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Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009

  

Ships Ahoy - Fallout 3 GotY Edition

The Bethesda Blog announces that the Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America, offering Bethesda Softworks' action/RPG and all five of its DLC packs (Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta) in one package for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The European release of the GotY edition is expected on Friday.

City of Heroes Guest Missions Live

The City of Heroes Website announces the guest author missions are now live in the superhero MMORPG. There are missions from Scott Kurtz, Rooster Teeth, and Bill Willingham, and word is: "All you need to do to enjoy them is login, find an Architect Entertainment building, and open the mission browser. We hope you enjoy the missions, and stay tuned as we plan to announce additional Guest Authors soon!" Thanks Massively.

Painkiller Resurrection Details

A Painkiller Resurrection Product Section is now online from 1337 Aussie publisher N3VRF41L Publishing offering screenshots from Homegrown Games' upcoming continuation of this shooter series (thanks The Patches Scrolls). Since we've never seen this game officially announced in the six months since it was unveiled, here's their description as well:

As with every journey into purgatory, the journey in Painkiller: Resurrection starts with death and pain. William Wild Bill Sherman, an ex CIA Agent and specialist for dangerous missions in the Black Ops Special Unit has a big problem: during his last job, he has managed to not only kill the head of an illegal drug operation and a slew of innocent civilians, but himself in a fatal mistake. Trapped in a hostile place between heaven and hell, his soul flickers between the millions of faceless infidels and good and evil forces start to use Wild Bill for their own needs. But, it turns out that nothing is as it seemed at the beginning...solve the mystery and give the equilibrium between heaven and hell a little flip!

Features:

    • Cooperative Mode: Players are able to work together in the battle against demons and bosses.
    • Intense gameplay: The player will be constantly outnumbered, fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds.
    • Next-generation graphics: In addition to the 3D PAIN Engine capacity the game now also includes motion blur and increased dynamic lighting.
    • Combo weapons: All weapons come in pairs, with a primary and secondary fire.
    • Morphing: Your unholy pact gives you the power to morph into a powerful possessed creature with every 100 souls collected.
    • Monster AI: Advanced AI coding will simulate group behaviours. Monsters dont spawn onto the map, they patrol. They are constantly aware of the player, and will coordinate their attacks by retreating, regrouping and counterattacking.
    • Physics Engine: Painkiller employs the Havok 2.0 physics engine, allowing for inverse kinematics (rag-doll physics) and deformable, interactive environments.

Star Wars Galaxies Patch Notes

Star Wars Galaxies Forums offer the patch notes for Game Update 14, aka "Death Troopers," which should be live by now in the Star Wars MMORPG. They're not saying that there are zombie storm troopers out there, but they do say this: "After a mysterious turn of events the Empire has mustered an enormous military presence in a remote location on Dathomir. Imperial High Command has issued a travel warning to notify citizens to avoid travel to the planet if possible." Thanks Massively.

New on Steam

Steam announces the availability of some new titles via their digital distribution service. Darkest of Days is now available in Europe, they also now offer Raven's WW2 shooter Wolfenstein, and NBA 2K10 is now available offering the latest installment in this sports series.

Dragon Age: Origins Interviews

There's a Dragon Age Origins interview on The Game Reviews chatting with Mike Laidlaw, asking some in-depth questions of the lead developer on BioWare's upcoming RPG. There's another interview with Mike on Strategy Informer that also focuses on Dragon Age, though they also asked about a possible return to Jade Empire, learning that this is one of their pet favorites that they would love to revisit when the time is right: "We will certainly announce it if it’s going to be coming out. At this point, Jade Empire is a staff favourite and a lot of us love it, so we’d love to revisit it at some point. But right now, we are very focused on Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2."

Blur Trailer

A new Blur trailer is now available to show off more of the hard driving action in Bizarre Creations' upcoming motorsports game. The clip shows off some of Blur's power-ups as well as a glimpse of four-player split-screen. The clip is available from AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

New ATI Stream Beta SDK

AMD Developer Central now offers a fourth beta version of the ATI Stream SDK version 2.0 with OpenCL 1.0 Support. Word is: "This release is certified fully compliant with OpenCL 1.0 by the Khronos Group and is supported on a wide range of AMD GPUs (see http://developer.amd.com/streambeta for the full support list) as well as any x86 multi-core CPU supporting SSE3."

