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Wednesday, Jul 15, 2009

  

Other Shoe Drops on Aliens RPG

Though developer Obsidian already revealed the cancellation of the Aliens RPG, publisher SEGA has finally broken their silence on the project, telling TotalVideoGames.com the game is officially cancelled, saying, "At this point, SEGA has no plans to move forward with the Aliens RPG." They go on to provide their outlook on the property:

The Aliens franchise offers us so much content to choose from that we feel it important to take a step back and carefully consider the type of game we want to release. We plan to continue working with the Aliens franchise and ask fans to be patient and stay tuned for more information about what SEGA has coming out for the Aliens series of games, starting with the upcoming Alien vs. Predator game. We are very excited about and focused on Alien vs. Predator, which promises gamers a fantastic single player game and an equally compelling multiplayer experience. We are confident that it provides all the excitement and fun that the Aliens and Predator fans are looking for.

Red Faction: Guerrilla in Sept., Specs

Voodoo Extreme has release dates from THQ for the PC edition of Red Faction: Guerrilla, saying the shooter sequel will be out in Europe on September 11 and in North America on September 15, a delay beyond the August release date revealed less than two months ago. They also have some new DirectX 10 screenshots from the game, and the following system specifications:

Minimum:

    • OS: Windows XP / Vista
    • CPU: 2.0 GHz Dual-Core Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2)
    • Memory: 1GB RAM / 15GB of Hard Drive space
    • Video Card: 128MB 3D Video Card with Shader Model 3.0 Support (Nvidia GeForce 7600/ATI Radeon X1300)

Recommended:

    • OS: Windows Vista for DirectX 10
    • CPU: 3.2 GHz Dual-Core Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2)
    • Memory: 2GB RAM / 15GB of Hard Drive space
    • Video Card: 256MB 3D Video Card with Shader Model 3.0 Support (Nvidia GeForce 8800/ATI Radeon HD3850)

Realtime Worlds on Players as Content

In the 60s Marshall McLuhan taught us "the medium is the message." In the 80s Scott McNealy taught us "the network is the computer." Now the 20-year cycle repeats, as Realtime Worlds' CEO David Jones teaches us that players can be the content, according to an article on Gamasutra where Jones describes a lesson learned from Crackdown, where they found players experiencing the game in different ways than the game's designers intended, leading to the sandbox approach to their upcoming All Points Bulletin. The content comment came in answer to a question about ABP single-player play, "You’ll be able to play APB as a single-player game," says Jones, "but it’s the other players that will be the content." Other comments from Jones at the Develop conference include APB will have 100 players per server, car customisation “better than Forza” and "Online is very much untapped". Also, VG247 Livebloged Jones' Develop 2009 keynote.

Gaikai Interview

The David Perry Interview on Edge Online talks with the one-time Shiny boss about Gaikai, the upcoming cloud gaming service. Topics include the numerous projects he's juggling, the response they've seen to Gaikai announcements, how cloud gaming is "hostage to broadband penetration," lag, server investments, how publishers love the concept, and retailers do not, or as Perry says: "GameStop already hate me."

Frozenbyte on Trine Pricing

The Trine Interview on Shacknews talks with Joel Kinnunen of Frozenbyte about Trine, their recently released action/platformer. A couple of topics of particular interest are Joel's take on whether the PC version will get co-op support, as he says it's still up in the air, but: "With Trine, it looks like the chances are higher than they were with the Shadowgrounds games." They also touch on the confusing price structure, or lack thereof, for the game across platforms and territories:

It sucks, but in all honesty I don't lose too much sleep over the $20 price on PSN and the $30 price on Steam/online/retail. The game is worth the higher price too, in my opinion, and I think people will have an enjoyable experience--and you can play the demo and judge for yourself.

I'm a bit more irked by the 20 euro price on PSN (Europe) and the 30 euro price on Steam/online/retail (and even higher in retail in some countries/retailers). The currency rates are just mad right now, and I can sympathize with a lot of European gamers who are angry at this discrepancy. But it's more or less out of our hands because it's linked to the retail side of things.

