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Friday, Sep 04, 2009

  

Torchlight Next Month

Runic Games Announces October 27 as the official launch date for Torchlight, the action/RPG from this developer founded by vets of Flagship's Mythos project, Travis Baldree and Max Schaefer. The game will be available via digital distribution for $19.99 USD, and here's a bit on what it will offer:

Torchlight sets itself apart from other action RPGs with its intuitive, approachable interface, which enables gamers of all skill levels to quickly immerse themselves into the rich game play and varied world of Torchlight. The level randomizer will ensure that each adventure is unique, with different monsters, treasures, puzzles and items for players to find, defeat, and unlock. Through a powerful suite of development tools, Runic Games will empower players and game enthusiasts alike to create and share their own content and levels.

Comic Jumper Revealed

A new trailer on the YouTube offers the promised revelation of the third game from Twisted Pixel, which is titled Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. The clip offers a humorous introduction to the good captain and his sidekick, who has a little of the Kuato in him. No details are offered, and this may be a console-only project.

Capcom to Make "PC-Lead" Games

VG247 has details from their podcast interview with Capcom's Christian Svensson, who reveals they are working on a couple of games designed for PC to be ported to consoles, rather than their usual MO, which is the reverse. Word is:

"We do have a couple of products in development which are PC-lead, that are not announced yet," he said. "That doesn’t mean that that content isn’t also going to show up on console, because it will."

"But the pedigree of the team and the primary focus of the design is around the PC, and the largest forecast is on PC for at least one of these projects."

Fight Night Round 4 Lawsuit

Electronic Arts sued over Fight Night Round 4 on Destructoid outlines a legal action from Fighters Inc., a sports licensing group that claims to hold group licensing contracts for an unstated number of the fighters depicted in Fight Night Round 4. According to their complaint, EA "undermined the interests" of these boxers by signing them to individual contracts rather than work through Fighters, Inc. They say EA took "money out of the pockets of all professional boxers who are participating in the group licensing program," and that "its intentional misconduct could completely destroy what we are trying to build to empower today's professional boxers with the same marketing and earning presence that is enjoyed by professional athletes in all major sports." They are seeking $15 million USD in compensation and damages.

DeathSpank Trailer

A teaser trailer from DeathSpank is available on the YouTube showing the upcoming action/adventure game from Hothead Games and the notably zany mind of Ron Gilbert. Ready your resolve, and view the hero and/or curse known as Dispenser of Justice, Vanquisher of Evil, and Hero to the Downtrodden.

New Steam Client

Another new Steam client update is announced on Steam News. Word is:

A Steam client update is now available. To apply the update, click the File menu inside of Steam and then select "Check for Steam Client Updates...". The specific changes include:

Steam Client
    • Fixed issue with scroll bars on HTML pages not showing after javascript DOM modification changed page height
    • Fixed issue where Steam can not be closed after playing Section 8
    • Fixed Champions Online keys not always being available when Steam first starts

New RailWorks DLC

Steam now offers sales of Rascal & Cottonwood RailWorks Expansion Pack, another new DLC pack for RailWorks. Word is: "Rascal and Cottonwood comes with 11 scenarios ranging from simple unrestricted free roaming, introductions and every day tasks, and even a bit railfanning observation."

Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy Free Update

Steam News announces a "major" free update for Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy. The new version includes a new co-op mode featuring 20 levels, new Steam achievements, and much more.

On Sale

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Into the Black

Look at that, I was right about PAX news trumping the Labor Day weekend. What do I win?

Free MW4 "Very Shortly"

Inspired by a question in our forums, we found a follow-up from a couple of weeks ago on MekTek.net to the announcement in early July that a free release of MechWarrior 4 was coming "soon." It turns out the announcement was almost as unexpected for them as for the rest of us, and they have been working ever since to remove DRM from the game, update their matchmaking software that's taking the place of Microsoft's now-defunct Zonematch service, and finalize the software that will allow the game to be patched after release. Other issues must also be resolved prior to release, including completion of legal paperwork and the completion of proper server infrastructure:

The unfortunate aspect of all this great news is that all of these new developments could have been ironed out before the announcement but they were not. Our partners felt an initial announcement was necessary and so did we. We plan to release Mechwarrior4 for FREE when developments are completed and considered stable. We are also waiting on legal paper work from lawyers and as anyone out there that has worked in the professional industry knows, something of this magnitude takes time on all fronts. MekTek is not receiving any financial support from the partners regarding this release and obviously no one can quit their daytime job to get the job done faster either. The release has entered beta status and will be delivered to the world very shortly. MekTek is supported through donations from our community and thus far we have received 50% of our goal to cover server infrastructure costs. We hope the community will continue to support us during this very busy time to ensure we have the best possible hardware in place for this release.