The Sims 3 World Adventures Music Details

EA Announces more than a dozen more musicians who are willing to subject their art to Simlish translation for The Sims 3 World Adventures, the upcoming expansion for the lifestyle simulation sequel. The list includes: "GRAMMY Award-winner LeAnn Rimes and hot rising stars Fefe Dobson, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, Katie Melua, Esme Denters, Evan Taubenfeld, Madina Lake, and more."

Mass Effect Comic Preview

Comic Book Resources now offers a preview of the first six pages of Dark Horse's Mass Effect comic book. Word is: "Mass Effect 2 begins with the disappearance of Commander Shepard. The story of what happens next—exclusive to these comics—will have the commander’s companion Dr. Liara T’Soni undertake a deadly mission of extraordinary importance in the Milky Way’s lawless Terminus Systems." Thanks VG247.

Gatherings & Competitions

On Sale

Steam's THQ Week will offer a sale on one THQ title each day this week:

  • Company of Heroes on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Eufloria on Steam. Save 25% on pre-purchases until October 20.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization IV- The Complete Edition on Steam. Save 50%.

    Still on sale (previously reported)
     
  • GoGamer's 48 Hour Madness. Far too many to list, even for us!
  • Borderlands on Direct2Drive. Save 10% on preorders.
  • Borderlands on Steam. Save 10% on pre-purchase of the game or the four-pack.
  • Cricket Revolution on Steam. Save 10% on pre-purchases.
  • East India Company on Direct2Drive. Only $5.00.
  • Gratuitous Space Battles on Impulse. Save 13% on preorders.
  • Machinarium on Direct2Drive. Preorders save 25%.
  • Metal Drift on Steam. Save 20% on pre-purchase and get beta access.
  • Nemesis of the Roman Empire on Impulse. Save 47%.
  • Painkiller: Resurrection on Steam. Save 10% on pre-purchases and get PK: Black and PK: Overdose free.
  • Raven Squad on Steam. Includes a free copy of Legendary.
  • SFI Mission 4-Pack on the Strategy First Website. Four games for $19.99.
  • Spiderweb Software Store. All games 10% off through October.
  • Team Fortress 2 on Best Buy and FRYS.com. Only $9.99. Thanks Johnny.
  • THQ Classic FPS Bundle on Impulse. Save 25%.
  • Tropico 3 Pre-purchase on Steam. Save 10%.
  • Tropico 3 on Direct2Drive. Preorders save 10%.
  • Warlords Battlecry III on Impulse. Save 47%.
  • Wolfenstein on Amazon. Save 46%.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - The Last Stand on GameInfoWire.

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Action Gaming and ADD?

Medical journal Psychophysiology announces the results of a study in the latest issue of their magazine suggesting action gaming has different effects on two types of cognitive activity: proactive and reactive attention. There is an abstract of the study here, and here is a chunk of the announcement outlining how their data "converges with other recent findings indicating that there is a relation between frequent video game playing and Attention Deficit Disorder." Word is:

Proactive attention can be thought of as a sort of “gearing up” mechanism. For instance, when players that are familiar with a particular game anticipate an action they need to take, such as getting a key or a pot of gold, in order to get to the next level. Reactive control is described as happening “just in time”, for example, when a monster suddenly appears that is about to thwart the player’s advantage or ability to get to the next level.
[…]
The researchers found that the just-in-time form of control was similar in the two groups of gamers. In contrast, brain wave and behavioral measures of proactive attention (the “gearing up” mechanism”) were significantly diminished in the frequent video game players. These data reveal a reduction in brain activity and disruption of behavior associated with sustained attention ability related to video game experience, which converges with other recent findings indicating that there is a relation between frequent video game playing and ADD. This negative relationship between action games and proactive attention can be contrasted with the beneficial effects of these games on other aspects of visual processing. The research team is also exploring whether non-gamers who play action games produce the same results as those found in frequent players.

Borderlands Interview

The Illusions We Make on Gamasutra is an interview with Gearbox's Randy Pitchford about Borderlands, their upcoming role-playing shooter. They discuss how the developers' enjoyment of their own game is slowing its progress, the addictive Diablo-style loot collection, comparisons with Fallout 3, the pacing of a shooter, storytelling, caring about characters, how enemies will not level up along with the player, the art and illusion of game design, and more.

