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Thursday, Sep 03, 2009

  

Steam F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn (DLC) and Patch

The Steam version of the new Reborn DLC for F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is now available, and though Monolith announces this should also be on sale for $9.99 USD via other portals like IGN (Direct2Drive) and Digital River, it has not shown up elsewhere yet (the manual patch for the previous DLC release trailed the Steam release by a week). Steam also has the automatic patch to update Monolith's scary shooter sequel with support for the new DLC and the new slow-mo deathmatch mode. Here's word on Reborn:

Experience four brand new single-player levels in this additional DLC campaign for F.E.A.R.2! Coinciding with the events seen in the full game, you will experience the chaos of Alma’s aftermath from an entirely new point of view: that of Replica Soldier 813. Your mission begins with an orbital Powered Armor drop to reinforce your fellow Replica squad… But not everything is as it seems. Supernatural events run wild in the apocalyptic remains of Auburn. Another voice is beckoning you; contradicting orders from Replica command. Find out the answer to this, and many new questions, in the DLC campaign F.E.A.R.2: Reborn!

Ironclads: High Sea Demo

A playable demo for Ironclads: High Sea is now available for those interested in sampling the tactical naval combat in this simulation set during the American Civil War. The demo is available from Totem Games and it is mirrored on AtomicGamer, ComputerGames.ro, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Free Champions Online Retcon for Early Start Characters

Champions Online Website announces plans to offer a free retcon for the de-nerfing pleasure of participants in their early start program who created characters prior to their launch day patch for Cryptic's MMORPG. Word is: "We are currently working on a system to issue this retcon to early start characters. As soon as we have the technology in place to do so, we’ll let you know. Thank you all for supporting the game through the first few days of the launch."

Madballs in...Babo:Invasion Invades PC Next Week

Indie developer Playbrains announces Madballs in...Babo:Invasion will be released for PCs next week, following the arcade shooter's successful debut on Xbox LIVE. The game will be released on Steam, for $9.99 in the US and Canada, £6.99 in the UK, €8.99 in Western Europe, and €6.99 in Eastern Europe. Here's word on the game: "The spiritual successor to the massively popular freeware top-down Shooter BaboViolent2, Madballs in Babo:Invasion is an arena based 3D shooter offering players a satisfying and immersive experience in both single-player and multiplayer, including 'Invasion Mode' where players are able to design their own combat maps almost instantaneously by placing a combination of map tiles to create a never-before-seen map before gameplay starts. Truly, no two games are ever the same."

New Runes of Magic Dungeon Plans

Frogster Interactive announces details about The Origin, a new high-level dungeon to launch on September 15 in Runes of Magic, their subscription-free MMORPG. The announcement includes some new screenshots, and word is: "Players will have to confront four bosses before they can unlock the secret of the Elves and bring the sacred tree, Falynum, back to its senses. The encounter with the giant tree presents a huge challenge: In the course of the combat, Falynum summons assistance. Later on, an opponent who was already believed to have been beaten returns to the fray."

Mercenary Wars Game Modes

Uforia announces details on the gameplay modes in Mercenary Wars, their upcoming online military-themed first-person shooter. Accompanied by some new Mercenary Wars screenshots, the announcement outlines their plans to offer four game types: Team Deathmatch, Plant the Bomb, Mercenary Team Deathmatch, and Destruction Race.

GPU Flocking Movie

Instinct Technology has collaborated with Dark Water Studios to create a movie showing how their middleware product Instinct Studio is able to use NVIDIA's CUDA technology to offload AI from the CPU onto the GPU of the graphics card. The trailer shows GPU-controlled flocking behavior in DogFighter that allowed them to display a ridiculous (as in over 4000) number of aircraft on the screen at once, all controlled by a single CUDA-enabled graphics card (that's a lot of flocking planes). The clip is posted on the YouTube, and here's word:

The demo shows 4096 bot planes handled solely on a single GPU parallel to game rendering. The bot planes use steering behaviours for flocking, navigation and obstacle avoidance. The planes are fully lit and rendered (with shadows). The demo runs with interactive frame rate on main stream CUDA enabled graphics cards. In comparison the same simulation without utilizing CUDA achieved a similar frame rate on a decent machine with only 512 planes in our tests. The steering computation for 512 planes requires about 260.000 neighbour queries while for 4096 planes this grows to a whopping 16 Million queries. The algorithm can be easily parallelized, explaining the advantage of technologies like CUDA for this kind of problem. Even if there is a potential to optimize the algorithm for CPU the clear benefit for us is a heavily reduced development time.

