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Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009

  

DIRECTV BlizzCon Coverage

DIRECTV announces worldwide event access to the sold-out BlizzCon 2009 beamed straight to you from their satellites, which will also go straight into the dishes of those who buy the $39.95 pay-per-view event. The 18 hours of interviews, tournaments, and commentary over two days is hosted by Geoff Keighley and it will available in SD or HD for nine hours per day starting at 11:00 am August 21. Other highlights of the purchase include a World of Warcraft in-game Grunty the Murloc Marine pet, access to the internet stream of the show, and a closing concert by WoW's presumptive Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Ozbourne. Full details are here.

Diablo III Preview, ShakyCam Clips

There's a Diablo III preview on IGN with their hands-on impressions of Blizzard's action/RPG sequel. They also offer new ShakyCam movies shoot off a monitor at GameCom: This clip shows off some combat while this clip seems intended to just blow our minds like a hall of mirrors.

MW2 Beta Follow-up

Final word on MW2 beta rumors on IAMfourzerotwo is a blog update by Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling to "clarify the supposed 'news' coming out of GameCom this morning regarding no MW2 Beta." If you think this means he'll deny reports from this morning that there will be no public beta for the military shooter sequel you will be disappointed, as he says: "It is true that we have not announced a Public Beta for MW2, and that remains true unless I announce otherwise." He then indicates that a public beta will only happen if necessary: "Once the internal beta is completed, if for any reason we feel we didn’t receive the feedback, address the issues, or have the result we expect. We would consider pushing forward with a public one, however at this point only an internal Closed Beta is planned." So after clarifying that the "supposed news" is actually news, it seems the real goal here is to offer reassurances that the lack of a public beta will not hurt the quality of the game:

That said, any fears that no Public Beta will result in any quality loss in the final multiplayer game is completely unfounded; Multiplayer has always been and will always remain a major focus for the team at Infinity Ward and we would never ship a product we didn’t feel lived up to the high standards we hold ourselves to.

While we love public betas for all the obvious reasons, an internal Closed Beta allows us the extra freedom and flexibility to give the entire multiplayer a chance to be widely beta tested without requiring excess development time simply to prep the game for public release instead of an internal beta test which is ran on dev kits / test kits. That fact alone, allows us to have a smoother and faster process of iteration when addressing issues and pushing fixes out to beta participants.

This decision allows us to deliver a more polished experience, which in the end, is what we all want.

L4D DLC Was Meant to be Pre-E3

Shacknews has an explanation from Valve writer Chet Faliszek that Valve actually intended to release the "Crash Course" DLC for the original Left 4 Dead prior to E3, which might have tempered the unhappy reaction to the Left 4 Dead 2 announcement, "but some things held us up." The L4D2 brouhaha might have also been lessened had they mentioned this at the time, but Chet says: "We just didn't think to mention it, we were focusing on other stuff," which he acknowledges was a mistake: "I think if we had that out before the Left 4 Dead 2 announcement, then it would have been clearer for our intentions. Losing the opportunity to get that right hurt us, but I think we made the right choices otherwise."

Bethesda Game Announcement Nears

MTV Multiplayer reports Bethesda's Pete Hines tells them a new game announcement is coming from them in the "next month or so." They probe for hints, and can eliminate id's and Bethesda's planned iPhone games and Todd Howard's secretive game from the list of suspects. Feel free to speculate wildly.

John Carmack Interview

John Carmack Interview Part I and Part II on GameTrailers.com offers a sit down with the id Software technical director at QuakeCon to discuss games, their upcoming RAGE in particular. Topics include progress on engine development, healthy competition in the game market, the new generation of alternate input devices, QUAKE LIVE, how he expects to still be working on games a decade from now, and more. He offers an interesting comment on PC gaming: "the tough thing about the PC market is that the market's smaller than the console market, but the standards are still very high," though he corrects himself to point out this doesn't necessarily apply to more casual PC games.

Ashes Cricket 2009 on Steam

Steam announces they are offering digital distribution of Ashes Cricket 2009, calling it "the most authentic Ashes experience possible without having to don your whites."

Singularity Movie

GameTrailers.com has a new Singularity movie showing a little time manipulation, a little shooting, some ghosts, some explosions, mad scientists, and still more from Raven's upcoming shooter. The clip concludes warning: "Time is your weapon. Time is your enemy. Time is collapsing." And of course, as Mick would sing it, time is on my side.

Majesty 2 Movie

The GamesCom trailer from Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim shows off Paradox Interactive's upcoming real-time strategy sequel just as it's being shown at the show in Cologne. The clip is available for your viewing pleasure on the YouTube.

