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Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009

  

Alpha Protocol Movie

A second Alpha Protocol walkthrough trailer is now available on the YouTube, offering a further look at Obsidian's upcoming espionage-themed action/RPG. The movie includes developer narration describing how character customization functions through the game's safe houses, which are scattered around the globe, and will be accessed between each mission. The safe houses also have access to email for character interaction, and a clearinghouse to acquire black market items. The clip shows off the customization of weapons, armor, and character skills, some of which are demonstrated. They also show interaction with your handlers, trophies, customizing the character's appearance, and more. Thanks Mike Martinez and The Lost Gamer.

Dr. Yee's Brief

GamePolitics has their promised outline of the amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief they reported would be filed today in support of California's efforts at getting the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the state's 2005 violent video game law which has been ruled unconstitutional by two lower courts. The brief (Adobe Acrobat-format) was filed on behalf of State Sen. Leland Yee, author of the bill in question, along with the California Psychiatric and California Psychological Associations. Here's Senator Yee's press release about this, and GamePolitics makes what sense they can about the arguments they present to further the idea that violent games represent a threat that should overcome free speech considerations.

Ubisoft Wants Players, Not Gamers

Ubisoft's Detoc on Turning 'Gamers' into 'Players' on IndustryGamers is an interview with the head of Ubisoft's North American office. They discuss a variety of topics, and as the article's title notes, one of them is that they're more comfortable trying to reach new audiences by appealing to them as players not gamers, which he indicates implies a hobbyist: "You know, Avatar is a very high quality product. I don't want to say it's a gamer's game because I want us to refer to people who play as players as opposed to gamers because the industry needs to be more encompassing. Avatar, because of the mass phenomenon the movie will be, will cater to much more than the hardcore, hobbyist gaming audience. The immersion from the 3-D [stereoscopic feature] is really something else."

Dead Space Extraction Comic

Comic Book Bin has details on a Dead Space Extraction comic based on the Wii-exclusice Dead Space game, saying a special limited edition is on sale at Comic Con for $2.00 in advance of the normal edition appearing in shops this September for $3.00. Word is: "The Dead Space Extraction comic will see the reunification of illustrator Ben Templesmith and writer Anthony Johnston, who created the comics which accompanied the original Dead Space. In fact, this comic owes its creation to the success of the original Dead Space comic mini-series."

Evening Previews

  • DC Universe Online on Variety. The game's early story line.
  • Jumpgate Evolution on MMORPG.com. Developer Blog.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Borderlands Dates

GameSpot narrows the release date for Borderlands to October 20 in North America and October 23 in the UK, Europe, and other territories, jibing with recent indications Gearbox's post-apocalyptic action/RPG would be out in October. "I don't think we have to be afraid of competition or shy of what's out there," 2K Games president Christoph Hartmann tells them in an interview. "I think this holiday season is a little bit lighter in triple-A games than last year. It's actually a good holiday to put something out.…There's always risk and opportunity. The risk is you have a hard time standing out against established IP. The opportunity is you have a lot of traffic here and it can be a much bigger product at retail than it would be otherwise."

Bionic Commando Pre-purchase Discount

Steam announces sales of Bionic Commando, revealing GRIN's platformer sequel is due on PCs on July 28, which is a couple of weeks after the date recently reported on Eurogamer, though online listings indicate the game is due in Europe on Friday. As is their way, Steam has an incentive to inspire pre-purchases of the game, offering a 10% discount if you pay for the game in advance of its release via Valve's online service on Tuesday. On an unrelated note, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

ATI Vista/Win7 Drivers

AMD now offers new version 9.7 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI Accelerators. There are new English-language drivers for Vista 32-bit, Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, and Windows 7 64 bit (those pages all say version 9.6 in the header, but they offer version 9.7 drivers). ATI will release separate driver and CCC packages (other languages) and Windows XP drivers tomorrow. Thanks Bill.

Brutal Legend Countersuit

Countersuit filed over `Brutal Legend' game describes a countersuit by Double Fine Productions against Activision, who sued Double Fine in June, all related to Brutal Legend, the upcoming music game staring Jack Black. This one is getting interesting, as some of the allegations being thrown back-and-forth are pretty strong:

A hearing is scheduled July 30 on a motion by Activision to block the game's release.

