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Saturday, Aug 08, 2009

  

Dragon Age: Origins Delay

Following a denial that console editions of Dragon Age: Origins were delayed, IGN now has a confirmation from BioWare that the Windows and Xbox 360 editions of the RPG are delayed from their planned October release until November 3 in North America and November 6 in Europe, and the PS3 edition is expected "later in November." No reason for the small setback is provided.

Need for Speed: SHIFT Preorders

EA announces a bonus for Need for Speed: SHIFT, where if you preorder the coming installment in the racing series through Gamestop you'll receive exclusive access to the BMW E92 M3 GT2. Also, there's a new movie from the game showing off more rubber burning and such on Gamer's Hell.

THQ Buys Midway San Diego

Midway Sells San Diego Studio To THQ, Sells German-French Divisions has more on the breakup of Midway Games, describing the disposition of a couple of the studios not acquired by Warner Bros. They point to an SEC filing indicating Midway has sold its San Diego studio to THQ, and its French and German divisions to smaller entities. Word is THQ will offer employment to at least 40 of the 100 employees at the San Diego studio, though they also point out: "However, specifically excluded from the bankruptcy purchase by THQ is the contract with the TNA iMPACT! video game in development at the studio, as well as the third-party tools such as Unreal Engine being licensed for the game's creation."

QUAKE LIVE Update

The QUAKE LIVE Forums outline an update that's been applied to QUAKE LIVE to prepare for next week's QuakeCon (thanks Voodoo Extreme). Here are the changes:

This update includes the addition of:

* Overtime Game Periods
* New Sudden Death Rules
* Colorizable Brightskins
* Broadcasting friendly spectator HUD
* Competition friendly player HUD
* Shoutcaster info displays
* Clientside Competition Features

Valve and Deaf Gamers

There are three recent videos on the YouTube from a focus group session Valve conducted with a group of deaf people (Part One, Part Two, and Part Three). The session included Gabe Newell outlining (through a translator) the game development process, and learning from the audience what Valve is doing well to support hard of hearing gamers as well as areas were changes or improvements are required. There are some interesting insights to be had all along the way, including how for many deaf persons English is a second language after sign language, so there is a discussion of incorporating signing into team communications. They also discuss other usability issues, and the importance of facial expressions in deaf communication (Part Three includes comments about this from Bay Raitt, who built the facial system for Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy). In Part Two Gabe outlines Valve's interest in incorporating a deaf character into a future game, and describes Half-Life's Alyx teaching dog sign language because someone from her past used it (apparently not Gordon, in spite of his muteness), calling this an "excuse to build the technology for signing." This is all pretty interesting stuff, and the comments indicate that this is part of an established history of Valve's efforts at supporting hearing impaired/deaf gamers. Thanks Kotaku. Coincidentally, GamePolitics points the way to AbleGamers, a site focused on overcoming gamers' physical challenges.

Trademarking

Mysteries of Westgate Q&A

Ossian Studios interview on Bitmob talks with Alan Miranda in an effort to demystify the Mysteries of Westgate, their Neverwinter Nights 2 adventure pack. Topics include the end of the premium module program that forced a free release of Darkness over Daggerford, how that may have worked to their advantage, the DRM issues that delayed the release of Mysteries of Westgate, the pack's critical reception, their studio structure (including working with his wife), fighting a recession, and more.

Rhianna Pratchett Interview

A Conversation With Rhianna Pratchett on Gamasutra discusses game writing with the narrative designer/scriptwriter for games such as the Overlord series and Mirror's Edge. The lengthy interview offers a number of interesting insights into the process of game writing, including how it often trails other aspects of game design: "It's actually not that uncommon for writers (particularly freelance ones) to be brought on to a project where that is the case, or partly so. If you're not in near the start, then what often happens is that you're presented with is a task akin to writing a script for a film for which all the sets have already been built. It's a tricky to deal with, but certainly not impossible. In fact it makes the art of writing far more like an actual craft; where you're weaving, chiseling, sculpting and molding the story around and through the levels. Sometimes you find yourself in the rather odd position of writing a story backwards. You're presented with the place the character needs to be and you have to create the path which took them there. It can be quite a fun challenge in a sort of masochistic way."

Op Ed

GameTopius - The Allure of Sex.
What company is going to market Sex: The Game? Glenn Beck's head would explode. The first time the game was found in a child's bedroom, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton would meld together, travel back in time, and destroy the founders of Rockstar, the lab that invented Computer Space, and the entire nation of Japan. Americans, and a lot of other people, just can't handle the idea that in order to win you have to stimulate the clitoris, and if the game was for the Wii... forget about it.

At the same time, if sex is only a reward, it is pointless in terms of videogames.

Sleeper Hit - Why do we metagame?
This is why random dance epidemics break out in MMORPG's like fire in a dry pine forest. People just get bored with questing or grinding and they want a simple, no frills break, which takes up as much time as their willing to let waste. Everyone is susceptible to it. A huge raid party completes a time-draining run successfully and a good number of them are going to be too exhausted to do another one, but not quite tired enough to log out of the game yet.

Gameplayer - Was Gaming Better Before DLC?
The thing is, when done right, DLC is an awesome event that sees a game’s community rally under the logo with excited forum talk and fingers frothing at the chance of clicking the download button, taking the financial hit, and getting into more game time. Unfortunately, only a few publishers are making a conscious effort to make DLC something above and beyond the core gaming experience. Something worthy of your money, and something that does not undervalue the initial purchase and in turn make consumers feel sickened by the purchase.

Overclock3D.Net -- Magazine publisher serves up porno to minors.
To my surprise the only thing that did was the last 4 pages of the magazine that contained major full page spreads of mobile sex games, videos and pictures. Convinced that my son had accidentally managed to purchase a mag from one of the 'upper-shelves' I turned to the front cover to see if there was a 18 rated sticker anywhere on the front of the magazine. Nothing. Absolutely no indication that the magazine contained content unfit for young eyes.

Gatherings & Competitions

Saturday Screenshots

Saturday Consolidation

Saturday Tech Bits

Saturday Mobilization

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

It was 13 years ago yesterday that we learned that John Romero was parting ways with id Software. For what it's worth, here's what I wrote about this at the time:

"Just my opinion: I think it's going to be difficult for both Carmack and Romero in the future (I know... poor bastard millionaires). Everything that each produces from now on will be judged against Doom and Quake. If these future endeavors fall short (easy enough to do--those are tough acts to follow), it will be said that the disappointment is the result of the break-up of their winning chemistry. It's got to be a drag always hearing that what you're doing now lacks the genius of what you used to do. Carmack & Romero stand a chance of being the Lennon & McCartney of computer game software.

I hope I'm wrong... "

Retro Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Roly-Poly Eliminator.
LaserBox.
The Awakening RPG.
Stories: Revisiting Abbey Road 40 years on.
Salmonella illnesses prompt beef recall: USDA.
Chinese bride gets married in 1.4 mile-long wedding dress.
Science: Mars Life Looks Increasingly Unlikely.
Nicotine improves brain function in schizophrenics. Thanks Slashdot.
Harvesting algae to power sophisticated unmanned aircraft.
Media: Louis CK - Boys and Girls. NSFW.
Women Write Letters Of Complaint Into Top Gear.
Follow-ups: Large Hadron Collider to restart at half its designed energy. Thanks Slashdot.



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