Future Mice

Electronista has a look at a 17-button mouse said to be designed for MMOGs. The mouse has a 12-button keypad in addition to five more traditional mouse buttons, making it look like the offspring of a mouse and an Intellivision controller (thanks Ant). On what seems like a more practical front, OhGizmo profiles two new mice from Logitech that feature "Darkfield Technology," which can't be as awesome as it sounds (which would require matter/anti-matter containment), but is still pretty cool, as it should allow the lasers in the mice to operate properly on reflective surfaces such as glass (thanks Mike Martinez).

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Official "Avatar Day" Press Release. Thanks Kxmode.
R.I.P.: Don Hewitt, Creator, Producer of ‘60 Minutes,’ Dies. Thanks Mike Martinez.

Interplay Classics on Steam

Steam News announces that classic titles from Interplay are now being sold through Valve's digital marketplace. "We are excited to offer the millions of Steam customers online access to Interplay titles beginning with some jewels of our classic PC catalog priced below $10," is the quote offered from Interplay CEO Herve Caen. As of now they are offering Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics (or all three in the Fallout Collection), Sacrifice, and Kingpin.

Mercenary Wars Announced

Online game publisher Uforia announces Mercenary Wars, an online military first-person shooter scheduled to launch next month. A Mercenary Wars Teaser Website is online, and here are some Mercenary Wars screenshots. Here's a bit:

Unlike other first person shooter games available today, Mercenary Wars features a unique stat system that players can use to upgrade and customize their lifelike characters. The combat in the game is designed to feel very realistic, while also allowing players to adjust their speed, accuracy, and health stats. Mercenary Wars is set in the not so distant future in a world where order and society as we know them are a thing of the past. The economies of the world have crashed and have been replaced with total chaos. New alliances have been forged and the world is now controlled by well-trained groups of mercenaries. Players must determine who to swear their allegiance to and fight side-by-side to the death, if necessary, in the quest to ensure becoming the new global powerhouse.

Victoria 2 Announced

The Paradox Interactive Forums reveal plans for Victoria 2, a sequel to Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, a Europa Universalis-engine strategy game released in 2003 and expanded three years ago (practically to the day). Here's the deal:

A sequel to the 2003 cult-hit, with a large devout following around the world. Victoria 2 is a grand strategy game played during the colonial era of the 19th century, where the player takes control over a country, guiding it through industrialisation, political reforms, military conquest and colonisation. Guide the USA to its Manifest Destiny, Make United Kingdom into a world-spanning empire, and make Germany the dominating nation in Europe.

Features
• Deep engrossing political simulation, with dozens of different types of governments.
• Detailed economy with over fifty different type of goods and factories.
• Historical game-play on a large map covering the entire world.
• Over 200 different countries can be played, from 1835 to the start of world war 2.
• Advanced Technological system with thousands of inventions to be discovered.
• Possibility to export a save game at the end of the game into HoI3.
• A streamlined interface, which makes the game easily accessible.
• Automation of various tasks, including trade and population promotion.
• Advanced spheres of influences system, where the great powers battle over the control of the world.
• New types of pops, including bureaucrats and artisans.
• Cottage production simulating pre-industrial economies.
• Gunboat Diplomacy, no need for negotiate as a fleet outside a port may be a more persuasive argument.
• Overhaul of education, where clergy educates people of the same religion, and each pops have their own literacy levels.
• More reform categories with more options to select from in each.
• New election system with coalition governments and an upper house/senate.
• Historical and Dynamic missions guiding your country through the history.
• Thousands of historical events and decisions.

Demonicon: The Dark Eye in 2011

The Games Company follows on the revelation of Demonicon: The Dark Eye that came late last year with platforms and a release window for Silver Style Entertainment's action/RPG. They say to expect the release of the game for Windows and Xbox 360 some time in 2011. They also serve up some new Demonicon screenshots "showing the dark look & feel of Demonicon." They add: "You will recognize a female warrior fighting against undead monsters."

Fallout 3 Retail DLC Bundle

A second boxed retail edition of Fallout 3 DLC is expected in stores next week (we guess this makes this SBC, for store-bought content). According to Blend Games this will bundle Broken Steel and Point Lookout much the way a previous retail box bundled Operation Anchorage and The Pitt. There's no word on whether the upcoming Mothership Zeta will also eventually land in stores.