Champions Online vs Champions and Nemeses

A new Champions Online trailer shows what happens when heroes just don't get along (see Spider-Man versus The Human Torch, Batman versus Superman, or Guy Gardner versus everybody for suitable examples). A new clip showing off player-versus-player combat in Cryptic's upcoming superhero game is now available on AtomicGamer and GameTrailers. There's also a Champions Online Interview on G4tv.com talking with Jack Emmert, who at one point touches on how they might create a Nemesis Online as villainous counterpart should Champions Online prove successful enough, but this would differ from the City of Villains they created out of City of Heroes: "I think in City of Villains, we were asked to make the game in about a year, and so we were kind of focused on 'We gotta get this done.' So, we just took the template of City of Heroes and copied it. If I were to do it over again, I would create a very different type of gameplay for villain worlds."

Watchmen Movie

GameTrailers.com now offers a movie from Watchmen: The End Is Nigh Part 2, the upcoming continuation of the movie-based superhero fighting game. The trailer highlights new asses to kick and new locations to perform said kicking.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Post I.T. Shooter. Thanks Joystiq.

Red Alert 3 Hotfix

Red Alert Universe now offers downloads of new hotfix patches for the various language editions of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, which will close off an exploit and update the real-time strategy sequel to version 1.12. The new version is also available automatically from within the game, and here's the explanation of what it is for:

We have a hot-fix, Comrade! Assault Destroyers ruining your day? Jump online and update to our latest hot-fix Patch 1.12. If you have trouble updating online, please use one of our direct download links below.

This patch is a single hot-fix addressing a balance exploit error with the Allied Assault Destroyer.

More Arkham Inmates Revealed?

The IMDB listing for Batman: Arkham Asylum lists several characters from Batman lore who have not been officially announced as part of the upcoming superhero game. The site lists voice actors for characters Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, The Penguin, Ra's al Ghul, and more. Thanks Kotaku.

New Heroes of Might and Magic?

A JobSeeker message on Gamasutra puts out the help wanted that could well be for a new installment in the Heroes of Might and Magic series, according to some sleuthing by Xbox360Achievements.org. The job posting outlines a lead designer position at Ubisoft Shanghai: "for an experienced and talented Lead Game Designer to develop a brand new title for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Mac." The post on Big Download about this indicates this posting originally also had a reference to "Heroes of MM" that has since been removed.

Castle to Rule InstantAction

IndustryGamers reports that Lou Castle is the new CEO of InstantAction, the portal for numerous original web-based games launched by GarageGames. This is accompanied by news that InstantAction will be leaving its Eugene Oregon-based headquarters to open offices in two different locations, one in Portland, and the other in Las Vegas, where Castle is located (Sin City was also the home to Westwood Studios, cofounded by Castle).

Dragon Age Origins Collector's Edition Bonuses

A Dragon Age Origins Collector's Edition is now listed on GameStop, carrying a $64.99 price tag for the Windows edition. The SKU carries several bonuses to put the C in CE, and these include a tin case, a bonus DVD, a cloth map, three pieces of exclusive in-game Dragon Age Origins content, additional (presumably non-exclusive) in-game Dragon Age Origins content, as well as an exclusive unlockable in-game item for Mass Effect 2. GameStop is also offering a preorder bonus of still two more in-game items, and they also offer street-date guaranteed shipping so mail order customers will get the game on October 20, when it will show up in stores. Thanks Destructoid.

QUAKE LIVE Patched

The QUAKE LIVE Website announces that QUAKE LIVE was patched yesterday with fixes and new features, the first update to the online shooter since they recently announced plans to make Tuesday their scheduled maintenance day. In brief: "Included in today's update is a streamlined account registration and plug-in installation process, dozens of long lost awards, competition features, and spectator / shoutcaster additions." Thanks ClanBase.

Mass Mass Effect Sequels?

GamerZines has a comment from Dr. Greg Zeschuk suggesting Mass Effect could extend beyond a trilogy, excerpted from an interview with the BioWare VP from the latest issue of 360Zine, their Adobe Acrobat-format magazine. "We've said Mass Effect is supposed to be a trilogy," he tells them, before going on to reveal: "so you're going to see at least a third Mass Effect, and even more if everything goes well." Thanks Mike Martinez.

