun switching, Tex!), and reverts the Force-A-Nature and airblast knockback to once again work on disguised Spies. The new version also has a couple of changes for the Linux dedicated server, and the patch notes also include a pair of balance changes from the last patch that were not noted at the time (The Ambassador no longer penetrates buildings and the movement speed penalty on The Razorback has been removed).

Trine Demo, Dates

A playable demo is now available for Trine, Frozenbyte's upcoming fantasy-themed action/platformer, so if you're not tryin' Trine, then you're not trying. The demo features the ability to play the tutorial and the game's first-level as any of Trine's three playable characters. The 461 MB download can be found on AtomicGamer, ComputerGames.ro, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. Those sites are reporting a July 3 release date for Trine, which is presumably in Europe, as SouthPeak Interactive announced today it has signed on as the game's North American publisher, setting the game's release as the more general "Summer 2009." Here's a bit of the game's description:

In Trine™, players work together to create and use objects to solve challenging physics-based puzzles and defeat dangerous enemies. Set in a kingdom on the verge of chaos, a warrior, a wizard, and a thief are bound by a powerful artifact known as "the Trine". Together, they must battle the forces of space, energy, and motion to put an end to the reign of the dark sorcerer that rules the kingdom.

Featuring three-player cooperative play, each character has specific talents to invent new solutions to puzzles and original ways to defeat enemies. The Wizard can use magic to create objects and new paths, the Thief can use her agility and accuracy to quickly deal with enemies, and the Warrior unleashes pure destruction everywhere he travels.

Men of War: Red Tide Announced

Aspyr Media and 1C Company announce Men of War: Red Tide, a standalone expansion for Men of War, the World War II real-time strategy sequel. Red Tide will not require Men of War to play, and the add-on is scheduled for release in North America this fall both at retail and via digital distribution:

Austin, Texas- June 25, 2009 - Aspyr Media has partnered with the leading Eastern and Central European publisher 1C Company to publish Men of War: Red Tide in North America. The stand-alone expansion to the critical hit RTS Men of War, Men of War: Red Tide introduces a new story driven campaign based on the writings of Soviet scribe Alexander Zorich and dozens of new or upgraded units and weapons. Men of War: Red Tide will not require the original Men of War to play.

Men of War: Red Tide is a stunning mixture of RTS and a third-person action that introduces a new fighting force known for its brutal efficiency during the height of World War II. Played out across more than 20 missions, Men of War: Red Tide has players take command of the feared "Black Coats," the nickname given to Soviet Marines, an elite combat group specializing in engagements near the shoreline. The player has direct control of new game units including the Black Coats, new tanks, self-propelled guns, armored trains, landing craft, artillery and new enemy emplaced weapons to capture and use. New air support options include new fighters, bombers, hydroplanes; cruisers, destroyers and gun boats which provide naval fire support.

Fighting during the Black Sea Campaigns of WWII, history buffs and WWII aficionados will recognize theaters of battle such as Odessa, Sevastopol, Theodosia, Eltingen, Nikolaev and Constanta.

Men of War: Red Tide will be available at North American retail outlets and for digital download this fall.

Left 4 Dead Patched

Steam News announces a new version of Left 4 Dead will be automatically applied to the zombie shooter the next time you start Steam. As described below, the new version fixes an exploit, and offers improved support for modifications:

Client
Removed an infinite ammo exploit for molotovs

Add-on Campaign Support
    • Players download third party campaigns as single .VPK file
    • Players can manage and select add-on maps and campaigns via game UI
    • Added matchmaking support and download/update prompt for add-on campaigns
    • Custom campaign support in Leader boards
    • If not already registered, left4dead.exe registers .VPK extension to allow automatic install of add-ons
    • Servers and the steam API have been extended to allow servers to send up a list of keys for matchmaking up to 1200 bytes in size

Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools
    • Fixed missing fgd error
    • Added vpk.exe command line tool for extracting, creating, and appending .VPK files
    • Removed info_versus (not used)
    • Added info_gamemode which fires outputs for Coop, Versus or Survival depending on what game mode the map is loaded in
    • Updated tutorial_standards example map, repackaged as 'Dead Line' campaign example add-on
    • Sample content now includes source files for official maps

Ships Ahoy - Dawn of Discovery

Ubisoft announces that Dawn of Discovery is now available in North American stores, almost a week earlier than the expected release of the real-time strategy game known as Anno 1404 in Europe. Here's the announcement, which states the game was somehow "specifically designed for the Wii system, the Nintendo DS hand-held system and PC:

SAN FRANCISCO – June 25, 2009 – Today Ubisoft announced that Dawn of Discovery(TM), a real-time strategy and simulation game specifically designed for the Wii(TM) system, the Nintendo DS(TM) hand-held system and PC, is now available in stores. Dawn of Discovery gives gamers the opportunity to explore new civilizations and build their own empire like never before, through the immersive action of the Wii Remote(TM) and the Nintendo DS stylus.