The Old Republic Sith Warrior Q&A

There's a Star Wars: The Old Republic Q&A on GameSpot discussing the Sith Warrior class in BioWare's upcoming MMORPG set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Since this is the class Darth Vader would fall into it's easy to imagine this will be a popular choice. Here's a bit on the topic from BioWare's James Ohlen: "At E3, we did show off a Sith, and today, we are revealing that the Sith that was shown at E3 was specifically the Sith Warrior. Darth Vader was the primary inspiration for the this character class. The Sith Warrior is a heavily armored Force user driven by darkness and rage. He depends more on overpowering his opponents with martial skills than Force powers but often uses iconic powers, such as [the] Force choke. His story revolves around hunting down and crushing the enemies of the Empire, though sometimes, he is given the task of corrupting--rather than destroying--an enemy."

Nexon America Financials

GamesIndustry.biz has the latest financials from Nexon America, who report a 35% increase in July revenue compared to the same month last year, though they decline to specify how much money that represents. They do offers some concrete figures about the population of their subscription-free MMORPG MapleStory, however, which are pretty impressive: "MapleStory now has over six million registered users in North America - helping to bring the game's worldwide user total to 92 million. The game itself set a new record in July, said the company, notching up more than 70,000 concurrent players."

Mafia II: No DX10/DX11

There are Mafia 2 Hands-on impressions on PC Games Hardware after some face time with the life of crime sequel in development at 2K Czech, offering their thoughts on the game's engine. On a related note, some new Mafia II screenshots are available for your perusal. Here's a bit about the engine from the preview: "In an interview with Producer Denby Grace we learned that 2K Czech (formerly Illusion Softworks) has recreated the engine of Mafia 2 almost from scratch. The result is a D3D9 renderer - support for DX10 or DX11 has not been integrated. Mafia 2 is a pure cross platform title although the PC is said to be the lead platform. Due to the higher resolutions as well as additional GPU Physx particle effects, like dynamic, interactive smoke) the PC version will also offer better graphics than the console variant."

Fallen Earth Beta Opens, Preorder Bonus

The Fallen Earth Beta on FilePlanet is now open to all FilePlanet users, not just paying subscribers. Word is: "After hundreds of bug fixes and gameplay improvements, Fallen Earth has entered Open Beta and challenges you to the fight of your life. This will be a limited access first-come-first served beta with limited keys." Also, preordering the game through Direct2Drive gets you access to that beta well as a custom horsie for use in the game.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 in October

Konami Digital Entertainment announces an October 22 release date for the Windows, Xbox 360, PS3, and mobile editions of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, the next installment in the association football/soccer series. Also, the versions of the game for PS2 and PSP will follow on November 5, and PES 2010 for Wii is expected on November 19. Word is: "PES 2010 marks the greatest advance for the series to date, with the PLAYSTATION®3, Xbox 360 and PC-DVD versions benefiting from 360 degree control, while also feature the most detailed visuals and most realistic animation to date, and all new Master League elements. The Tokyo-based development team has worked closely with the PES fan base to implement the most requested advances, and as a result PES 2010 is set to be the ultimate football fans’ game."

Saboteur Not Really so Cuddly

Pandemic Studios clarifies the gameplay movie released yesterday on The Saboteur Website did not represent the way The Saboteur will look in most territories, as this clip from the World War II stealth/action game was "softened" for Germany's GamesCom:

The Saboteur Trailer is the softened version for Germany's Gamescom - Blood, Swastikas etc... Are all still in the game.

Tales of Monkey Island Trailer

The Telltale Games Blog now offers a sneak peak at a cutscene from Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay, tomorrow's second chapter in the episodic Monkey Island series. No undead pirates were harmed in this clip, which focuses on Guybrush's brushes with domestic bliss.

Now THAT's an Entrance

ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale in 2010

Publisher JoWooD Productions announces a delay to ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale, the RPG sequel once known as Gothic 4. The game was due in Winter 2009, but now JoWooD announces they have upped the game's budget and set back its release until 2010 to ensure this will be a AAA game:

Vienna, 19.08.2009 The Austrian publisher, JoWooD today announced that the release of its awaited action-RPG title, ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale has been postponed to 2010.

ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale, the next opus of the Gothic series, is planned to come on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. In its commitment to release a AAA title, JoWooD has committed substantial extra development budget for ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale to be a flagship title and one of the best RPG releases of 2010. « A stong investment in quality and innovation is the way for a publisher like us to take a strong position in the RPG market. We want, with ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale to offer the best of the Gothic franchise, as we believe we have in our hands the game to compete against the best RPGs out there » says Albert Seidl, JoWooD CEO.

www.arcania-game.com

Clash of the Titans Game

Eurogamer has word on plans for a Clash of the Titans game that will tie in with the upcoming remake of the 1981 movie noteworthy for its Ray Harryhausen stop-motion special effects. The game is in the works at independent Japanese developer Game Republic to be published by Namco Bandai, and while details (including target platforms) are scarce, they do describe a brief GamesCom demo movie depicting "huge minotaurs swinging axes, dragons swooping over snowy landscapes, chicks with horns, wings and tiny bikinis and that sort of thing." The game is due for release alongside the movie this coming spring.

