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Thursday, Jul 23, 2009

  

Runes of Magic Patch Plans

Frogster America announces Secret of the Goblin Mine, a large upcoming patch for Runes of Magic, their free MMORPG. The Runes of Magic Website has full detail on the update and their videos page has a clip showing off the new Goblin Mine mini-game the patch will add. Here's word on the new version, which goes live on June 28:

The ‘Goblin Mine’ solo adventure sends the adventurer into a cave full of pesky green creatures, as well as some weird and wonderful elemental beings. Players have 30 minutes in which to perform three tasks inside the dungeon. They are allowed just one attempt per day to do this, and anyone who dies during the adventure, loses their chance for the day. Those who succeed, receive rare armor recipes and handcrafted objects from the treasure chests at the end of the dungeon. There are also two new titles to reward particularly diligent Goblin hunters, one of which being ‘Goblin Hero.’

Along with the ‘Secret of the Goblin Mine’ patch, an epic weapon quest series is also being implemented for all players. Tasks which demand everything from players and their companions are a part of the toughest quest series that Runes of Magic has to offer. But, the effort will be worth it. Players who manage to come out on top, battling against Taborea’s most challenging opponents, will find themselves rewarded with some legendary weapons at the end of their travels.

Now, players in Runes of Magic have the chance to cultivate plants in their own homes. Seeds and pots of varying quality define the yield of the plants as they grow. So only those who regularly water and fertilize their crops will find they have a harvest in three to seven days. If players neglect their plants, they’ll shrink after a few days. Once the plants have grown, players will see a reward for their labor. Together with ore and wood, there is even a rare blue handwork material which can be harvested.

Defense Grid: The Awakening Patched

Steam announces a new patch for Defense Grid: The Awakening is now automatically available. A number of balance tweaks are included in addition to bug fixes for the tower defense strategy game.

Arkham Asylum Preorder Bonus

GameStop's Batman: Arkham Asylum Page outlines a preorder bonus for Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady's upcoming superhero game. The bonus applies to the Windows and console editions of the game, which also carry a street date guarantee that will have the game delivered on its release date of August 25, though they add: "Not responsible for orders delayed due to inclement weather, incorrect address, credit card information, or because the postman was distracted by Joker in a nurse's uniform." The bonus is an exclusive Challenge Map called "Dem Bones," which "pits Batman against Scarecrow's army of skeletons. In true core gamer fashion, this map is among the most difficult Challenge Maps that the gamer will face as Batman." The bonus is available to UK gamers through GAME.co.uk.

Hearts of Iron III Preorder Bonuses

Paradox Interactive Tweets about Hearts of Iron III preorders starting today on all major digital download providers. If you preorder Hearts of Iron III from Impulse you get Hearts of Iron II free, and preordering from GamersGate earns you two Hearts of Iron III sprite packs. Nothing on Steam yet.

New on GameTap

GameTap announces they've added The Path and Rise of the Argonauts to the premium offerings on their subscription gaming portal. They also announce Cradle of Rome is their free game of the week. Finally, they also announce they have added a full screen option to their roster of classic arcade games, many of which (such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, and Galaga) are being offered for free play for the next week so they can be sampled in their full screen glory.

RAGE Teaser Trailer

The RAGE teaser trailer revealed in today's update to After the Impact is now available, offering a recruiting pitch to anyone who hates mutants. The clip is posted on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Splinter Cell Conviction Trailer

A teaser trailer for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction was released at the San Diego Comic Con, and is now on the web. The clip is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and GameTrailers.

Dragon Age: Origins Trailers

Three new Dragon Age: Origins gameplay trailers show off more of BioWare's upcoming fantasy-themed RPG. There's a Dwarf Commoner trailer on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and GameTrailers. A Human Noble trailer is on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and GameTrailers. Finally, there's a Tower Of Ishal trailer on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Diablo II Resolution/Ratio Mod

A thread on the Widescreen Gaming Forum offers info and downloads for a mod for Diablo II that hacks support for higher resolutions and widescreen aspect ratios into Blizzard's action/RPG, which only supports up to 800x600 resolution. Thanks Hellforge/GameBanshee/Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Flynn Lives (thanks nin). As outlined on io9 and JoBlo.

Sierra Titles on Steam

Steam News has word that Activision has added five new titles to the service, and all five are on sale for 25% off between now and July 30. Aces of the Galaxy, TimeShift, and 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures are now available, as well as Sierra classics the King's Quest Collection and the Space Quest Collection. Both Sierra collections list Windows 2000/XP as a system requirement, though The King's Quest Collection has a note saying "Some games in this collection may run under Windows XP 64 and Vista 32/64, but are not officially supported."

