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Thursday, Dec 17, 2009

  

TF2 Soldier Wins: Update Live, Free Weekend Begins

The Team Fortress 2 Blog announces the Soldiers are the big winners in the war against the Demomen over who would get the remaining item in the new Team Fortress 2 update. That new update is also now live, marking the start of a weekend of free play in the class-based shooter that runs through Sunday at 4:00 pm EST. Word is: "Sorry, Demomen. You fought the good fight and kept it far closer than anybody could have predicted. But in the end, at the noon Thursday deadline, the Soldiers kept their razor-thin lead, with 6,406,065 killed Demomen to the Demo's score of 6,372,979 killed Sollys." The new newspaper shows the Soldier's new item to be "The Gunboats," a pair of secondary-slot boots that significantly reduce splash damage from rocket jumping (no word if they also reduce splash damage from enemy rockets). It also reveals two all-new maps, CP-gorge and CTF-Doublecross. Steam News has all the details on the new update, the free weekend, and the 50%-off sale on Team Fortress 2 that lasts until Monday.

SOE's Child's Play Drive

Sony Online Entertainment announces their 2nd annual "Virtual Fundraising Drive" to benefit the Child's Play charity. They are offering special items for the event for sale in EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Free Realms, with the proceeds going to buy toys for kids in hospitals. "We were thrilled with the contributions our players allowed us to make to the previous Child’s Play campaign and with the addition of Free Realms this year, we are hoping to double our previous $21,000 donation," says John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment. "The support the video game industry has given Child’s Play over the years is fantastic, and we are humbled to be a part of it."

Infinity Ward on MW2 Fixes

Infinity Ward on Medal of Honor, glitches on Joystiq is a brief conversation with Vince Zampella and Jason West of Infinity Ward during the Spike VGA Awards. The pair seem unfazed about the Medal of Honor series going all modern warfare, and explain that members of the team have been fixing bugs in the game on their own time, as they all went on vacation, apparently presuming a problem-free launch: "Yeah, the studio has been shut down for all of December, but these guys are playing the game and they want to come in on their own time to fix it and patch it. Considering that they're all on vacation, the responsiveness of the team has been pretty awesome."

BioWare: Mass Effect 2 Reviews Will Exceed the Original

The Mass Effect 2 Interview on Computer and Video Games chats with Adrien Cho, producer on Mass Effect 2, BioWare's upcoming RPG sequel. They discuss various aspects of the game, including his feeling that the game should be complete and off to manufacturing by Christmas. He also expresses optimism that the game will be better reviewed than its well-received predecessor: "Yeah [I'm optimistic]. Not in an egotistical way but from the sheer joy of craftsman knowing that the hard work that we put into it really shows through," he told them. "We're just so sure that we've made a solid, good product." There's also a Mass Effect 2 Interview on Strategy Informer that talks with Adrien as well.

Just Cause 2 Trailer

G4tv.com has a new Just Cause 2 trailer that premiered on X-Play. The "Island in Chaos" trailer shows off the political turmoil on Panau, the fictional island where the action/shooter sequel is set. Not to worry, in this game, even political turmoil involves parachutes, grappling hooks, and lots of explosions.

On Sale

Atari's D&D Lawsuit Response

Atari has issued an official response to Hasbro's lawsuit over Dungeons & Dragons distribution:

"Atari has had a long and rich history with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, investing millions of dollars into numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful games that have generated significant revenue for Hasbro. Hasbro has resorted to these meritless allegations, in an apparent attempt to unfairly take back rights granted to Atari. Atari has sought to resolve the matter without cooperation from Hasbro. We regret that our long-time partner has decided to pursue this action. Atari will respond appropriately through its legal counsel in court."

