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Thursday, Dec 03, 2009

  

Gearbox TMs Borderworlds, Borderlands Patch Nears

Hot after Take Two commented on the long-term importance of the Borderlands franchise comes word on superannuation's Twitter feed (where the signal to noise ratio is the opposite of their website) that Gearbox has filed a trademark registration for Borderworlds. Meanwhile, Gearbox Software tweets about the PC release of the first DLC for Borderlands, as well as another upcoming patch: "DLC is on its way for PC (wish I had a date for you) and we have another update on the way as well with several fixes :)"

Hellgate: Tokyo

IncGamers has a trailer for Hellgate: Tokyo, act one of Hellgate: Resurrection, the revived version of Hellgate: London that's only for Asian markets, along with a release schedule for its rollout in March of next year. Though this is for Asia only, Hanbitsoft just announced plans to bring Mythos to North America, so perhaps they can work out their differences with Namco Bandai (who own the US and European rights to Hellgate: London) and bring the game back to the west.

Divinity II: Ego Draconis Trailer

A new trailer from Divinity II: Ego Draconis shows off "the power of the mind" in Larian Studios' upcoming RPG sequel. The clip is posted on FileFront, GameVideos, and WorthPlaying.

Shattered Horizon Patched & Dedicated Server Released

Steam News announces the release of a new update for Shattered Horizon with a number of changes in the first-person shooter from Futuremark Game Studio. The update is accompanied by the release of the game's dedicated server. Details on both releases follow the break: Continue here to read the full story.

Take Two Financials and Max Payne 3 Date

Take-Two Interactive announces preliminary revenue and earnings results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended October 31, 2009. They are revising previous estimations downward "due to several factors, the largest being the performance of its Major League Baseball titles in the fourth quarter." They also say "Max Payne 3 is now planned for release during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010," which we are seeing reported as a delay, but Take Two announced the shooter sequel had slipped into their fiscal 2010 over the summer. Take Two's fourth Quarter 2010 will end on October 31, 2010. Also, Joystiq quotes company chairman Strauss Zelnick from Take Two's earnings conference call saying Borderlands is "showing every sign of becoming an important, long-term franchise."

Tales of Monkey Island Finale Next Week

Telltale Games will release Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God next week, saying the final chapter in the episodic Monkey Island game is due on December 8. Here are three new Tales of Monkey Island Screenshots from the fifth chapter, and a "story so far" trailer on their channel on the YouTube to help catch you up.

Attack of the Two-Year-Old Gamers

VentureBeat reports on a new survey conducted by the NPD Group on video gaming, indicating that teens are spending less of their time playing games. The survey also offers a fascinating demographic breakdown, saying about 82% of kids from ages 2 to 17 say they are video gamers. Word is: "The survey says about 55.7 million kids are playing games, including 9.7 million who are ages 2 to 5. The largest segment is 9 to 11, with 12.4 million gamers. On average, they play games 10.6 hours a week. The time spent drops down once gamers hit the ages 15 to 17, and females don’t play as much." These are interesting data, but we are more fascinated by how they managed to survey children aged two to five.

Ninja Clans Open Beta

Acclaim announces that their browser-based fighting game Ninja Clans is now in open beta testing. Here's word, which indicates this isn't exactly Mortal Kombat: "Ninja Clans is a free to play MMO targeted to casual gamers who want to experience an imaginary world, learn new fighting skills, and build relationships with friends."

FTC on Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children

FTC Renews Call to Entertainment Industry to Curb Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children accompanies Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children (Adobe Acrobat-format), the latest report from the US Federal Trade Commission investigating industry efforts at keeping adult media out of the hands of children. "Despite considerable improvements, the self-regulatory systems are far from perfect," notes FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who also cautions, "in the future, it will be particularly important to address the challenges presented by emerging technologies – such as mobile gaming – that are quickly changing the ways that children access entertainment." Those criticisms aside, the report finds the video game industry is now doing a better job of keeping adult materials away from youngsters than the music or movie industries:

Electronic Games: The FTC finds a high degree of compliance with the video game industry’s marketing and advertising rules, although these standards allow game marketers to advertise on many television shows and Web sites popular with children. Further, retailers are enforcing age restrictions on the sale of M-rated games to children, with an average denial rate of 80 percent. The report notes, however, that children may be able to obtain M-rated games by, for example, using retailer gift cards online. Finally, the proliferation of game applications for mobile devices provides challenges – for example, some companies do not provide any rating system for games available on their networks, and there is no consistent system of age-based parental controls for these applications.