ATI Win XP Drivers

GAME.AMD.COM now offers all the version 9.7 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI accelerators. Vista and Win7 drivers were released yesterday and now the Windows XP drivers are available as well.

Dawn Of War II Beta Statistics

The Dawn Of War II Website has scads of statistics from the recently completed beta test for the upcoming There is Only War patch for Relic's futuristic RTS sequel. They have some charts and breakdowns of these data outlining the number of participants in the test, battle durations, most popular races and maps, and other trends. Word is: "The numbers we’ve shown here are but a fraction of the data we’ve collected from the beta period, but crucial data used in the ongoing support we’re putting into Dawn of War II. The beta period was successful mostly due to your support and feedback, and the game will be even better upon the full release of ‘There is Only War’."

DiRT 2 and X Games

Codemasters announces an X Games component will be included in Colin McRae: DiRT 2, the upcoming rally racing sequel. This will involve three new stages that will unlock as players reach landmark achievements within the game's World Tour: X Games America, X Games Europe, and X Games Asia, which "infuse added realism by bringing the series' unique action sports atmosphere to the game." The news is illustrated by some new DiRT 2 screenshots, and here's more from the announcement:

Each X Games event will consist of two knockout rounds (quarters and semis) rounded off with a dramatic final held at spectacular locations including London (X Games Europe), Tokyo (X Games Asia) and Los Angeles (X Games America). The X Games America competition is identified from the very start of the game as the pinnacle event in Colin McRae: DiRT 2’s racing world and the ultimate test for any off-road racer.

Left 4 Dead 2 Video Blowout

New Left 4 Dead 2 videos are now available showing off Valve's coming zombie shooter sequel. There's a direct-feed Swamp Fever movie from Comic Con on GameTrailers. Also, GameSpy has three new clips, Car Alarms, Shanty Town, and Swamp. IGN has three, City Roof, Bridge Run, and Plantation. Finally GameVideos (thanks Shacknews) has three more, Bloody Ax and More, Zombies Over the Bridge, and Zombies Attack in the Forest.

RAGE Website Update

The final of the promised updates has been applied to After the Impact, the official website of RAGE, id's upcoming post-apocalyptic shooter. The update brings us up to "today" (in that futuristic sense), and lives up to the website's name by showing us the impact they are talking about. More multimedia Flash tidbits await your clicking pleasure.

Spore Patch

The Spore Website announces the release of Patch 5 for Spore, EA Maxis' life simulation. PC users can acquire the new version automatically through the EADM program, while Mac users are told they'll need to check back "soon" for their edition of the patch. The new version has fixes and improvements for the space game, adds options for asymmetrical creatures, and more. A manual edition of the patch is also available, which can be downloaded from ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, and The Patches Scrolls.

Ghost Whisperer Game Plans

Legacy Interactive announces plans for Ghost Whisperer: Shadowlands, a game based on the Ghost Whisperer TV series; saying a Windows game based on the hidden object paradigm (I see dead pixels!) is in the works, though no release schedule is yet offered. Here's a bit on the game: "With its stories penned by Emmy award-winning television writer Lance Gentile, Ghost Whisperer: Shadowlands combines light adventure and hidden object-style game play where players need to help the recently departed move on to the afterlife and provide closure to loved ones left behind. Gamers must collect objects for their inventory to solve challenging puzzles while unraveling the mysteries of five enthralling stories with more than 30 hauntingly beautiful environments."

EndWar Sequel Plans

A small team is working on a sequel to EndWar, the Tom Clancy-themed RTS game, reports VideoGamer.com (thanks Shacknews). At the Develop conference Ubisoft creative director Michael De Plater told them Ubisoft Shanghai is working at improving upon the original game's single-player story and depth, but that he "couldn't put a time" on when a sequel might be released. According to De Plater: "It’s a really good position to be in, in a way. After the first one, now we have a really good understanding of what to do, and we’ve solved lots of the hardest problems, which are accessibility, camera, controls, rendering that many characters, having that game work in 3D, our online as well, having persistent campaigns, having persistent player armies, so we’ve kind of done the hard stuff. There’s a really clear path forward there."