Counter-Strike 1.6 Patched

Word on Steam News is that a new automatic update is now available for Counter-Strike 1.6, the Half-Life modification edition of the multiplayer shooter that stays at version 1.6 no matter how often it is patched. Here's the skinny on the new version:

Updates to Counter-Strike 1.6 have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The specific changes include:

Half-Life Engine

    • Added -sys_ticrate command line option to allowed forced override of ticrate
    • Prevent more cases of server redirection

Counter-Strike/Condition Zero

    • Added -nobots option to allow forced override of bots on servers

Darkest of Days in September

Publisher Phantom EFX and independent developer 8monkey Labs announce September 8 as the release date for Darkest Of Days for both Windows and Xbox 360. This upcoming first-person shooter involves changing the course of human history by travelling through time saving key individuals from death on several historical battlefields. The full press release has full details on the game, and here is a portion:

In Darkest of Days, you take on the role of Alexander Morris, an unlucky foot soldier who gets transferred to General Custer’s regiment days before the Battle of Little Bighorn. Moments before his inevitable demise, a futuristic time agent warps in to save Morris and transports him to the future where he is told that time travel is now a reality. However, an unknown faction is attempting to re-write history for their own benefit. Your job is to stop them, and you’ll fight your way through eras spanning thousands of years to do it.

Key features of Darkest of Days include:

        • Brand New Engine: The dedicated team at 8monkey Labs has created an all-new, groundbreaking game engine known as Marmoset. The Marmoset Engine not only breaks from the all-too present Unreal engine FPS clones flooding the market, but also allows for some amazing graphical capabilities. You’ll fight through epic battles filled with literally hundreds of NPCs on the screen at the same time, all with an advanced AI and all without a hint of graphical slowdown and all set against wide-open environments that are lushly detailed and dynamically lighted.

        • Compelling Storyline: Darkest of Days is a compelling, action-packed first-person shooter to be sure, but it’s not just mindless run-and-gun, blow ‘em up gameplay. You’ll have to not only think about how to approach certain key battles and situations, but you’ll also have to take care when fighting – certain key people that were never meant to die will be marked with a special blue aura. If you kill them, you’ll face dire consequences…

        • Wreak Havoc with Future Weapons in Antiquity: Something nearly every gamer that’s ever played a shooter based in the past has always wanted is the ability to bring a futuristic weapon back through history and kick some major butt. How differently would Custer’s last stand have turned out if the General was equipped with an M-16 assault rifle? You’ll be able to answer questions like this in Darkest of Days. While not every battle and situation will allow you to wield weapons from the future, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to unleash futuristic fury on your unsuspecting foes.

Pinball Construction Set TMed

superannuation is at it again, digging up news of a Trademark registration by a Newport Beach-based company named Roxy Friday for Pinball Construction Set, though it's not clear how or if this relates to the original Pinball Construction Set from back in the day. They point out this mysterious Roxy Friday has also filed a Trademark registration for Platform Racing, though once again, it is unclear if or how this may relate to the web-based Platform Racing.

Miner Wars Announced

The Miner Wars Website looks as if it's been online for a while, but it now offers the official announcement of Miner Wars, a subterranean first-person shooter to be released this autumn for Windows and Xbox 360. The game looks like it is inspired by the Descent series, and they offer some screenshots and a pair of high-definition trailers showing off gameplay, which is described like so: "Miner Wars is a 6DOF underground and space shooter played in a fully destructible environment and is a combination of single player story game and MMO." Here's a bit more:

As a player, you operate an advanced mining ship in an open world asteroid belt area. You dig kilometers of tunnels, harvest the ore, travel the solar system, fight your enemies and discover mysterious alien secrets.

Game play is led by an epic story and is a combination of a single/multi-player game, cooperative, or you against everyone.

The story will introduce you to many types of missions: rescue, exploration, revenge, base defense, theft, transportation, stealth, search and destroy, pure harvesting, racing or just flying around and destroying everything you see.