More Final Fantasy XIV ShakyCam

Another pair of Final Fantasy XIV ShakyCam clips are available on GameTrailers.com, where there's a character animations clip and a gameplay clip where a little girl keeps running headlong into men's crotches before starting to just run around.

Dungeon Keeper TMs

Super sleuths superannuation inform us that Electronic Arts has filed not one but two new trademark registrations for Dungeon Keeper, which, of course, is the "evil is good" franchise created by Peter Molyneux and Bullfrog Productions, as EA is now owner of the old Bullfrog IPs. Both trademarks cover games, though the second one seems to emphasize a product that will be downloadable. On a semi-related note, a recent interview with Harvey Elliot of EA Bright Light Studio expressed an affection for the older Bullfrog properties.

Dark Void in January

Dark Void is now expected on January 12, 2010 in North America and January 15, 2010 in Europe, reports Gamer's Hell. This follows up on the recently announced delay to Airtight Games' upcoming jetpack-powered action game, which was explained like so: "So instead of rushing through development just to release Dark Void in the crowded fall game season, we have decided that it would be best to give it just a little bit more time to bake. Both teams really want to 'wow' you with enhanced game play, graphics ... and maybe even some extra surprises that we know have the time to implement." Also, there are some new Dark Void screenshots on IGN and a the Dark Void GamesCom 09 is on GameVideos.

No Modern Warfare 2 MP Beta

A couple of new Modern Warfare 2 screenshots were released at GamesCom, offering a pair of ginormous looks at the upcoming military shooter sequel in the works at Infinity Ward. Also, Computer and Video Games has word from Infinity Ward that unlike the first Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 will not have an open multiplayer beta.

WAR Anniversary Plans

Mythic Entertainment announces the one year anniversary of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is approaching, and they've got some related celebrations planned for players of the MMORPG. They say The Wild Hunt event will be followed by special weekend-only events: The Mourkain Temple (September 11-14), Gates of Ekrund (September 18-21) and Temple of Isha (September 25-28). Here's a bit more:

Throughout September’s celebration, exclusive anniversary items, including Halfling Pies and the Jubilee Cloak, will be delivered via in-game mail to all players. Fans that have waged non-stop war for the past year will be rewarded with a special veteran’s reward, the WAR Aegis, and unique title, Weapon of WAR. In addition to all players receiving a 20% experience and renown bonus throughout September, enemies defeated in RvR combat will drop fireworks, exploding stout and other unique limited edition anniversary items.

Final Fantasy XIV ShakyCam Trailers

GameVideos has two ShakyCam trailers of Final Fantasy XIV shot off a monitor at Gamescom 2009, making note of the fact that these are taken from an alpha version of Square Enix's MMORPG if portions seem rough. This clip shows our intrepid adventurer chasing some helpless dodos, until they decide to stop and kick his ass, and this clip shows off a bit more combat, your mini-me, and a fluorescent enema (that's the best we could do, not speaking German to understand the narration).

Mini Ninjas Demo

The Mini Ninjas Website now offers the promised playable demo for IO Interactive's upcoming action adventure game. There is also an Xbox 360 demo on the Live Marketplace, and a PS3 demo is expected on the PlayStation Network tomorrow. Here are some new Mini Ninjas screenshots that accompany the announcement, there are two new trailers on Gamer's Hell, and downloads of the demo are mirrored on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FanGaming, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Napoleon: Total War Announced

SEGA announces Napoleon: Total War (not to be confused with Commander: Napoleon at War), saying the next installment in the Total War series of real-time strategy games from Creative Assembly is due in February, 2010. The Napoleon: Total War Product Section is live with a trailer and some screenshots, IGN has an early Napoleon: Total War Preview, and here's a bit from the announcement, which references the "turn-based campaign":

LONDON & SAN FRANCISCO (August 19th, 2009) – SEGA Europe Ltd. and SEGA of America, Inc. today announced Napoleon: Total War, the first in an all-new story driven branch of The Creative Assembly’s multi award winning Total War RTS franchise. Napoleon: Total War will keep the franchise’s genre-leading 3D battles on land and sea. The turn-based campaign is split into three different story-driven campaigns, telling the story of the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte through his most famous battles.