Alice in Wonderland Game

Computer and Video Games has word on plans for an Alice in Wonderland game for Windows, Wii and DS based on the upcoming Alice in Wonderland movie being directed by Tim Burton. Word is: "Developed by Etranges Libellules in France, The Wii and PC versions follow the film's storyline as well as introducing new fiction and locations. An 'upgradeable combat system' is included, as well as a level setup where players collect 'impossible ideas' to replay levels and unlock Underland's secrets." We kind of thought this movie was based on American McGee's Alice, but this seems to indicate otherwise.

On the Warcraft Screenplay

A post to the Quarter To Three Forums reveals English screenwriter/game designer/video games journalist Gary Whitta had been working on a script of the Warcraft movie for two years, though it sounds like he's off the project now that Sam Raimi has been signed as its director (thanks superannuation). Word is:

I had actually been working on this for the past two years. Had to keep it under wraps at the time but it doesn't really matter now.

I worked very closely with Legendary and Blizzard to come up with a screenplay that distilled the sprawling Warcraft mythology into a narrative that was easily accessible to the non-player, and everyone was really pleased with the results - I personally thought my last draft of the script in particular was really kick-ass and did a good job of introducing the Warcraft world to non-players while also satisfying hardcore players who knew every nook and cranny of the universe. When Sam expressed interest in the property, however, he had his own pretty specific vision of what he wanted to do story-wise so that's the version they're now pursuing. I'm no longer involved but I wish them all the best with it; so far as I'm concerned Raimi is the best possible director for this.

RACE On Acquired

Recently formed German publisher bitComposer Games announces they've acquired global rights to RACE On, the upcoming racing simulation from SimBin Studios. The RACE On Website offers video previewing the Formula Master series, a clip that can also be streamed via the YouTube. "I am really excited that we can add SimBin's new title to our games portfolio," says bitComposer Managing Director Wolfgang Duhr. "RACE On will give players the most extensive racing game of all time on PC, and we aim to work closely with SimBin and our distribution partners to build on the success of the series." The game is scheduled for release for the PC in September/October of this year in eight different languages.

APB in March 2010

MCV reports that All Points Bulletin (APB) will be released for Windows and Xbox 360 in March 2010. They also report rumors that EA is on the verge of acquiring Real-Time Worlds, the Scottish developer of the open-world action game, but say that insiders have "scotched" the rumors. We're not sure if that means the rumors have been confirmed, debunked, or perhaps were just the result of a drinking binge (according to Webster this would mean the rumors are killed).

Left 4 Dead 2 at Comic Con

Valve announces plans to show off Left 4 Dead 2 at Comic Con 2009 (albeit the Xbox 360 edition), which gets underway today in San Diego, CA. Here are some new screenshots showing the Swap Fever map and the Spitter infected, and here's the outline of what they're bringing to the show as a preview of the many previews that will follow:

Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2), the sequel to the best-selling and critically-acclaimed co-operative multiplayer thriller, is being shown this week at Comic Con, San Diego.

The game is available to play, by the press and public, at the EA Gaming Lounge presented by Xbox 360 (from 2-9 pm Thursday-Saturday, and 12-5 pm on Sunday) and the Xbox 360 booth, (booth 5225 Hall G) all day on Saturday July 25th. The EA Gaming Lounge is located in the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter Hotel, 401 K. Street.

After debuting "The Parish" campaign (set in the New Orleans' French Quarter) at E3, the Comic Con showing unveils "Swamp Fever", the second of the five campaigns shipping with L4D2 this fall.

Valve is also unveiling a new Boss infected monster coming in the full version of Left 4 Dead 2. Known as "The Spitter" this is the second new Boss infected from L4D2 revealed thus far (the Charger was revealed at E3). The female Spitter has an area attack that can split up Survivors or flush them out of their hiding spots. At least one more new Boss infected is expected to be revealed before launch.

In addition to the new campaign and boss monster the Comic Con showing of L4D2 also includes the debut of the "Mudmen," the "uncommon common" exclusive to the Swamp Fever campaign, and a few more of the 20-plus new items coming in the full product (cricket bat, AK47, and grenade launcher).

Coming exclusively to Xbox 360 and PC on November 17, Left 4 Dead 2 promises to set a new benchmark for co-operative action games and become one of 2009's marquee titles.

World War One: La Grande Guerre Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for World War One: La Grande Guerre to version 1.06H. The patch for the turn-based strategy/war game is located on this page, where word is: "This update includes well over a dozen bug fixes, some minor enhancements to the diplomatic AI, a more robust multiplayer engine, user interface tweaks for browsing HQ units, and several other improvements."