HISTORY: Great Battles Medieval Patch, New Campaign

Slitherine offers a new patch for HISTORY: Great Battles Medieval to update the Strategy RPG with a number of changes based on player feedback and a brand new campaign. The patch is available from Slitherine.com (direct link) and it is mirrored by AtomicGamer and Worthplaying. The full change list is after this link: Continue here to read the full story.

New on GameTap

The new game on GameTap for paying customers of this subscription gaming service is Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum. Their free offerings now include Just Cause, and they also announce Fallout and Treasures of Montezuma have been updated with 64-bit OS compatibility, and Fallout has been patched to version 1.1.

On Sale

Day three of Direct2Drive's game-a-day 24 Days of Christmas promotion.

  • 9th Company: Roots Of Terror on Steam. Save 20%.
  • And Yet It Moves on Impulse Driven. Save 25%.
  • Elven Legacy on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim on Direct2Drive UK. Save 75% (just one more hour).
  • Need for Speed: SHIFT on Direct2Drive. Save 50%.
  • Starscape on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Tilted Mill Complete on Impulse. Save 40%.
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Tropico Reloaded on Impulse. Save 50%.

    Still on sale (previously reported)
    Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Okay, not happy with how many stories are getting batch posted at the end of the day, so I'm going to start posting Into the Black and evening bullet posts around this time (6:00 pm EST) and then let the stories that follow go up as they show up.

Link of the Day: Star Trek Lip Dub - Happy in Paraguay (thanks Ant). Brilliant - NSFW.

Myst on GOG.com

The good old gamers at GOG.com announce the addition of Cyan Wolds games to their DRM-free marketplace. They now offer Myst Masterpiece for $5.99 and plans for the future include adding Riven and The Manhole: Masterpiece Edition.

More WoW In-Game Cutscenes

Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan on Warcraft's Past And Future on GameInformer.com is an interview that goes into detail about World of Warcraft with Jeff Kaplan, designer on Blizzard's MMORPG. The conversation covers many areas, including a bit highlighted on IncGamers (thanks Ant) saying that the version 3.3 patch will include their next experiments with in-game cutscenes:

Cutscenes will always be something that we use sparingly, yes. We never want to interrupt gameplay too frequently or for too long of a period of time. The Wrathgate cutscene was a big experiment for us. It was our first foray into in-game cutscenes in World of Warcraft. I don’t think we’ve fully refined how we want cutscenes to work with future World of Warcraft content.

We debate like crazy. We debate the length, we debate the frequency, and we have a lot of theories, but Blizzard is a really iterative development house. I think what’s going to have to happen is that you’ll see more cutscenes come into the game for us to really refine our strategy with them. We definitely have an eye toward more cutscenes, but at the same time, we don’t want to become just a cutscene game.

Even before Cataclysm, in patch 3.3, there’s going to be a really exciting cutscene moment that’s going to be our next experiment with that.

Games for Windows LIVE Digital Distribution Nears

The Games for Windows LIVE Website announces Microsoft's online gaming service will begin offering digital distribution of games beginning December 15, which will "take full advantage of the unique capabilities offered by the LIVE service," which are not described. Here's a bit:

“With Games on Demand, we didn’t just want to create a cut-and-paste version of existing digital distribution services,” said Mike Ybarra, General Manager of LIVE Engagement Services. “We challenged ourselves to deliver an integrated platform that takes full advantage of the unique capabilities offered by the LIVE service. Our goal has always been to create a seamless online gaming experience for the Windows community, and Games on Demand is a great step toward that end.”

The launch lineup will include recent hits like Resident Evil 5 (Capcom), Red Faction: Guerilla (THQ), and Battlestations: Pacific (EIDOS), as well as new exclusive LIVE-enabled versions of popular digital games like World of Goo and Osmos, distributed by Microsoft Game Studios. All games can be purchased either by credit card or with Microsoft Points. Games on Demand for Windows will be available in markets that currently support the Games for Windows — LIVE service.