2009 Digital Sales to Top $1 Billion?

GamesIndustry.biz quotes GfK Chart-Track director Dorian Bloch predicting that digital downloads via Steam, Direct2Drive, Metaboli, and similar services will generate over $1 billion (with a "B") in sales by the end of this year. This supports a general sentiment that PC gaming is underreported in sales charts, and to that end, Dorian says they are eager to present such data, but will need a wider group of publishers to provide digital sales figures to be accurate. He uses the Football Manager series as an example: "Sega has been asking us, 'when can we include our Football Manager sales in our charts?' We'd like to include them, but I can't just include one publisher's sales, I need a balanced approach for doing that."

CITIES XL in October [Updated]

This press release (peculiarly written in the first-person) announces October 9 as the release date for CITIES XL, the urban planning game from Monte Cristo that's currently undergoing beta testing (IncGamers is the latest site offering beta keys). Update: A subsequent announcement tells us this date does not apply to the US, where the game's release schedule is yet to be determined.

Ships Ahoy - The Secret of Monkey Island: SE

Get ready to revisit the SCUMM Bar, as LucasArts has released The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition for Windows via Steam and Direct2Drive and for Xbox 360 via the LIVE Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Here's word on the adventure game remake:

Back by popular demand, The Secret of Monkey Island™: Special Edition faithfully re-imagines the internationally-acclaimed classic game (originally released in 1990) for original and new audiences alike. The development team at LucasArts is bringing the game into the modern era with an all new re-imagined contemporary art style, a re-mastered musical score, full voiceover, and an in-depth hint system to help players through the game’s side-splitting puzzles. Purists will also delight in the ability to seamlessly switch between the updated hand-drawn re-imagining and the original classic version.

The game's twisty plot leads our naive hero on a hilarious, swash-buckling search for the fabled secret of Monkey Island. Tales of pirate wealth lure him to the port of Mêlée with high hopes, no money, and insatiable curiosity. If clever enough, he will win the confidence of Mêlée's pirates and find himself blown by the winds of fate toward the terrifying and legendary Monkey Island -- an adventure that would chill the bones of even the most bloodthirsty buccaneer.

RAGE Website Updated

The week two update is now available on After the Impact, the official website for RAGE, id Software's racy upcoming post-apocalyptic shooter. The site continues its hidden object scavenger hunt designed to build our interest in the game and our hatred of Flash.

Windows Natal?

CNET News has word from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates that the NATAL motion sensing technology MS demonstrated at E3 will find its way to Windows in the future, as well (thanks Mike Martinez). Someone will have to remind Bill that Microsoft is firmly committed to Windows gaming, as he seems to think this is all about office productivity (we're trying to picture printing via arm gestures). Word is:

Speaking about all of the technology Microsoft has cooking in its labs, Gates said: "I'd say a cool example of that, that you'll see... in a little over a year, is this (depth) camera thing." Gates said it was not just for games, "but for media consumption as a whole, and even if they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication."

Gates said it is an example where the project started in Microsoft research but is now being commercialized by both the Xbox and Windows units. "Both the Xbox guys and the Windows guys latched onto that and now even since they latched onto it the idea of how it can be used in the office is getting much more concrete, and is pretty exciting."

Using your body to control devices makes a lot of sense, Gates said. "I think the value is as great for if you're in the home, as you want to manage your movies, music, home system type stuff, it's very cool there," he said. "And I think there's incredible value as we use that in the office connected to a Windows PC. So Microsoft research and the product groups have a lot going on there, because you can use the cost reduction that will take place over the years to say, why shouldn't that be in most office environments."

PC Alan Wake up to MS

BrightFalls.net has a follow-up to Remedy Entertainment's Markus Maki's recent no comment on the status of a PC edition of Alan Wake. Markus specifically said: "Unfortunately all I can say at this point is that we're focusing all our efforts on the 360 version and will be making comments in regards to the PC at a later in time." Reading between the lines suggests that this decision rests in the hands of the publisher, and the statement they received indicates that Microsoft is indeed the decider when it comes to bringing the psychological thriller to Windows:

Thank you for your continued interest in Alan Wake. It is accurate that we are currently working exclusively on the Xbox360 version of Alan Wake. PC plans are currently open, and therefore it’s safe to say that at least a simultaneous launch with the Xbox version will not happen at this late stage. Remedy has a deep heritage in PC gaming and would love to see a PC version available to its PC followers, ultimately however this decision lies with our publisher.