No PC Section 8 Demo Plans

A thread on the TimeGate Studios Forums inquires about plans for a demo for Section 8, the first-person shooter from TimeGate Studios that was released in North America just today (thanks DG). Unfortunately, the reply from TimeGate's community liaison indicates there probably will not be one: "We do not have plans to release a Section 8 demo for the PC at this time. Currently, we only have a demo for the Xbox 360 version."

Need for Speed: SHIFT Specs & DRM

The minimum system requirements for Need for Speed: SHIFT are now posted on Needforspeed.com, though they don't have recommended specs for the upcoming racing sequel. The specs say a wheel is optional but an internet connection is required, so we contacted EA to see if this internet requirement was related to DRM, and were told that it is not, and that in spite of what these requirements specify, an internet connection is not mandatory. For DRM the game will use SecuROM for a disc check with no online component at all, though if players do choose to play online, there will be an online authentication for software updates and online play. Having settled that, we move on to the minimum system requirements:

Required – Internet Connection
OS - Windows XP (Service Pack 3) or Windows Vista (Service Pack 1) / Windows 7
Processor – Intel Core™2 Duo 1.6 GHz or faster
Memory – XP: 1 GB RAM; Vista/Windows 7: 1.5 GB RAM
Hard Drive – 6 GB
DVD Drive - 8 SPEED
Video Card – 256 MB Video Card, with support for Pixel Shader 3.0*
Sound Card - DirectX 9.0c compatible
DirectX - DirectX 9.0c compatible
Online Multiplayer – 512 Kbps or faster; 2-12 Players
Input - Keyboard, Mouse
Optional – USB Steering Wheel / Dual Analogue Gamepad

*Supported Video Cards: ATI Radeon X1800 XT 512MB or greater; NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB or greater. Laptop versions of these chipsets may work but are not supported. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.

Left 4 Dead 2 Details, Screenshots

Valve announces their plans for showing off Left 4 Dead 2 at the Penny Arcade Expo, where they will unveil the Dark Carnival campaign, the Jockey boss, the "uncommon common" Zombie Clown, and items "being offered as a pre-sell exclusive with select retailers." This is accompanied by a batch of new Left 4 Dead 2 screenshots showing off these characters, and here's word:

Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2), the sequel to the best-selling and critically-acclaimed action thriller from Valve is being shown this weekend at The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle, Washington.

The game is available to play, by the press and public, at Valve and Microsoft's Xbox 360 booth.

After debuting "The Parish" campaign (set in the New Orleans' French Quarter) at E3 and "Swamp Fever" at Comic Con San Diego, Dark Carnival is the third 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 Jockey" this is the third new Boss infected from L4D2 revealed thus far (the Charger was revealed at E3, The Spitter at Comic Con). The Jockey lets you attack lone Survivors and wrestle control of their movement away from them-into fire, off ledges, or straight into the middle of a zombie horde.

In addition to the new campaign and boss monster the PAX showing of L4D2 marks the debut of the "Zombie Clown," the "uncommon common" exclusive to the Dark Carnival campaign, and a few more of the 20-plus new items coming in the full product (electric guitar, machete, and the American baseball bat being offered as a pre-sell exclusive with select retailers).

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.

Casual Star Wars MMOG Rumor

Ten Ton Hammer reports on a rumor they've heard "from an inside source" that Sony Online Entertainment is planning to team with LucasArts for another Star Wars-based MMORPG, which will be targeted towards a more casual audience. The details they have are pretty scant, but they indicate they've heard the game will use the browser-based game engine from Free Realms and the game will be set during the Clone Wars.