Game features include:

Build and sustain your own expansive empire
• Explore the beautifully detailed world and discover new places to create your civilization
• Set up trade posts in the spice mines of the Orient and explore new trade routes to keep your nation growing
• Learn from other nearby cultures to expand your horizons and master the challenges of establishing a prosperous society

Developed specifically for Wii, Nintendo DS and PC audiences
• Unique art style and clever integration of the Wii Remote and Nintendo DS stylus makes building your empire more fun and interactive than ever before
• All-new scalable 3-D engine ensures unmatched visuals, optimized for all PCs – from high-end to low-end desktops
• Seamless user interface delivers multiple gameplay modes and faster player rewards for both long or short play sessions

Exclusive multiplayer modes across platforms
• Build your civilization and make history along with a friend in the 2-player co-op mode for Wii
• Integration with Ubi.com allows PC players to track achievements, climb leaderboards and challenge others online

Accessible for everyone from beginners to pros
• Intelligent help system offers contextual hints for any situation
• In-game encyclopedia includes illustrated tutorial filled with tips and strategies for building your civilization

Serious Sam HD Announced

Following news of plans for Serious Sam on XBLA, cdv announces plans for Serious Sam HD, a high-definition remake of Croteam's madcap first-person shooter, planned for release for Windows this autumn. Here is a batch of screenshots from the game, and here's the announcement:

PC Classic Serious Sam HD to be Released by cdv this Autumn

cdv Software Entertainment AG is working with Croteam and Devolver Digital to bring Serious Sam HD for PC to retail and digital download in all worldwide territories excluding Russia.

Originally released in 2001, Serious Sam won numerous accolades including Game of the Year on Gamespot and Editor's Choice on IGN. Developed on Croteam's proprietary Serious Engine 3; Serious Sam HD stays true to the source material, as our hero takes on Lord Mental's forces across a variety of battlegrounds set in various ancient civilisations. The gameplay remains as intense as ever and the humour intact, all this in glorious high definition!

Roman Ribaric, CEO of Croteam said "We have been really excited to see Sam being recreated in stunning high definition and to have the opportunity to truly update our hero. The fans of Sam have never gone away and have been lobbying us hard to do this, so we are really excited to be able to confirm that Sam will be back as big, bold and bad as he ever was and we are really stoked about introducing Sam to new gamers as well as his loyal fans."

Arne Peters, COO of cdv Software Entertainment AG commented, "cdv are very excited to be involved in bringing Serious Sam HD to market. The game has an outstanding heritage and is still talked about today in reverential terms. Therefore, this HD version of a classic can only be great news for PC gamers everywhere."

For more information about cdv Software Entertainment AG please visit www.cdv.de

WAR Update & Future Plans

Mythic Entertainment announces that The Land of the Dead is now live in Warhammer Online, completing the roll-out of the Call to Arms live expansion for the fantasy-themed MMORPG. With the 24-hour early access reward concluded, the new content is now available to all. Here's how it's described: "‘The Land of the Dead’ opens the treacherous deserts of Nehekhara to players with the addition of a new RvR-gated zone filled with dozens of new Public Quests™, instanced lairs, and a massive new dungeon to plunder in search of the Casket of Souls." There's also a Land of the Dead Launch Interview on MMORPG.COM, and the Warhammer Herald describes how this marks the launch of the Realm Resource Handicap system. Finally, the Warhammer Herald has a lengthy new Executive Producer's Letter - Part 3 from Jeff Hickman that follows up on news of Mark Jacobs' departure with an outline of their plans for the game going forward. Here's a bit:

We are committed to Warhammer, Ultima Online, and Dark Age of Camelot, and have solid plans for each game. I look forward to discussing our plans for of all of these games with you in the near future. This month, as promised, I’d like to start by sharing some more details from our plans for Warhammer’s continued development over the upcoming months.