Microsoft is also offering an updated LIVE-enabled version of Tinker, formerly an exclusive Windows Vista Ultimate Extra, as a completely free download from the Games for Windows — LIVE client.

THQ Montréal Studio Planned

THQ announces plans to open a studio in Montréal, revealing plans to take advantage of local development talent as well as tax breaks. Here's a bit:

“The company that we are welcoming today will be able to capitalize on Québec’s many advantages, including its creative and highly skilled workforce. In addition, THQ will be able to benefit from Montréal’s cultural diversity to translate and adapt titles into several languages for worldwide distribution,” stated Minister Gignac.

THQ’s Montréal studio will be phased in gradually, employing approximately 60 people in the first year and up to 400 people within five years. This approach is in keeping with the current labour equilibrium in effect among major industry players based in Québec and allows for harmonious growth as new graduates are hired over time.

The Québec government has put in place a number of progressive measures to support the growth of the multimedia industry, a sector that holds great promise for our economy. THQ can benefit from these measures and is eligible for the Multimedia Title Tax Credit.

Another Brink Trailer

G4tv.com has one more in their series of exclusive videos from Brink, the first-person shooter in development at Splash Damage. The clip is titled "Objective Perspective Part 2," so it precedes the clip posted earlier. The clip shows some combat as a soldier and then a switch to the engineer class to show off the engineer's weaponry, as well as some engineering as he creates a turret and then repairs a crane.

DOFUS 2.0

ANKAMA announces the launch of the new version 2.0 of DOFUS, their MMORPG, adding new features and other changes to what they claim is one of the five top online games in the world, boasting a playerbase of over 25 million. The announcement outlines what's new and different in what is a fresh start, as they say: "At launch, DOFUS 2.0 will only support new characters. To celebrate the launch milestone, ANKAMA is offering a special incentive by offering double XP and double drop rate from December 2 through December 16, 2009. Character migration from DOFUS to DOFUS 2.0 will be implemented shortly. ANKAMA will make future announcements on DOFUS 2.0 development updates."

Star Trek Online Interview

The Star Trek Online interview on Techulous talks with Daniel Stahl, producer on Cryptic's upcoming sci-fi MMORPG. They discuss crafting, the guild system, economics, PvP, the role of bridges on starships, and more.

Mass Effect 2: The Shooter

The Mass Effect 2 Interview on VideoGamer.com is an extensive conversation with BioWare's Casey "game over man" Hudson about Mass Effect 2, the upcoming action/RPG sequel. Topics include their goals for the game (that one gets a lengthy answer), changes to the controls and combat, inspirations, squad control, removal of the weapon overheat system, enemy AI, sub-quests, new features of the Normandy (another marathon answer), storytelling, expectations, and more. We've seen indications that BioWare is emphasizing the shooter aspects of the sequel, and one of Hudson's answers elaborates on that: "But then the other part of it is we are out to compete with the very best shooters in the world, in terms of being able to pick it up and have fun playing it. We're looking at the top shooters that are out there, whether it's third-person or first-person, just looking at the very best games, the way they feel, the way they move, and making sure we compare Mass Effect 2 side by side, and keep tuning it and developing it until it feels as good as the best games out there that you're going to play."

M.U.L.E. Revival Nears?

Planet M.U.L.E. now has a countdown dealie that's at three days, ticking off the time until 00:00:00 UTC on December 6 (December 5 at 8:00 pm EST). We saw indications a few months ago on the Ozark Softscape Legacy Website from the children of late designer Danielle Bunten Berry (nee Daniel Paul Bunten) that a revival of M.U.L.E. was in the works, and the site has since been updated with a pointer to Planet M.U.L.E., saying: "We have looked for nearly a year to find the right person with a passion for the game and respect for Dad and Ozark to work on a new MULE release for the internet. The time is here. We hope you enjoy it." Thanks Rhialto. M.U.L.E. is a turn-based strategy game released in 1983 for 8-bit computer systems, and to this day is widely considered one of the most influential titles in gaming history.