Nuclear Dawn Trailer

The first teaser trailer from Nuclear Dawn is now available, showing off this upcoming Source-engine game in development at InterWave Studios. Here's a bit on the game: "With compelling RTS and FPS gameplay elements, Nuclear Dawn delivers tactical, class-based gameplay that will let players sneak around the ruins of man's greatest accomplishments with Stealth units, or just crush the rubble underfoot with the powerhouse Exo walking tank. Tomorrow's generals will take the Commander's seat, and support their fellow players with outposts, defensive structures and fortresses to protect precious resource points." The clip is located on the Nuclear Dawn Media Page and the YouTube.

Dark Void Trailer

The Dark Void trailers just keep coming, as Capcom has released another look at Airtight Games' upcoming vertically-unchallenged shooter. The new clip is called "Gun, Lots of Guns" as it gives the jetpack a rest and concentrates on the arsenal of weapons found in game. The clip is downloadable from WorthPlaying and can be view on the YouTube or below. Continue here to read the full story.

Splinter Cell: Conviction Co-op Trailer

A new Splinter Cell: Conviction trailer introduces the "unforgettable co-op campaign" from the upcoming stealth/action sequel, saying: "Experience the prequel to Splinter Cell Conviction." The clip shows some combat, and concludes with a touching scene of our two special operatives holding hands. No, really. The clip can be found on GameVideos, GameTrailers, and the YouTube.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Take-Two Financials: Borderlands Sells 2M

Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2009 Financial Results has Take-Two's final results for the quarter, following preliminary results announced two weeks ago. Revenues are down and losses are up for the year versus the previous year, a no-brainer after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008. They include the following tidbit about Borderlands sales: "Borderlands from 2K Games has now sold over 2 million units worldwide and has established itself as a key franchise for Take-Two, for which the Company has long-term publishing rights."

Quake Wars Online Trailer

The Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Website has a new teaser trailer from Quake Wars Online, a subscription-free online edition of Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars being developed for the Korean market. They also point out the game's official website is enlisting 100,000 beta testers, and to participate one should probably have a working knowledge of the Korean language at the very least, though living in Korea is probably that much more optimal.

TF2 War Ends

The Team Fortress 2 Blog declares that the war over the new Team Fortress 2 weapon between the Soldier and the Demoman is over, but they do not know the winner yet. The last update on the topic had these figures: Demoman Killed: 6,323,921 - Dead Soldiers: 6,298,465. They are currently tabulating the results, and barring any hanging chads, will announce the outcome soon. There is also the following note: "Beginning now, we're going to start transitioning the new inventory system into the game. Until the update goes live later today, you will not have access to your inventory."

The Guild Comic to Begin

DC's Wildstorm Comics has cancelled their monthly comic books based on Warcraft and StarCraft, reports IGN, saying Wildstorm will instead produce larger-format graphic novels to be announced at some time next year. A World of Warcraft special that just hit stores will conclude that series, while the StarCraft series will conclude on January 20, 2010 with the release of issue #7. In other game/comic related news Big Download has word that Dark Horse Comics is planning a series based on internet series The Guild, saying the first issue will go on sale in March 2010.

Tank Ace Beta

The Tank Ace Website announces this World War II third-person armored combat game is now in closed beta testing, leading up to its launch early next year as a subscription-free online game. Word is: "features realistic World War II battlefields and vehicle stats based on actual historical facts. Players can choose from multiple historically accurate WWII tanks and then customize them by adding additional armor, different styles of camouflage, body art, kill marks, and clan insignias."

Divinity II: Ego Draconis Trailer

A fourth gameplay trailer from Divinity II: Ego Draconis, is now available from Larian Studios' upcoming RPG sequel. The clip covers character development and the game's class-free skill tree: "which lets players customize their Dragon Slayer's fighting talents in any way they see fit. Want to play as a Healing Warrior or a spell-casting Mage Ranger? The sky's the limit with over 70 skills to specialize in, creating the character of your dreams." The clip is available on the YouTube and right here. Continue here to read the full story.

Hasbro Sues Atari/Infogrames over D&D Distribution

Hasbro is suing Atari/Infogrames over Dungeons & Dragons licensing:

PAWTUCKET, RI--(Marketwire - December 16, 2009) - Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS) today filed a complaint in the District Court of Rhode Island against Infogrames Entertainment S.A., a.k.a Atari, S.A., alleging fraud and five different breaches of their licensing agreement for the Dungeons & Dragons brand.