Over the past few weeks, we've reached out to many individuals and guilds to share their thoughts, and we’ve been digging down into all of the feedback we have received. As I stated last week, these discussions led us to five key goals which will act as our compass in the months ahead. Our five key goals for Warhammer are:

1. Addressing concerns related to crowd control and area-of-effect abilities.
2. Continuing to improve client and server stability and performance.
3. Strengthening and improving the Tier 4 experience.
4. Improving server population distribution, both in terms of overall population and Realm balance.
5. Improving itemization and the overall distribution of “carrots” (fun rewards) throughout the game.

We're still working out the specifics, and as always the details are subject to change, but we'll share several examples of what we're planning and will continue to do so as more details for upcoming features come together in the coming weeks. There's a lot to cover, so let's get started!

ARMA II Demo

Though it's not yet reflected on the ARMA II Website, the promised playable demo for the military shooter sequel from Bohemia Interactive Studios is now available. This forum post (thanks I Love Slippery Jim) lists download locations for the demo, and offers a tip to install the latest DirectX 9 Redistributable for those encountering a "Demo failed to launch, X3DAudio1_6.dll was not found" error. Here's word on the demo:

The fictional post-Soviet state of Chernarus provides the location for all the action in ArmA II and gamers will have the opportunity to explore its highland area in the demo version, along with the small Chernarussian island of Utes. More specifically, the ‘boot camp’ missions are all available which act as tutorials for the game’s many disciplines including helicopter flight, unit command and base construction. In addition, the full single player mission ‘Trial By Fire’ from the main campaign and the multiplayer map ‘Mini Warfare’, allowing ArmA fans the chance to trial three multiplayer modes, are included in the demo. A selection of over 20 vehicles, over 25 weapons and various soldier and civilian models will be included, although these represent only a fraction of those available in the retail version.

“Distilling ArmA II’s gameplay into a trial sized package has been a bit of a challenge because there is just so much in there that we want to show off,” commented Mark Allen, European Communications Manager for 505 Games. “In the end we’ve decided to be pretty generous, there are five types of rocket launcher in there for starters!”

Battlefield Heroes Beta Opens

As noted on the Battlefield Heroes Forums, Battlefield Heroes is now out of closed beta testing, and open beta testing of the cartoony military shooter is now underway with no key required and the NDA lifted (thanks RoTide). The website also offers a new gameplay trailer promoting the game. BF Heroes plays in a browser, and IE or Firefox is required.

Mytheon Trailer

The new Mytheon Website now offers the first trailer and some new screenshots from Mytheon, the multiplayer action/strategy game under development at Petroglyph for release in Q1 2010. Here's how the clip is described: "The action-packed trailer is pure in-game footage and showcases the unique and fascinating Greek mythology styled environment while giving players their first glimpse at some of the larger-than-life mythological creatures and gods in the game, including the mighty Poseidon. Players will get a glimpse inside the immersive mythological world with dynamic 3D renderings and lush fantasy settings such as Hades. The trailer also explores one of the game's key gameplay elements, its 'power stones', which can be used to summon loyal minions, inflict destructive and devastating spells, battle colossal monsters and more."

The First Big Daddy

The Cult of Rapture offers several pieces of BioShock 2 concept art showing the evolution of the look of the prototype Big Daddy, including one shot with the near-final look of the original Big Daddy, which is the playable character in the upcoming shooter follow-up. Word is: "The logic behind this concept art went beyond different designs and suit combinations. The artists had to imagine what the very first Big Daddy would have on him -- this Big Daddy had to feel like he was a rough draft or a work-in-progress, an amalgam of Big Daddies to come. The first Big Daddy was a test case, and in making the perfect prototype, 2K Marin drafted many, many prototypes themselves."

Final Fantasy XI Lawsuit

Courthouse News Service reports that a group of 100,000 Final Fantasy XI customers have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Square Enix of America over fees and penalties (thanks Edge). Word is:

Named plaintiff Esther Leong of San Francisco says that Washington-based Square Enix lied about or concealed its monthly fees, penalties for late payments, interest, restrictions, and other things that should have been fully disclosed at points of purchase.

The class seeks damages of more than $5 million, alleging unfair business practices, false advertising, and unjust enrichment.