Double Fine's countersuit contends Activision's lawsuit was filed to hurt the company and the game, and that it was involved in unlawful business practices and a conspiracy to protect "Guitar Hero" sales.

Activision's "purpose is not only to cancel 'Brutal Legend,' but to kill it completely so that 'Guitar Hero' would not have to face the competition," the lawsuit claims.

Activision said in a statement that Double Fine's claims are "meritless and, in fact, Activision has every intention of exercising its legal right as Brutal Legend's publisher to release the game."

Double Fine was developing "Brutal Legend" for Vivendi Universal Games, which is now Activision Entertainment Holdings Inc.

But Double Fine's suit claims Activision never showed interest in the game and canceled it in 2008 after it acquired Vivendi Universal Games. That was after an effort to convert the game into a "Guitar Hero" sequel failed, the suit claims.

Double Fine said in a statement it intends to fight for the survival of "Brutal Legend," which has been heavily promoted at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo and on gaming Web sites.

Fallen Earth Stress Test Saturday

There's a Texas Invasion Overview on the Fallen Earth Website with an overview of a "Texas Invasion" stress test/competition scheduled for July 25 in the Fallen Earth beta. The article may be a little too steeped in the back story of the upcoming MMORPG to be clear, so there's a FAQ stating things a little more plainly. Word is:

On Saturday, July 25, the Fallen Earth team will host a unique stress testing event, the Texas Invasion: A Clan Challenge. In the Texas Invasion: A Clan Challenge, players in Fallen Earth have been asked to help fortify the Grand Canyon Province and defend against invading Texans. Seeking out encampments of the Texans, players can scavenge valuables, kill invaders or craft to gain points. The player with the most points claims the title, “Defender of the Province,” with a special prize pack.

Sims 3 Sales Outpacing Sims 2?

Gamasutra has a story about the latest NPD charts tracking retail sales of PC games in the US. Word is The Sims 3 sold 820,000 retail units in the US in June, almost twice the number of units than were sold during the month by console chart topper PROTOTYPE, which is rarified air for a PC game (though perhaps not as shocking as The Sims 2 Double Deluxe occupying the #3 spot on the chart after two The Sims 3 SKUs). They did a little digging and found EA reported around 700,000 first-month sales for The Sims 2 in 2005, so it seems The Sims 3 sales are actually outpacing those of its predecessor.

NCSoft's Influx Trademark

superannuation offers another influx of Trademark news, noting that NCsoft has filed a Trademark registration for Influx, saying the title relates to "computer game software; interactive multimedia computer game programs."

Free-ky Creatures

Abandon Interactive Entertainment announces the launch of a subscription-free element for Freaky Creatures, their cross-platform MMORPG. Word is: "The new free-to-play model lets players enter the Freaky Creatures Universe, create creatures and take them into battle against other players online. Free-to-play gamers get access to numerous key features in Freaky Creatures, including the ability to reach level 60 in game and customize lairs for their creatures. Premium memberships start at $6.99 per month and include a variety of additional perks including the ability to reach level 80, take pets into battle, trade and compete on leaderboards."

Raptr IM Client

Social network Raptr has launched its new multi-network instant messaging service. This new Raptr Client connects with AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Xfire, ICQ, Facebook Chat, and Xbox Live, all on one friends list. Word is: "Raptr automatically tracks the games a user is playing, updates their status in real-time to show friends what they are playing and also broadcasts their in-game achievements. Friends who also have Raptr can easily join each other in-game with one click."

Blood Bowl Patch

A new patch for Blood Bowl updates Cyanide's fantasy-themed tackle football game to version 1.0.1.4. There's a change log on the Blood Bowl Forums that says the patch is "coming soon," but it has already been located and posted by The Patches Scrolls and mirrored on AtomicGamer.

WoW China Partial Relaunch Next Week?

A story on Yahoo! Tech reports World of Warcraft would be allowed a partial relaunch in China on July 30, though it is not clear at this time if Chinese WoW operator NetEase would conduct the partial relaunch, just that this would be permitted. The game has been on an extended hiatus in China after Blizzard switched Chinese partners, leading to speculation, later refuted, that the game's Chinese relaunch faced legal hurdles. This new report suggests that legal issues may indeed be playing into the delayed revival of the game in China, as though China's cultural ministry has approved the game, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has demanded content changes:

But GAPP will allow World of Warcraft to open up for "internal testing" while the content changes are still in progress, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing an unnamed GAPP official.