Dungeons & Dragons is owned by Hasbro's wholly-owned subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, who discovered earlier this year that Atari may have entered into an unauthorized sublicensing relationship with Namco Bandai Partners (NBP) for the Dungeons & Dragons digital game rights. NBP is a competitor for both Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro, and such an agreement is prohibited under the contract between Hasbro and Atari.

"While unfortunate that we had to take this action, it is crucial for us to protect the Dungeons & Dragons brand," said Greg Leeds, President of Wizards of the Coast. "We have been working for several months now to reach resolution with Atari, and they have left us with no other choice than to pursue legal action."

Hasbro is seeking compensatory damages for economic losses suffered as well as a termination of the licensing agreement.

New ATI Reference Drivers

GAME.AMD.COM now offers downloads of new version 9.12 reference drivers for ATI graphics cards. The new drivers offer 3DMark Vantage performance improvements and up to 6% framerate increases for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat running under single card configurations.

New NVIDIA Beta Drivers

NVIDIA has new version 195.81 beta drivers for GeForce accelerators. There are new drivers for Windows XP, Windows 7/Vista 32-bit, Windows XP x64, and Windows 7/Vista 64-bit.Word is the new drivers add SLI profile support for the Avatar Demo, the Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Demo, and Wings of Prey and fix bugs with the Flash 10.1 beta 2. Thanks Ant via FiringSquad.

Strike Fighters 2 Patches, Bundle

Third Wire Productions announces the release of Dec 2009 updates for the entire Strike Fighters 2 series of combat flight simulators. There's a separate read me for Strike Fighters 2 Israel and for all other Strike Fighters 2 games. They also now offer the Strike Fighters 2 Collection 2009 as a bundle, saying this is "by popular demand" that for some reason will only available for purchase on their online store for a limited time until Dec 28, 2009. They are offering the collection free to those who have all 4 Strike Fighters 2 games separately, pointing the way to this forum thread for more details. Thanks Jim.

Dragon Age: Origins Patch

Dragon Age: Origins Customer Support now offers a new patch for Dragon Age: Origins to update BioWare's RPG to version 1.02a. The patch is not actually linked there (they advertize version 1.02 but offer version 1.01b), but it can be found here (direct link), so there are no details on what this patch does. The download is mirrored on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying.

Paradox Interactive Acquires AGEOD, Rise of Prussia Revealed

Paradox Interactive announces the acquisition of AGE Studio, parent company of French strategy game developer AGEOD. "This alliance will allow AGEOD to expand our audience and availability via Paradox’s worldwide network as well as obtain skills and expertise that our limited means prevented us from achieving on our own,” Philippe Thibaut, lead game designer and co-founder of AGEOD noted. “We will concentrate on our core expertise of product development and be able to offer our customers brand new strategy games as early as 2010, with the same level of care and dedication that we have for the past 5 years." They say the first title to be released under this new relationship will be Rise of Prussia, though no details on that are offered at this time except that it's scheduled for a Q1 2010 release.

The Saboteur ATI Beta Patch Tomorrow

The Saboteur Forums list tomorrow as an ETA for a beta patch for The Saboteur that will attempt to address issues with the Windows edition of the game, including the issue with ATI accelerators, which apparently are not confined to ATI products, as they mention NVIDIA issues as well. Word is: "The initial testing of the BETA Patch has rendered promising results."

Tex Murphy 1 & 2 for Free on GOG.com

GOG.com is offering everyone a holiday gift of the first two Tex Murphy games, offering the early adventures of Tex Murphy, private investigator in post World War III San Francisco. Tex Murphy 1 and Tex Murphy 2 can be downloaded completely for free between now and December 24. Not wanting to disappoint customers who have already purchased these games, they say: "If you have bought the Tex Murphy 1+2 bundle before our giveaway, don't worry - we have an alternative offer for you. Register here and we'll contact you about details."