Serious Sam HD Contest

A "Serious Tweet" writing contest for Serious Sam HD is underway, as Croteam, Devolver Digital, cdv Software Entertainment AG, and Majesco Entertainment (and probably others as well) offer the chance to supply one of the one-liners uttered by Sam "Serious" Stone in Serious Sam HD (can't they just rent Army of Darkness?). The announcement is accompanied by three new screenshots, and here's word on the contest:

So how does a budding video game writer enter a finely crafted line for a chance to hear it in Serious Sam HD? Gamers can log on to Twitter and send a brilliant tweet quip to @devolverdigital between July 15 and July 30. Croteam will choose the winning line and Devolver Digital will announce it to all followers of www.twitter.com/devolverdigital and www.twitter.com/majesco in early August.

"I never get any thanks for the wonderfully poetic and emotionally layered lines I write for Sam 'Serious' Stone," said an overworked and underpaid writer at Croteam "So guess what? Let someone else take a crack at it and see how hard it is. These witty remarks don't write themselves you know."

In addition to having the winning line appear in Serious Sam HD, the winner's name will be immortalized in the credits of the game and forever become a part of Serious Sam lore.

FIFA 10 PC/Console Comparison

PC Games Hardware has a set of screenshots comparing the visuals in the Windows edition of FIFA 10 to its console counterparts. The shots contrast the apparent superiority of the sports sequel's upgraded console graphics with the PC, which uses the same engine as the PC edition of FIFA 09, though no effort seems to have been spent on finding similar scenes for a more direct comparison.

Op Ed

Kotaku - The Thinning Video Game Fall Of 2009.
Maybe the publishers are just less in it for just the hardcore than they used to be. Nintendo leads the trend, outbalancing Mario and Zelda with Style Savvy DS for girls, a new Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon for kids and Wii Fit Plus for, no pun intended, a bigger audience than they might ever reach with any games targeted for the hardcore gamer. Take Two has a game based on the circus. Sega's got a Sonic kart-racer. And money will be made. The holiday rush was often too much for the kind of gamers who want to experience the big brand blockbusters from the big-name studios. Not enough money. Not enough time. So maybe this slight calming, this change from a mouthful of cotton candy to a mouthful of Gummi Bears is slightly healthier.

GameSpy - Disastvertising: The Worst in Gaming PR.
The Internet makes promotion easier than ever: Throw up a blurred screenshot from a helicopter passing over the developer's headquarters and a hundred blogs go into full CSI-mode. Content-starved sites suck up announcements like a nymphomaniac vacuum cleaner, so companies have to invent brand-new ways to screw up their PR strategies. And they do! Here we've gathered seven videogame advertising stunts which make that Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare thing look like a good idea.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I don't know, I expected more effort from the squirrels after I bought the birdfeeder designed to thwart them, as I've seen video of them going to extraordinary lengths to break into feeders... I guess there are enough alternative food sources that it is not worth their trouble. The neat thing is the feeder is also helping keep things fair for the smaller birds, as we have a heavy crow population in this area, and the same mechanism that closes the feeder when squirrels climb on also gets triggered by the weight of more than one crow, so the big guys have to take turns, and cannot dominate the proceedings the way they would with an ordinary feeder.

Scarecrow Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: ROWOWOR.
SAS: Zombie Assault 2.
Space Invasion Tower Defense.
Stories: Man uses beer to entice alleged burglar to leave. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Jail term for 'golf rage' beating. Thanks Digg.
Bride's bouquet crashes plane in Italy. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Science: Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies. Thanks theAntiELVIS.
Ancient global warming shows the limits of our knowledge.
Shiny new Space Fence to monitor orbiting junk, satellites.
Auctions: Ghostbusters Ecto-1 on eBay.
Images: Bill Cosby in Jell-O Shots.
Media: Carbon Patch for Your Farts and Outlawing Crotch Grabbing.
Follow-ups: SpaceX Launch Successfully Delivers Satellite Into Orbit.
NASA's Skylab $400 Littering Fine Paid By DJ.
Off-the-Wall Tallies of Jackson's Sales. Thanks Boing Boing.



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