Ships Ahoy - PC Section 8

Section 8 for Windows is now on sale in North America, offering PC owners to get in on the first-person shooter action from TimeGate Studios that Xbox 360 owners have been experiencing for a while now. The Games for Windows LIVE edition of the jetpack-powered shooter is due in the UK and Asia on September 11 and in Europe on September 18. Here's a bit from the announcement:

Section 8 allows players to join the epic conflict between the 8th Armored Infantry – nicknamed ‘Section 8’ - and the Arm of Orion by taking part in fierce combat across majestic alien worlds. Players create their own unique game experiences by customizing equipment Loadouts, and dramatically impact the flow of battle through strategic vehicle and asset requisitions. Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs) are player-driven objectives, generated during the course of combat, that affect gameplay with tangible rewards for completion. In addition to the deep single-player campaign and multiplayer mode for up to 40 combatants, Section 8 features an Instant Action mode where players can challenge the game’s competitive AI on any of the multiplayer maps. For the competitive gamer, Section 8 will implement an online stats portal on Friday, September 11, which boasts a phenomenal in-depth stat-tracking system, showing clan and individual rankings on over 50 unique fully-searchable Leaderboards.

Hearts of Iron III Patch

A new patch is now available for Hearts of Iron III to update Paradox Interactive's World War II grand strategy sequel to version 1.2, adding a number of player-requested features. The new version can be applied automatically by selecting "check for updates" in the game launcher. Also, there's a new "meet the team" video on the YouTube offering a behind-the-scenes look at the game's development, where we learn the one word to describe their feelings about the response to the game is "happy, happy, joy, joy" (whatever points they lose for math they earn back in Ren & Stimpy-ness). Here's word on the patch:

- Expanded interface including new map options, as well as more flexible control over what you can automate.
- Significantly improved AI, providing a greater challenge to the player.
- Improved game balance, with major focus on making diplomacy and officers more fun.
- Optimization to allow the game to run much smoother for most players.

The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood

Turbine Unveils The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood, a new expansion for the Lord of the Rings Online due this fall. The add-on will raise the level cap in the MMORPG, add a new region, and introduce skirmishes: "a new system where players will train customizable soldiers and take them into battle as part of the War of the Ring." A teaser website is online, and here's the feature list:

  • The Epic Conclusion to Volume II: Mines of Moria™ – Under the command of Celeborn and Galadriel, players will fight through vast armies of Orcs alongside the Elves of Lórien in a battle that will take them to Dol Guldur, the fortress of the Ringwraiths. This update includes Book 9 and the Epilogue to the sweeping epic tale begun with the award-winning Mines of Moria expansion.
  • Increased Level Cap — Players will be able advance their characters up to level 65, gaining access to new traits, virtues, skills and class quests.
  • Answer the Call of War! – Jump into the heat of battle with the new Skirmishes feature. Skirmishes offer endless action in repeatable, randomized instances where players can create and lead customizable soldiers into battle, training them to greater skill as they earn victories against the forces of shadow. Answer the call of war wherever violence erupts with the new “World Join” function that lets players and their fellowships band together to fight in various locations throughout Middle-earth.
  • Take up Arms! – Infiltrate the dark jails, deadly arenas and savage stables of Dol Guldur, the fortress of the Ringwraiths, and strike a blow against Sauron’s forces in new 3 and 6-player instances. Call upon your fellows to adventure into the most deadly 12-player raid yet and face the ultimate challenge – the Nazgûl Lord!
  • Major Gameplay Enhancements – Turbine continues to improve the award-winning experience of LOTRO with major improvements to the combat and Legendary Items systems. Players will experience improved responsiveness when in the heat of battle. Players will also be able to create and craft their own customized Second and Third Age Legendary Items from raw materials and grow their weapons’ power to level 60. Achieve new Legacies, new titles, and a fourth Runic slot that will make Legendary Items even more unique and powerful.

Fort Zombie Announced

Lock Your Doors, Then Nail Them Shut as Paradox Interactive Unleashes Fort Zombie This Fall announces plans for a "lite" action/RPG title that will be available via digital distribution this fall. The announcement is accompanied by a batch of screenshots, and here's word:

In Fort Zombie, players will find themselves trapped in the small town of Piety, Indiana. Faced with no other choice but to find shelter from an impending wave of zombies migrating from a nearby metropolis, players will be challenged to choose a building to be their fort throughout the entire campaign. By effectively focusing efforts on building up this structure in between scouring the town for supplies and searching out and training survivors, players will have a shot at surviving the massive zombie onslaught.

For the few remaining citizens of Piety, each new day brings more fear. Only the most prepared citizens of Piety will stand a chance against the zombie infestation. Choose from a variety of daily tasks and efficiently build up your character's stats and skills as you battle blood-thirsty invaders and attempt to avoid total infestation. Most importantly, you must build up your fort for anyone to have any hope of surviving the last, big stand-off against the coming undead swarm.

This fall, stay alive and be prepared for the fight of your life in Fort Zombie!