Mini Ninjas Launch Trailer

The launch trailer for Mini Ninjas paves the way for next week's launch of this action/arcade ninja adventure, accompanied by a haiku, of all things: "The Mini Ninjas - Small yet strong and big of heart - Fight like Animals!" The clip can be found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Third WAR Novel Announced

EA and Black Library Publishing Announce Forged by Chaos, a third original novel based on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, the fantasy-themed MMORPG from Mythic Entertainment. The novel will be available from The Black Library Website and bookstores this fall, and here's a bit on what it's about:

“With the first two Warhammer Online novels, EMPIRE IN CHAOS and DARK STORM GATHERING, we saw the Realm vs. Realm conflict from the besieged viewpoint of Order,” said Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer for Mythic Entertainment. “FORGED BY CHAOS provides readers with their first look into the dark, megalomaniacal minds of the forces of Destruction. Rife with internal conflict, shifting allegiances, and a never-ending lust for murder, we see firsthand how this unholy alliance of Destruction is just as deadly to each other as they are to the armies of Order.”

On Sale

For your skinflinting pleasure:

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

  • Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight on CnCWorld. Thanks Mike Martinez and C&C DEN.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Majesty 2 Movie

A new "a warrior's journey" clip is now available for Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, showing off combat from this real-time strategy sequel under construction at 1C: Ino-Co. The clip is available on the YouTube, and here is the accompanying explanation of the way of the warrior: "Across the great lands of Ardania, monsters and the undead rampage throughout the wild countryside. As these foes attack trading posts, ambush caravan routes, and shock the poor and hapless peasants with their ghastly practical jokes, the economy grinds to a halt. The situation cannot be allowed to continue. A hero must rise to take on the challenge. Enter the warrior."

Atari Responds to Turbine Lawsuit

Atari sends a response to the news last week that Turbine is suing them over the marketing of Dungeons & Dragons Online and Turbine's allegations that Atari was maneuvering to breach their agreements over the game to pave the way for a competing project. Atari has filed a motion to dismiss what they call a "frivolous" legal action saying Turbine's suit "can ultimately do a great disservice to D&D fans and to the MMO community at large." They have also filed a counteraction, which presumably is no such disservice, word is:

“Last week, with no warning, Turbine filed what can only be viewed as a frivolous lawsuit against Atari. This action can ultimately do a great disservice to D&D fans and to the MMO community at large. Turbine’s actions also appear intended to divert attention from the contractual obligations that Turbine owes to Atari. In response, today Atari served a motion to dismiss the entirety of Turbine’s lawsuit. Atari also filed a separate complaint to recover monies owed to Atari resulting from an independent third party audit of Turbine. While Atari hopes for a quick and fair resolution, it remains fully committed to the D&D communities worldwide and will vigorously protect the franchise and its own integrity in this matter.”

Ships Ahoy - AaaaaA!

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is now available, offering base jumping-based gameplay from Dejobaan Games. A playable demo for the game also known as AaaaaA is available if you want to check it out before taking the plunge, and digital distribution of the full game is available from Dejobaan Games, GamersGate, Impulse, and Steam. Here's word on the game:

The jumps you make off buildings floating above Boston, Massachusetts are all about style and timing. You perform stunts, weaving around the bustling City for points, making split-second decisions: do you snake around those girders to earn a dozen "kisses," or glide along the side of that steel super-skyscraper for massive "hugs"?

Aaaaa! then throws in the spectators -- as you fall, give fans the thumbs-up and protesters the finger. And if you're hungry for a bit of civil disobedience, you can even ready the spraypaint and tag government buildings for points.

The game will also teach you how to debristle a pig.

Assassin's Creed II in November

A new Assassin's Creed II trailer is now available with the promised look at gameplay from the upcoming stealth/action sequel. The more action than stealth clip is available on the Assassin's Creed 2 website as well as Eurogamer and the YouTube, depicting some assassinations, some acrobatic navigation, and a little da Vinci-style hang gliding. The game previously had a holiday 2009 release window, but the clip concludes narrowing this to November 2009.