Dawn of War The Last Stand Trailer, Patch Notes

Dawn of War II Website offers a new The Last Stand Feature, a narrated trailer showing off the upcoming free DLC for Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War II, Relic's RTS sequel. The clip has details on the DLC, saying you will go up against "one more race that you have not yet seen in the Dawn of War 2 universe." They have also posted The Last Stand Update 1.8 Release Notes (thanks The Patches Scrolls) showing what to expect along with the update, which involves a lengthy list of balance changes. The DLC is not too far off, as the clip says it's due "mid-October," and it is posted under the following note: "Relic designers Blake Gilroy and Chris Becker talk about The Last Stand...release is imminent!"

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Trailer

A new trailer from Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight shows off more of the recently unveiled Crawler units in the real-time strategy sequel as part of their "birth of a unit" series. The clip is available on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. On a semi-related note, Five Reasons Why We'll See a Command and Conquer MMORPG is an article (spotted on Slashdot by Ant) where the author makes a case that EA's future plans for the C&C series might include an MMOG.

Race Driver GRID Patch - DLC Coming?

A new patch for Race Driver GRID is now available to update Codemasters' motorsports simulation to version 1.3. The new version adds support for upcoming DLC, increases the maximum view distance, and addresses a number of bugs. The patch is available from Codemasters and it is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, Strategy Informer, and The Patches Scrolls.

ACES Team Flies Again

Cascade Game Foundry announces its existence to the world as a new development studio focused on creating simulations, said to be currently "hard at work on the design and demo for their first project." This Seattle, Washington-based developer is headed up by former executives of Microsoft's Aces Studio, which was disolved earlier this year, and their staff includes a "number of other former Aces members and game industry veterans." The Cascade Game Foundry Website is online, and here's a bit from the press release:

Seattle, Washington, October 13, 2009 – Cascade Game Foundry, a new game development studio in Washington, today announced their entry into the simulation marketplace with an experienced team of industry pros poised to create a portfolio of innovative and engaging products which will appeal to both aficionados and people new to the genre.

The two founders, Creative Director Rick Selby and Managing Director Kathie Flood, are no strangers to simulations - both are former Microsoft Aces Studio leaders and industry veterans. Not only will Cascade Game Foundry address the significant hole in the simulation market left by Microsoft’s recent departure, it will push new boundaries with the latest in cutting-edge graphics, simulation and web technology.

Dragon Age Character Creator & Social Network Launch

BioWare announces that the Dragon Age: Origins Website now features downloads of the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator and signups for the BioWare Social Network in North America and Europe are now underway. Word is: "The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator and BioWare Social Network gives gamers a chance to kick start their adventure by creating a character and unique avatar online to reflect their in-game personality and share it with the Dragon Age: Origins community. The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator also allows players to save their handmade character to use when the PC game launches in November. This stand alone application is now available free of charge exclusively on the PC at: www.dragonage.com." Downloads of the Character Creator are mirrored on AtomicGamer and FileFront.

Pick Your Own World of Goo Price

2D Boy is offering the opportunity to name your own price to purchase World of Goo, their gooey platformer. Their site is currently barely responsive, so it seems the response to this offer has been positive. The offer applies to the Windows, MacOS, and Linux editions of the game between now and October 19. Thanks Big Download.

Naumachia: Space Warfare Revealed

There's a new video on the YouTube with footage from a beta version of Naumachia: Space Warfare, an upcoming online space combat game that was unveiled at the Italian Videogame Developers Conference, according to Rock, Paper, Shotgun (there is also an earlier YouTube clip with alpha footage). The game is under development at Italian indie developer AureaSection, and their website offers a FAQ answering some questions about the game:

Q: Is there a release date set?
A: We are trying for a 2009 release.

Q: Is Naumachia a MMO?
A: No, the game is session based, you join/host a battle, you play, you disconnect. Some statistics will be saved but they wont affect the gameplay.

Q: Is Naumachia free?
A: Although the game will be free to download and play, to enjoy all its features you will have to buy a (cheap) license.