In Napoleon: Total War, aspiring generals have the chance to play as the legendary French general Napoleon Bonaparte or as one of his opposing factions. Battling through his three biggest military campaigns, the game will take you through Italy and Egypt, narrating the early years of the fearsome commander, while the third campaign will tell the story of his fateful drive towards Moscow and, ultimately, his showdown with the Duke of Wellington at one of the most famous battles of all – The Battle of Waterloo.

Fable III Announced, Fable II Episodes

Fable III Announced has the revelation some predicted when Lionhead started teasing last week. Fable III will be an Xbox 360 exclusive planned for release in the holiday season of 2010, and there's already a Fable III Preview on Eurogamer and a Peter Molyneux Q&A Part Two on GamesIndustry.biz discussing the game. The announcement also reveals plans to re-release Fable II in five episodes. Here's why all those teases featured a revolutionary theme: "We’ve spent a lot of time at Lionhead thinking about how we can innovate the gameplay and progress the world of the ‘Fable’ games for its third chapter, and we’re confident that players won’t second-guess what we have planned for ‘Fable III,’" says Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux. "Though I can’t give too much away right now, players should expect to have to make much tougher choices with far wider consequences than ever before in Albion — and with many more interactive adventure elements." The first episode of the Fable II re-release is expected on September 29.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Plans

bitComposer Games announces they have worldwide rights to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, GSC Game World's first-person shooter sequel they will publish this fall. The announcement is accompanied by new S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat screenshots, and a reminder of what to expect from the game: "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat takes PC gamers once again into the deadly area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion of 1986. Cordoned off by the military, this highly contaminated “Zone” is scoured by treasure hunters known as s.t.a.l.k.e.r.s, who search the irradiated lands for unique artifacts. In the role of Agent Alexander Degtyarev, the player must go undercover as a s.t.a.l.k.e.r., investigating the mysterious disappearance of five military helicopters while standing against various s.t.a.l.k.e.r. groups."

Op Ed

Edge Online - The Harder They Come.
Nevertheless, developers who try to come up with unique solutions to this problem can quickly find themselves under fire from gamers who not only want to climb a sheer rock face, they want everyone else to do so as well. Take a look at the response to the news of Nintendo’s Demo Play patent, which proposed three solutions to assist players when they get stuck. The first, ‘Game’, lets players bring up video-recorded hints. The second, ‘Digest’, allows players to see video of the game being played; what’s more, they can jump into the actual game at any time, thanks to game saves that are downloaded in the background. The third and final solution, ‘Scene Menu’, lets players navigate through sections of the game in a manner similar to the chapter function on the DVD. The responses on a number of blogs and message boards were fairly negative, and that only intensified when a USA Today interview with Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto suggested that players could use Demo Play to have the AI to take control of the player’s avatar, then resume play at the moment of their choosing.

Gamasutra - Would You Kindly? BioShock And Free Will. Thanks Mike Martinez.
BioShock effectively toyed with players' perceptions of free will, all within the confines of a linear narrative. In this spoiler-inducing piece (warning!), Gamasutra looks at how the game gave players a feeling of control without actually handing it over.

Ten Ton Hammer - Overgeared and Underskilled.
To make matter worse there has been a steady increase in the number of players that have highly geared characters but have very little skill in the game. Does the term ‘Overgeared and Underskilled’ really apply to most players in the World of Warcraft? Find out as Byron “Messiah” Mudry wades into this delicate topic with his usual not so delicate manner.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Mobilization

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

A mix up at the electrician's means my gable fan is still broken, but theoretically they will fix this today. I imagine this means this heat-wave is about to break; and I was just starting to get a good tan... no, I haven't been going in the sun, I think I'm getting a tan through the roof.

Tan Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Building Blaster.
Mechanism. Thanks Jay is Games.
8-Bit Junkie.
Links: The Top 7... games that need prequels.
13 Things a Burglar Won't Tell You.
Top 5 Actors Who Could Play Solid Snake.
Stories: From “Tentpoles” to “Oscar Hopefuls”- The annoyingly seasonal nature of movies. Thanks Digg.
B.C. university introduces grade worse than F. Thanks Digg. Zero point zero.
Pi Calculation Record Destroyed- 2.5 Trillion Decimals. Harcourt Fenton Mudd!
Science: Science ponders 'zombie attack'.
Artificial Tongue Is Sweeter Than Real Thing.
From the Robot App Store to the Global Robot Brain.
Images: APOD- 2009 August 18 - The Milky Way Over the Badlands. Thanks brother19.
Spiderman Fail.
Media: What a Wonderful L4D. Thanks Boing Boing.
Man vs Automatic Doors.
Mythbusting with Adam Savage.
Follow-ups: No Criminal Charges in Fatal Wrong-Way Crash on Taconic Parkway. Thanks j.c.f.



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