FINAL FANTASY XIV Beta Signups

The FINAL FANTASY XIV Website is now accepting signups from those interested in beta testing FINAL FANTASY XIV, the MMORPG currently in development at Square Enix. Word is: "By taking part, applicants will be one step closer to obtaining a sneak peek at one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2010, and the unknown realm of Eorzea. FINAL FANTASY XIV is planned for simultaneous global release in 2010 on both the PlayStation®3 and PC (for Windows®) platforms, with language support in Japanese, English, French and German."

Majesty 2 Editor and Patch Plans

Paradox Interactive announces general plans for the next patch for Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, 1C:Ino Co's real-time strategy sequel as well as the upcoming release of a brand new map editor to allow you to create custom content. Here's word on the patch: "A third patch is in the works which will include fixes and updates, as well as a much requested randomization feature. With the patch, it will be possible to assign randomization to the original campaign maps. Randomization will be added to items in treasure chests, non-quest monster dens, the special zones for trading posts and temples."

winSPWW2 Patch

The winSPWW2 Website offers a new patch to update this free World War II strategy game to version 4.0. The patch includes 22 new scenarios, 52 revised scenarios, 6 revised campaigns including the ANZAC campaign, a new class, casualty counts for destroyed buildings, and more.

C&C4 Offense Class Details, Trailers

The Command & Conquer Website features a new "Beta Uplink Series" part two, with details from the multiplayer beta test that's currently underway for Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, the upcoming RTS sequel. The game will feature three classes for each faction; offensive, defensive, and support, and today's update focuses on the offensive class. They offer details on the class, as well as some key strategic tactics and tips for playing as this class, a bunch of gameplay trailers, and a couple of screenshots. The C&C4 multiplayer demo can be accessed by those who preorder the game.

Aion Double XP Weekends

The Aion Website has a general discussion of plans to make player progression easier in NCsoft's MMORPG, saying they have long term plans to make the process of completing levels 1-35 in the game easier. Since this is going to take some time to work out and implement, they also announce the next three weekends will be double XP weekends, and that after that they plan on offering double XP weekends once or twice a month. They add they are also adding some changes in this week’s patch: "Soul Healing will be less expensive for characters of all levels, and we’re increasing the experience bonus that Energy of Repose bestows for levels 20–44." Thanks Kotaku.

Star Trek Online Quinto Trailer, Klingon PvP Details

Atari and Cryptic Studios offer a new trailer highlighting Zachary Quinto's recently announced voice acting role in the upcoming Star Trek MMORPG. They also have a new article with Klingon gameplay details, describing at what point players will be able to roll up a Klingon character, the PvP aspects of the game, and the ships available at different ranks in the Klingon Empire. The article is accompanied by a bunch of Star Trek Online Klingon screenshots, and the Zachary Quinto trailer is available on the YouTube and below. Continue here to read the full story.

Championship Manager 2010 Patch and New CM Season Live

The Championship Manager Website now offers a new CM Season Live for download for subscribers, as well as a Championship Manager 2010 December update for all owners of the association football/soccer simulation (the new CM Live and patch are bundled together, so subscribers only need one download). The December update is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and WorthPlaying. Highlights from the change list follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Mytheon Stress Test Monday

A stress test for Mytheon is planned for Monday, as True Games looks to put Petroglyph's upcoming online action/RPG through some paces in advance of its closed beta testing. As a reward, they are promising Stress Test participants priority in gaining entrance into the closed beta, which will begin next month. "We want our players to stress our servers and push our technology to its limits so we can really evaluate things in preparation for our official closed beta in January," says True Games' Peter Cesario. "We invite you to tell your friends and family and really put our servers to the test. And, in return, you will get a first look at the game and a ton of cool exclusives." There are more details in this press release.