The Secret World Trailer

The Secret World trailer mentioned in the story below is now available on Dagbladet.no offering a cinematic promoting Funcom's upcoming conspiratorial MMORPG. Cast (in order of appearance): Feather, blonde, birds, a demon, and a pump-action shotgun, which seems like a recipe for success. Thanks Kotaku.

The Secret World Factions & Beta Access

Funcom paves the way for the revelations about The Secret World they've promised for PAX 2009 with word they will today be unveiling the three secret societies in their upcoming MMORPG through several partner websites with previews and a new cinematic trailer. Meanwhile, Dark Days Are Coming, the game's official website, offers an aptitude test to see which of these cabals will suit you best, and registering for one of them will afford you several benefits, including the chance to be invited into the game's beta test. This aptitude test has also allowed us to figure out what these three factions are, which are the Templars, which they call "the world's least secretive secret society," the Illuminati, "the most ambitious, cut-throat and furtive of secret societies," and the Dragon, who "have survived for millennia by playing their enemies against each other."

Guild Wars 2 Interview

There's a Guild Wars 2 Interview on Kill Ten Rats chatting with ArenaNet designer Jeff Grubb about the upcoming online RPG sequel. Topics include how we can expect further revelations of lore and history of the game world, the reasons dragons have set their alarm clocks to coincide with the sequel, more on the role of humans and human gods in the game, Dwarves, the Mursaat, and more.

Violence and In-Game Ads

An Advert for In-Game Violence on Technology Review discusses the results of some research suggesting that violent content in video games may help aid retention of the messages from in-game ads. The study involved two different versions of a simple racing game, and it seems players better recalled the ads in the more violent version: "Those who played a violent version of the game, where the goal was to run down pedestrians, resulting in a blood-splattered screen, demonstrated significantly better recall of advertised brands than those who played the regular version. The researchers presented their work at the International Conference on Entertainment Computing last year." Thanks Mike Martinez and Slashdot.

Twisted Pixel Announcement Tomorrow

Twisted Pixel Games announces they will reveal a new project at PAX. They will unveil a video revealing their third IP at 7:00 pm EDT tomorrow (4:00 pm local time at booth 3102, if you are attending), and they will post the video to their website after the show concludes.

Metacritic Scores and Sales

The Influence of Metacritic on Game Sales on Bitmob takes a look at a limited sample of sales figures and attempts to correlate the impact of Metacritic scores on sales. The results are mixed, but the general conclusion drawn from the data they worked with suggests that well-received games do not necessarily sell well, but that games with poor reviews almost never do. We hear more publishers emphasizing the correlation between reviews and sales lately, and it would be interesting to see analysis of this using a larger data set.

Tomb Raider: Underworld Postmortem

The Tomb Raider: Underworld Postmortem on Gamasutra was originally published in a print issue of Game Developer magazine, offering a look back at the latest Tomb Raider game. They specifically discuss pitfalls they encountered despite their efforts from the outset to avoid them, saying: "In light of that, some of the 'wrongs' will be discussed in terms of how our methods to avoid known issues fell short." These "wrongs" include the ambition to create a unified shared code base for this and other games, the ripple effect of refactoring, an unproductive preproduction phase, acts of god, and an overly ambitious design. Among the things they feel went right with development were the game's long alpha period, the team's focus on their goals, the flexibility of their production process, their establishment of proper movement metrics of Lara, and that the team never actually lost their minds during development.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Mobilization

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Okay, at this point it looks like we had all of one month of summer this year, and now fall is upon us here in the greater New York area. I guess I can deal with more spring and autumn, but I'm really not going to be happy if we end up having a six-month winter as a result of this. Brrrr.

R.I.P.: Rest in peace Esa Repo of the DOOM community.

Cool Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: SAS: Zombie Assault 2 - Insane Asylum.
Dadgame.
Links: The Beatles Rock Band Easter Eggs. Thanks superannuation.
10 Incredibly Funny Non Star Trek William Shatner Moments
Science: Airborne Boeing laser blasts ground target. Thanks Slashdot.
Images: Disney/Marvel Mashups. Thanks Digg.
Media: Grand Theft Beatles.
Luke Skywalker Spazzes Out.
So I'm watching a WW2 Documentary, then I get to this part.
Follow-ups: Spaceship passes critical review.



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