Players who already have accounts will be allowed to play the game starting late next week, but new players will be barred from signing up until the game gets final clearance, the report said. NetEase will not be allowed to charge subscription fees during that period, which is meant to ensure a smooth transition of user data from the operator switch, the official was cited as saying.

It was not immediately clear if NetEase would conduct the partial relaunch, which the report only said would be permitted. Blizzard and NetEase did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Mark Rein Interview

There's a Mark Rein Interview on Eurogamer talking with the Epic veep about what's what in a sit-down from the Develop conference. Topics include Project Natal, the fact that even he wouldn't enjoy a conversation with Marcus Fenix, his hate/hate relationship with Denis Dyack, Gears of War 2, PS3 pricing, Zenimax's acquisition of id Software, and more (but mostly Project Natal).

Raimi to Direct Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment announces Sam Raimi has signed to direct the upcoming Warcraft movie. We can only hope it's the heroic red and blue Sam from Spider-Man 1 & 2, and not the evil black-suited Sam from Spidey 3. Anyway, word is: "Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures have a shared vision for this film and we searched at length to find the very best director to bring that vision to life," said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. "From our first conversation with Sam, we could tell he was the perfect choice. Sam knows how to simultaneously satisfy the enthusiasts and the mainstream audience that might be experiencing that content for the first time. We're looking forward to working with him to achieve that here."

CA Game Law Appeal

GamePolitics reports that California State Senator Leland Yee, along with representatives of the California Psychiatric and California Psychological Associations, will file an amicus curiae (friend of the Court) brief today with the United States Supreme Court. The filing will be part of California's petition to overturn the ruling that found the state's 2005 violent video game law, authored by Yee himself, unconstitutional.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Lives

Computer and Video Games spoke with Gearbox Software's Randy Pitchford to take the pulse of the Aliens: Colonial Marines project. He says he wants to spill the beans about the game, but he can't yet. "I love Aliens and I love Gearbox Software's Aliens: Colonial Marines. I am extremely committed to the game and I'm very confident in Sega's commitment to the Aliens brand and to our game," he tells them. "I can imagine that there are a LOT of Aliens fans out there just like me that feel we've been waiting for our true Aliens game since we first saw the film and now that we know it's in development, we want it NOW!"

DiRT 2 Movies

A pair of new movies show off more of the hard-driving action in DiRT 2, the upcoming off-road racing sequel. There's a clip called Baja Landrush on GameTrailers.com, and GameTrailers.com also has a new Croatia Rally trailer.

Team Fortress 2 Interview

There's an Exclusive Interview with Valve's Robin Walker on CommunityFortress chatting about Team Fortress 2 (thanks Shacknews). One of his answers indicates Valve is still evaluating how to deal with item unlocks: "I think we've learned that the random drop system is only good for some types of things, like the rare cosmetic hats. It's good for delivering items to newer players over time, so they're not swamped with choices when they're starting out, and they're not required to grind achievements to get them once they reach the point where they want to start making strategic choices. For competitive players, it's obviously a bad way to deliver items. At the very least, future packs will allow you to use achievements to get the new items, but we might move to a mode where we just give them to you. As part of our goal of supporting tournaments more, I think we'll probably add better tools for them to control exactly what players can & can't use within matches."

CITIES XL Interview

There's a CITIES XL interview on IncGamers chatting with Monte Cristo CEO Jerome Gastaldi about their upcoming urban planning game. Along the way he explains that brand-placement in the game is about both realism and commercialism: "It makes the game look even more real-world, and partially, and we'll admit this without shame, because we can make some money from that." He also tells them there will be no Sim City-style natural disasters in the game when it ships, saying they will work on adding it post release: "If you implement those gaming mechanics, you have to make sure there is a gameplay to counterbalance these negative effects, and that's part of our upcoming features after game release."

Venetica Website

The Official Venetica Website is live, which is bilingual, so head here if you prefer to read about the upcoming action/RPG in German. Word is: "On venetica-game.com, players learn everything they need about Venice’s quarters and sections and the people that live in the city – friendly ones, as well as evil foes, beasts and monsters. To make it short: venetica-game.com tells you everything about Venetica’s setting and story, the game and its features. Publisher dtp entertainment and developer Deck 13 will be revealing even more secrets in regular updates."

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

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