EA Still Publishing Rage

Despite the owner change, EA is still publishing Rage (to be sung in your best Billy Corgan voice). This is the report on GamesIndustry.biz, where they say EA will still publish id Software's Rage, in spite of id's acquisition by ZeniMax Media, owner of rival publisher Bethesda Softworks. EA's statement on the topic is pretty terse: "EA's agreement with id Software for Rage remains unchanged."

Red Alert 3 Patches

The Command & Conquer Website announces the release of a new patch for Red Alert 3 to update the RTS sequel to version 1.11 with what they say "may just be our 'biggest' patch yet." This forum thread includes the complete patch notes, and here is an abstract: "This patch for Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 fixes several exploits and critical bugs, improves balance with an array of specific fine tuning changes to each faction, adds two free maps from Red Alert 3: Uprising, and more." The easiest way to get the new version is through the game's automatic update function, but if you want to roll your own, that page also offers manual downloads of the dozen separate patches for the different localized editions of Red Alert 3. Those manual patches can also be found mirrored on The Patches Scrolls.

AU to Block Web Games and Sales

Web filters to censor video games reports the Australian government is considering web-filtering sites that sell games that do not meet its local MA15+ rating as well as sites that host Flash games that violate this standard (thanks Akkinokage). This is a step backward for gamers who have held out hope that the AU would add an R18+ rating to allow the sale of adult games to adults. The story adds a related note that Minister Stephen Conroy and the Australian Government have been nominated for The Internet Industry Awards 2009. Here's a bit presenting various viewpoints on this:

Senator Conroy's spokesman said the filter would cover "computer games such as web-based flash games and downloadable games, if a complaint is received and the content is determined by ACMA to be Refused Classification". All games that exceed MA15+ are deemed to be RC.

The filtering could also block "the importation of physical copies of computer games sold over the internet which have been classified RC", the spokesman said.

Ron Curry, chief executive of the IEAA, said the move highlighted the "unacceptable situation" of not having an R18+ classification for video games. The industry has been fighting for changes to classification laws for years.

"It's through the introduction of an R18+ classification that adults will have access to age appropriate material and parents will have the full tool kit to understand the suitability of content for their children," he said.

Mark Newton, an ISP engineer and internet filtering critic, said the move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.

AoC Movie

A new Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures walkthrough movie highlights the just-launched Update 5 for Funcom's MMORPG. The clip includes commentary from game director Craig Morrison and shows off areas in the new Tarantia Commons as well as a boss fight. The clip can be found on GameStar.de and IncGamers.

DDO Unlimited Interview

Turbine Addresses Tough DDO Unlimited Questions on Ten Ton Hammer is an interview about Dungeons & Dragons Online Eberron Unlimited, though they don't answer all the questions they "address," like what new class will be introduced. They do cover a number of topics, including concerns raised by hardcore DDO players about the impact of the addition of subscription-free play.

Op Ed

CNET - Point-of-sale video game activations won't work. Thanks Mike Martinez.
Benefit denial just doesn't make much sense. I understand that retailers are trying to find ways to limit the amount of lost sales, but using a video game activation system will only make it worse on the industry. And since there are so many issues with the plan, I don't see how it can work.

Seattlepi.com - Videogame Review Ethical Guidelines.
The relationship between videogame publishers and enthusiast media need to be properly maintained and both sides need to play by the rules and respect each other in order to deliver the best possible coverage to the news consumer.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

So far so good on my new "squirrel-proof" birdfeeder, as the squirrels seem to have resigned themselves to ground-feeding the spillage caused by the birdies. A couple of people, including my dad, have pointed out that the birds don't actually need feeding in the summer, which I honestly hadn't considered, but it makes sense that some folks take their feeders in this time of year, especially now that we've gone through 25 pounds of seed in a couple of weeks.

R.I.P.: Veteran a part of "Band of Brothers" (thanks RudyBob). Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

Shifty Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Epic War 3.
Star Beacons.
Kidnapped By Aliens.
Links: The Life Cycle of a Videogame.
65 Ancient Video Games I Wish Existed. Thanks nin.
Celebrity Video Games.
Stories: Kids' "power station" sparks radiation alert. Thanks Slashdot.
Blue Is General Zod In "Smallville". Who me?
Science: Left-handers 'think' more quickly. Thanks IncGamers.
Images: Price Is Right's midcentury modern tech.
Media: Zoom into a Tooth. Thanks nin and Digg.
Fox 8 Cleveland Black Bear Special Effects Extravaganza.
Twouble with Twitters.



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