Venetica Patch

A new patch for Venetica is now available to update the English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish editions of Deck13 Interactive's fantasy-themed RPG to version 1.02 (though we didn't know the game has been released outside of Germany yet). You can find the patch on AtomicGamer, FileFront, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying.

WAR Novel Released

EA and The Black Library announce that Forged By Chaos is now available in US bookstores and on the Games Workshop Website, offering the third novel based on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, the MMORPG based on Games Workshop's Warhammer universe. Word is: "FORGED BY CHAOS is written by noted Black Library author C.L. Werner and provides a gripping account of Destruction’s incursion into the infinitely massive and decidedly deadly Bastion Stair in search of the legendary Spear of Myrmidia."

Brink Trailer

Another new video on G4tv.com shows off more of Brink, the upcoming first-person shooter in the works at Splash Damage. The clip is titled Objective Perspective Part 3, and word is: "In part 3 of 3 of our exclusive Brink developer preview video series, Splash Damage game director Paul Wedgwood pulls out the Solider Class and Heavy Weapons-Loadout to duke it out in the online multiplayer mode." The clip features in-game footage including gunplay and placement of timed charges (which include goofy touch-typing sequences), concluding with a cliffhanger ending.

Ships Ahoy - Elven Legacy: Magic

Paradox Interactive announces the release of Elven Legacy: Magic, the third installment in the Elven Legacy Trilogy. This expansion is available via digital distribution and requires the original Elven Legacy to play. Here are some new screenshots, there's a launch trailer on the YouTube, and here's the key features list from the announcement:

• 15 new campaign missions
• A new hero and the return of heroes of old
• New tactical skills; armies of summons, and sacred dwarven runes
• Powerful new spells and artifacts that can drastically affect any given tactical situation if used correctly
• Bonus mission that continues the tales of heroes from Elven Legacy and Fantasy Wars

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands PC Plans

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is heading to Windows, reports German website GamersGlobal, even though the Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands announcement from the other day only announces "consoles and handhelds" for the May 2010 release of the next installment in the platformer series. The site received the following statement from Ubisoft German PR Head Niels Bodgan: "Wir können bestätigen, dass es eine PC Version geben wird!" A rough Babel Fish translation of this reads: "We can confirm that it will give PC a version."

Homefront 2 Plans

Though Homefront is still in development at Kaos Studios, THQ is already discussing plans for Homefront 2, a follow-up to the military first-person shooter, reports GameSpot. "This is about a guy moving some fuel," THQ's Danny Bilson told an investor's conference. "That's what the single-player is about, to restart some vehicles and retake the Golden Gate Bridge. It's the beginning of a story. We're going to tell this like a serial, with cliff-hangers. And then we intend to continue the story in [downloadable content], until we go to Homefront 2." Of this DLC, he says it will include a mix of single-player and multiplayer content. He also says they are willingly taking on the big boys: "This is one of our big bets, I'll be honest," Bilson said. "People say, 'Why are you going into this Call of Duty space?' And it's because I know we can compete. I know we can compete."

EA Wants #1 FPS Spot

Kotaku has some statements from EA chief John Riccitiello about EA's ambitions of regaining the top spot in the first-person shooter market they feel Activision currently enjoys with the Call of Duty series. "I'm not saying it's going to happen tomorrow, but in the way that Activision sort of alternates sequels of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty and owns the leadership position in FPS [first-person-shooter], between Medal of Honor and Battlefield, I want it back," Riccitiello told them. "And we're going to get there with innovation and quality." He explains why, in a comment that suggest he actually plays these games:

I think the Infinity Ward guys are great. It's not about them being bad for us having to be great too. I'm a fan of a lot of our competitors' products. But if you've played Modern Warfare, and you've played the first one — and you've played the last Call of Duty — it's sort of starting to feel like they're making the same game again. And I personally think being able to control your vehicle as opposed to being able to ride on one [is good]. And I think there's something a little bit cool about taking a building out and getting the six guys in it. Personally, I get sort of a silly amount of pleasure out of it.