Q: What about the singleplayer?
A: At the moment we are focusing on the multiplayer but a single player campaign expansion is already on our wish list.

Ubisoft on Assassin's Creed 3 and Beyond

Computer and Video Games has some info from a recent print interview with Ubisoft about the Assassin's Creed series. They discuss the possible setting of a third game in the stealth/action series, saying they've had discussions of placing it during World War II with a female protagonist, though it's not clear if this is something they are seriously entertaining, or just an example of the flexibility the game's concept offers, as producer Sébastien Puel says: "So maybe in this context you were a woman in England during WWII. Why not? Nothing prevents us from doing it." They also quote creative director Patrice Fortier indicating your great-great grandchildren may have the chance to play a new Assassin's Creed game on their Xbox 3600000 or PlayStation 50: "I'm often asked if we're doing a third game after ACII... I mean, we could do 35 of these."

Zombie Cow Interview

The Zombie Cow interview on Gamasutra talks with Dan Marshall of these "Adventure Game Resurrectionists" about their corner of the independent game development scene. Topics include the success of Time Gentlemen, Please! and how that's helped move their other efforts forward, their focus on writing, humor, the reasons none of their games have featured voice acting, the fine art of being borderline offensive, pricing, and his background in games journalism, which inspires him to say: "I think all games journos should be forced to make a game somehow, see how they get on. It gives you a more rounded perspective."

Earth Eternal Open Beta

Sparkplay Media announces open beta testing is now underway for Earth Eternal, their browser-based subscription-free MMORPG. Here's a bit:

"With Earth Eternal, we’re raising the bar for browser-based MMOs, while simultaneously lowering the barriers to entry," said Matt Mihaly, CEO and founder, Sparkplay Media. "We’ve stripped away roadblocks like subscription fees and massive downloads that discourage many people from playing MMO games. At the same time, people are going to be surprised by the sophistication and depth we’re offering in a free-to-play game that runs in the browser.”

Featuring deep, original content, Earth Eternal has a 3D graphical look and feel that is more typical of top tier downloadable MMOs. The game takes place in an expansive world where players will encounter everything from verdant valleys to desert oases to dark, corrupted forests to major cities like Camelot and Heartwood, the tree city. While Earth Eternal is a true browser-based 3D MMO, Sparkplay Media will also offer an optional download. The gameplay experience will be the same whether in the browser or via the downloadable client.

Saboteur Preorder Bonus

GameStop is offering an in-game "Nazi knife" as a preorder bonus for The Saboteur, Pandemic's upcoming World War II stealth/action game. Word is: "Reserve your copy of The Saboteur today and make your enemies die at the blade of their own steel with an exclusive Nazi knife, stolen from your enemies. This in-game weapon gives you the ultimate revenge with a silent and swift execution maneuver. Available only for online and in-store customers that pre-order The Saboteur while supplies last." There's a "leaked" trailer showing a little stealthy knife action on Destructoid.

PlaySEGA VIP Trial

PlaySEGA is now offering 10-day free trials of the VIP area of their online gaming service. PlaySEGA offers a variety of SEGA games and casual offerings that can be played online for free. The VIP program involves a monthly fee to access additional exclusive games and bypass the advertisements shown to non-VIPs. Thanks VideoGamer.com.

Cancelled SimCASTLE and SimMARS Revealed

The online biography of artist Ward Moore noticed by the noticers at superannuation reveals two SimCity spin-offs Maxis cancelled before release, saying: "I would also be fortunate enough to create art for SimCASTLE and SimMARS first playable projects. (These would both be cancelled in favor of the blockbuster SIMS.)" Also, the portfolio for illustrator Corey Keller (likewise spotted by superannuation) has some concept art from one of the projects, as Corey says: "These drawings and texture tile examples were done for the unreleased Maxis Kids title "SimCastle". This was a cheery medieval simulator based on the popular SimTown engine."

Oxygen Games Resuscitated

The assets of Oxygen Games have been purchased by OG International, a company headed by a former Oxygen Games boss, reports MCV, where they say as a result, "Oxygen Games won’t lose a single member of staff," in spite of the company falling into administration. They say that 13 former Oxygen staff have joined OG International, where they intend to "immediately" begin marketing and selling Oxygen games and IP.