Op Ed

The Game Reviews - Why Games Fail to Emotionally Connect.
The binary choice in Infamous felt very ham-fisted and artificial. Although my character changed visually depending on my choices, it had no effect on the actual story. Also, the game spelt out these choices in the most ridiculous way, giving me such pantomime good-or-evil paths that I felt like I was playing a Sesame Street game. Diluting the narrative in this way ultimately didn’t work, and Infamous would’ve been better served by restricting its story to just one linear thread. This was Prototype’s method-of-choice, and it felt a stronger game for it. But where it succeeded in narrative, it failed with its characters. The dark, brooding Alex Mercer was immediately unlikable, and he seemed a totally different person in the game compared to within its cut scenes. This fuelled my feeling of disassociation with Prototype, and made it’s world an entirely uncomfortable place to be in.

Sessler's Soapbox- Censorship's Gone But Not Forgotten. It's gone?
Yesterday, July 21st was the 50th anniversary of the Lady Chatterley's Lover case, which is essentially the basis all media censorship cases are based on today. In case you're unfamiliar with the subject, check out the Wikipedia article about it. Now that you've done your homework, sit down with The Sess and listen to this week's Soapbox. Adam uses this date as a springboard to discuss how video games appear to have dodged the censorship bullet, if only temporarily. Is this the time to celebrate a small victory? Or is this just another calm before the inevitable storm? You decide.

Christian Science Monitor - Are "mature" video games worse than rated-R movies? Feburary?
The gaming industry has long complained about a double-standard. As the Monitor reported in Feburary, in the past few years, state legislators in California, Louisiana, and Massachusetts submitted or passed bills outlawing the sale or rental of mature games to children. Judges have consistently thrown out such measures as unconstitutional. In Feburary, a California appeals court struck down such a law. It ruled that targeting violent or sexual video games, while not expanding the law to cover R-rated movies or suggestive books, unfairly singled out the free speech rights of a particular industry. California lawmakers vow to continue the appeals process.

Game Informer - Retro Resuscitation – Why Are We Going Where We’ve Been? Thanks Ant and ClassicGaming.
Game developers everywhere have apparently found the magic tonic, and it’s being splashed around like champagne in a rap video. From the Blue Bomber to the Ninja Turtles, no childhood idol is being left behind in the ravenous rampage to revamp retro classics. The digital and retail marketplaces are being proliferated with stellar throw backs to yesteryear. Whatever a given publisher’s reason for updating an old series may be, an obvious pattern has emerged; when a classic franchise begins to struggle, hop in the time machine to remind people why they fell in love with the series in the first place. Using Metacritic’s aggregate scores as a rough guideline, we argue that two distinct types of retro-revivals have emerged, and that each has marked success compared to recent, non-retro efforts.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

  • Borderlands on G4tv.com. Co-op mode.
  • DC Universe Online on Wired.com. Inside S.T.A.R. Labs, DC Universe Online's Chaotic Skunkworks.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Mobilization

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Today is a pretty significant anniversary as far as we're concerned, as it is the anniversary of the full version of QUAKE, which started appearing in customer mailboxes 13 years ago today. It was in anticipation of this 3D first-person shooter from id Software that originally inspired the creation of the website that became Blue's News. Happy birthday QUAKE!

QUAKING Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: The Space Game: Missions.
Knightfall 2. Thanks Jay is Games.
Helium-3.
Links: 100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About.
10 Recently Hyped Games That Disappeared Too Quickly. Thanks Digg.
The 40 most repeated game quotes.
Stories: Shark rides train, ends up dead in Miami street. Thanks theAntiELVIS.
Primate suspect fingered in garden store thefts. Let's get Lancelot Link to investigate.
Researchers Use 'Decapitating' Flies to Create 'Zombie' Fire Ants. Thanks theAntiELVIS.
Science: Baseball’s Use of DNA Raises Questions of Bioethics.
Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light.
MIT electric car may rival gas models on performance. Thanks Slashdot.
Images: The longest solar eclipse of the century.
How Twilight should have ended [PIC].
Media: Long Intense Volley of 1 Point In A Volleyball Game.
Link: The Later Years (Legend of Zelda). Thanks ClassicGaming.
Pull My Finger vs iFart.
Follow-ups: Large Hadron Collider restart, end of the world pushed back to mid-November.
Deep Impact: Jupiter Hit by Comet or Meteoroid. Open the pod bay doors, HAL.



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