More Edge of Twilight Follow-up

Aussie developer FUZZYEYES has issued an official statement about the already refuted rumor that said the company is effectively shut down and that their RPG Edge of Twilight would never see the light of day. Here's the statement (we're pretty sure they meant "cease" instead of "seize"):

On 30th of September, FUZZYEYES has let go the majority of staffs as FUZZYEYES was confronted with number of challenges, including economic downturn and some legal complications. In order to reduce the operating cost during this problematic time, FUZZYEYES came to a difficult and unfortunate decision to reduce the number of staffs to a minimum.

On 5th of October, FUZZYEYES has struck a deal to sell portion of shares to a third party company. During this transition period, FUZZYEYES will temporarily seize further development on any project. However, FUZZYEYES is still in business and the office is still open. Until the transition is fully settled, FUZZYEYES will suspend all onsite development, but all out sourced development is still on going. FUZZYEYES will be back in full operation after the settlement, and a number of FUZZYEYES ex-employees has been offered a position in early 2010. Further details will be released once the transition has fully completed.

Lu, Wei-Yao CEO of FUZZYEYES

Gothic 3 & More on Steam

Steam News announces they are now selling Gothic 3, the RPG sequel from Piranha Bytes. They also announce sales of the Madballs Devil's Night Skin Pack as well as Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror and Broken Sword III: The Sleeping Dragon. Here's the accompanying blurb about Gothic 3: "Myrtana, a world in upheaval: overrun by orcs from the dark lands in the north, King Rhobar is defending Vengard, the former stronghold of the humans, with his last troop of followers. Chaos reigns without: rebels are offering resistance, and the Hashishin of the south are openly collaborating with the orcs."

Need for Speed: SHIFT Performance Boosts

PC Games Hardware outlines performance improvements for Need for Speed: SHIFT under ATI Radeon accelerators after the recent patch for EA's racing sequel. They report frame rate increases of up to 44% depending on settings and model of video card. They also report boosts for NVIDIA GeForce accelerators, but these are modest, ranging from two to four percent.

Left 4 Dead 2 Interview

There's a Doug Lombardi video interview on Electric Playground where the Valve spokesperson discusses the multiplayer modes in the "upcoming" Left 4 Dead 2, as it was shot before the game's release. There's lots of gameplay footage to illustrate the topic of conversation.

Op Ed

IncGamers - Open-World Evolution Column.
Now, though, most open-world games do have a linear order. If I say open-world, it probably conjures images of Grand Theft Auto, Just Cause, Saints Row, Prototype, Infamous, and so on and so forth, which are linear games that give you a huge “hub” with plenty of side missions and hidden bonuses to occupy your time. The illusion, usually, is that you're in a living, breathing world that you can impact in a variety of different ways at any given time, even if your ultimate goal is to progress through the entirely linear set of missions that make up the core gameplay.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

  • James Cameron's Avatar: The Game on GameSpot.
  • King Arthur : The Role-playing Wargame on GameSpot.
  • Rogue Warrior on GameSpot. 2 of 10? Ouch!

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

We have some lovely weather around here today, which is a little startling considering it's December. This is supposed to change pretty soon, though, as they are calling for snow Saturday night. I saw a national forecast that said it was likely to snow today in Amarillo, TX, which got me wondering how often the first snows of winter hit Texas before they hit New York. I'm guessing not too often.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Yahtzee and the Imps Invasion.
Paradoxion Express.
Screw Effect.
Links: The Amazing World of Coca-Cola. Thanks Neatorama.
10 Reasons You Won't Die a TV Death.
Tweet in Klingon. Thanks Mark.
Stories: Dude that's cool!- Mother's reaction after she pulls out girl's tooth with a remote control car.
Police: Confused men try to rob Md. funeral home. Thanks Slashdot.
Science: Men's genes 'may limit lifespan'.
NASA: Debris no threat to space station.
Man controlled robotic hand with thoughts. Thanks dakslf. Still has nothing on Gil Hamilton.
Images: Ingenious Pac Man ring-set.
Steve Ballmer Rendered in BSODs and Meta Facepalm. Thanks Digg.
Media: Zero Punctuation: Assassin's Creed 2. NSFW.
Doom Super Mario Remix Mod Gameplay Video.
Superman: The Musical. Thanks Digg.
Follow-ups: 7 critical commercial space concerns the US must tackle.
Darpa Puts On Contest to Find 10 Red Balloons Across U.S. Thanks j.c.f.



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