Dragon Age: Origins Merchandizing

The Dragon Age: Origins Interview on The Game Reviews chats with Mark Darrah, Executive Producer on BioWare's upcoming RPG. Along the way they learn that before the game hits gamers' systems they are already gearing up a merchandizing blitz: "So right now there is a novel coming out before the game, and another novel coming out along with the game. There is a pen and paper game in the works. We have apparel deals. We are working with a company to potentially get swords made. We also are working on comic book, and a few other things just in a planning phase at the moment."

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising DLC Plans

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising video game developer interview on the Telegraph discusses the newly released military shooter, discussing the game's realism and graphics, and also outlining plans for patches and DLC:

We’ve got some very ambitious plans with DLC – our first pack is coming up in a matter of weeks. We’ll also have title updates coming up because once the game’s out there, we’ll need to get feedback from the people who are playing it, and if need be make a few adjustments and tweaks.

Our team are already prototyping all sorts of stuff to be released as DLC and we’re really excited about it. It’s a really different type of market now; I remember five or six years ago, you’d get a game, finish it, put it back on the shelf and that was it. But now it’s almost as though the game’s release is just the beginning, really. Ours is a game that lends itself very well to expansion – there will be weapons packs, map packs – all sorts of things we can do to get our product out there.

Cloud Gaming Demonstration

VideoSift highlights a clip on the YouTube from a few months ago where TechCrunch demonstrated OTOY, one of the upcoming cloud-based gaming services. They show Grand Theft Auto IV being played on a laptop streaming from the cloud, showing the game to be generally playable though the demonstrator's estimate of the lag is a quarter second, or a whopping 250 ms. The game also has no sound during the demonstration, being one of the things the OTOY folks were still working out. Thanks Ant.

Op Ed

Negative Gamer - Videogame Journalism Doesn’t And Can’t Exist.
Perhaps labelling most videogame writers as sell-outs is a bit much. You can’t sell out of something you never bought into. Most writers claim they are doing what they do because they love games. They don’t long for lasting industry improvements, they don’t lament a lack of transparency and they sure don’t want to see gaming scale the IQ pile. They do it for a love of games, more accurately free games.

Edge Online - Death Of The Author.
For me it feels fairly inevitable. The importance of the author is diminishing and the importance of the collaborator in the story, the social framework in which it’s happening and the simulation of the world in which it takes place are increasingly important. The question is, do we ever reach a threshold where the author becomes zero? In the immediate short-term future, I see improving the ‘movie games’ we have. Telling better stories in our scripted events is very marketable. But in the mid-term, in the next decade, I don’t see how the lone author can stand up against this wave – an increasingly massive player-base that’s able to participate in a story. I think that’s going to overwhelm the importance of the author. Maybe I’m wrong.

Koku Gamer - Video Games Are Art. Thanks Ant via Digg.
The key error in Ebert’s logic is…

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I have to get a blood test today as a follow-up at the doctor's. In the past 15 years I don't recall visiting the doctor once outside of my regular physicals, but due to a variety of circumstances, I've been a regular fixture there lately, which I am not particularly happy about. As Devicer jokes, at least I have my health!

Healthy Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Necromanthus Warcraft.
Hey Wizard 2.
Mummy Tombs.
Links: Hot Punkins, Fresh off the Line.
12 Hottest Geek Girls. Thanks Ralph.
Stories: Independence Day Sequel Stalled By Fox. Thanks Digg.
Train drags German mooner half naked along tracks.
Science: Building a Bridge of (and to) the Future (registration required). Thanks j.c.f.
Dyson launches the bladeless electric fan. Thanks Stadius.
Bizarre Dinosaurs- Why Were Some So Strange?
Images: If Classic Videogames Had Achievements. Thanks Digg.
130 Halloween Pumpkin Carvings for Your Inspiration.
Media: New Escape From City 17 Trailer.
Best - Worst Halloween Costume Ever. NSFW.
Left 4 Dead Mushroom Massacre Map Gameplay. Thanks Kotaku.
Follow-ups: The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate (registration required). Thanks j.c.f.
Asteroid impact-driven climate change called into question.
Revealed: The flash nobody saw when Nasa's £49million 'bomb' crashed into the Moon.
Fox: We will air all 13 'Dollhouse' episodes.



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