BioShock 2 MP Trailer

The promised "epic world premiere trailer for BioShock 2 multiplayer" is now available on GameTrailers.com after debuting on GTTV in the wee hours. The clip starts with a pleasant duck-and-cover style intro before segueing into some chaotic multiplayer footage, where big daddies, little sisters, splicers, and more all battle it out with guns and plasmids, resulting in loads of chaos.

MechWarrior Legal Conflict

IGN reports on potential legal hurdles the recently announced MechWarrior revival from Piranha Games may have to overcome before its release. They have received a cease and desist order from Harmony Gold, co-copyright owner of the television series Robotech, demanding they remove the related MechWarrior teaser movie. IGN contacted Smith and Tinker about this, but received a "no comment" for the moment, and here's their outline of the dispute:

The letter claims that the use of certain trademarked figures from the Robotech/Macross universe are prohibited as a result of a prior settlement that dates back to 1996. While MechWarrior isn't part of the Robotech/Macross universe, the similarities between vehicles has been enough to cause legal issues and raise questions. Apparently, some of those trademarked figures appear in the trailer used by Piranha Games in its announcement of the MechWarrior reboot earlier this year, and a request has been made for that trailer to be pulled from IGN.

This development could put the future of MechWarrior in jeopardy. A trademark dispute could derail the game's development. On the flip side, it could also simply result in specific characters, logos, or other trademarked material from being included in the final product.

Star Trek Online Beta Applications

The Star Trek Online Website announces they are now accepting sign-ups for closed beta testing of Cryptic's upcoming Trekkie MMORPG, saying they'll randomly select testers from that group. Those who have purchased a six-month or lifetime subscription to Champions Online are already accepted into the upcoming testing, and they tell these people: "We’ll have more information about how and when you can join the beta at a later date."

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Trailer

The intro video from Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising outlines the war torn history of Skira Island starting in the 15th century and on into the near future setting of Codemaster's military shooter. The cinematic clip is available on the YouTube.

Splinter Cell: Conviction Trailer

Keyboard Sam on the YouTube offers a cinematic pre-PAX teaser for Splinter Cell: Conviction, the upcoming stealth sequel. The clip is good for a chuckle, recalling a certain internet meme from a few months ago. Thanks Kotaku.

Madballs in...Babo:Invasion Date Change

The release date for Madballs in...Babo:Invasion in last night's announcement about distribution plans for the arcade shooter changed almost immediately after it was posted. The original announcement listed a September 7 release, but a subsequent revised announcement this date is listed as September 17, and it seems pretty apparent that the change corrects a typo in the original, rather than a delay.

Op Ed

Gamasutra - The First-Person Immersion Myth.
Are first-person games inherently more immersive? A lot of developers seem to presume that they are, but let’s take a second look. Consider the last time you felt like you actually were the character in a game you played. I’d be willing to guess that most people will say “never.” We don’t generally take on the role of the character we’re playing, except as children in imaginary play.

What most of us do is identify with the character -- and how can you identify with a character you can’t see, a character who usually doesn’t even talk or have any opinions about the horrible things going on around him? This goes back to the “silent hero” dilemma that has existed ever since role-playing made its way into the electronic world, notoriously perpetuated by the Japanese console RPG.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Metaverse

Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well, today kicks off the Labor Day weekend here in the US, a holiday large enough that it would normally suppress game news a bit. On the other hand, today also kicks off Penny Arcade Expo 2009, an event large enough that it would normally produce a load of game news. It seems pretty obvious who will win in this conflict between an irresistible force and an immoveable object, and I imagine we'll see a good deal of news out of the show.

Laborious Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: DAZ 3.5.
Civiballs 2.
Puzazzle.
Links: Fantasy Telemarketer.
Honolulu Council Considers BO Ban. Thanks Boing Boing.
Stories: Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women. Thanks Ralph.
Tron Legacy- Hits December 2010. Thanks nin
Science: Lasers Can Chill Stuff Super Fast.
NASA teams to build pod-like, high-speed everyday transport system.
Bats Sing Louder than a Rock Band.
Images: Colleagues Fail. AKA Congress FAIL.
Media: Kirk and Khan SALSA!! He tasks me!
100 Ways to Die in Oblivion.
Rock Band- Radiohead Edition.
Follow-ups: Orbiting junk approaching Discovery, ISS.
Notes from the Space Elevator Conference.
The Funnies: Penny Arcade! - Rightsizing.



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