TF2 War Ends Today, More Update Details

The latest update to the Team Fortress 2 Blog announces how close the battle is for the secret weapon in the Team Fortress 2 update planned for today, which will kick off a free weekend for Valve's teamplay shooter. The tally as of publication was 5,727,928 Soldiers to 5,742,720 Demomen, which they point out is "close." Their latest newspaper dealie is also online, with more weapon reveals: The Soldier's Equalizer, the Scottish Resistance for The Demoman, and The Soldier's Buff Banner. Back to the Soldier/Demoman competition, they promise these numbers are legitimate: "Adding in the points awarded to our recent Propaganda Contest winners—60,000 frags added to the Killed Demomen score and 25,000 added to the Killed Soldier score—the war currently stands neck-and-neck at 5,727,928 Killed Soldiers to 5,742,720 Killed Demos. We need to stress to you that we have not gamed these numbers in any way: After a solid week of gut-grinding combat and an astonishing 11,470,648 total kills, the Demomen and Soldiers are separated by a mere 14,792 points."

Medal of Honor Trailer Details

The Medal of Honor Trailer Q&A on the Medal of Honor Website has answers from executive producer Greg Goodrich to questions about the recently released trailer for the new Medal of Honor game. He explains the trailer is all in-game footage, how you can expect to be able to operate the vehicles seen in the trailer, how this will be the first "M" rated Medal of Honor game, and how they take the PC version of the game "as seriously" as any other version. There's also a video on Gamervision breaking down what's seen in the trailer frame-by-frame.

Team Fortress 2 Poster Contest Winners

The Team Fortress 2 Blog has the three winning entries in Valve's Team Fortress 2 Propaganda Poster contest. They received over 11,000 submissions and say that they are still sorting through the remainder and will be handing out a few more prizes along the way. Remember, "Give 'em the boot... right in the fruit!"

Post Script Episode 1

The first installment of the Post Script episodic modification for Half-Life 2 is now available. Word is: "Post Script is an episodic narrative mod for Valve Software's Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Explore the remains of a town destroyed by its own tragedy in a collection of short, interactive vignettes. Solve environmental puzzles and uncover the mystery of how, somewhere along the line, the whole world fell out of existence completely." There's a teaser trailer from the mod on the YouTube. Thanks Ant via Half-Life Fallout.

On Game Credits

A new article on Kotaku examines the issue of developer credits in video games, a hot topic a year ago when the issue was raised by an un-credited developer on the Warhammer Online team, which was followed up a few times after that. In the year since this came up not much has changed, they discuss crediting failures in Operation Flashpoint 2 and how the IGDA has been kicking around standards for game crediting for a couple of years now, but nothing has come of that yet. They also explore how credits are sometimes used in lieu of pay raises: "Just as common as a studio's failure to assign credit is the use of game crediting as leverage – a way to get more work out of developers for less pay, or to force a designer with a particular specialty to stay on a project when there's another one at his studio on which he'd rather work. The fact that in most cases, credits aren't agreed on until a project's end means there's plenty of room for bargaining and bullying."

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Singer Returns To -X-Men- Franchise (thanks nin). That's good news, though the whole prequel thing is not so appealing (I wonder if they'll wear the yellow and blue spandex outfits?). At least they haven't gotten to the reboot stage yet.

Well-Fed Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Empire Builder - Ancient Egypt.
Eruption.
Link: Let's Say Thanks. Send postcards to overseas troops through Xerox. Thanks Wolfen.
Stories: Car Crash Injury Leaves Woman Constantly Craving Sex. Thanks theAntiELVIS.
'Star Wars' stormtrooper costumes not artistic, says court.
Science: NASA maps Mercury, plans for 2011 orbit extravaganza.
Scientists crack 'entire genetic code' of cancer. Thanks Slashdot.
Images: Simpsons 20th anniversary poster. Thanks Digg.
Media: Apple - Movie Trailers - Iron Man 2. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Alice in Wonderland Full-Length Trailer. Thanks Digg.
Hand Written Clock. Thanks nin.
The Funnies: Abstruse Goose » Truecolor. Thanks Digg.
Follow-up: Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Radioactive Longer Than Expected. Thanks j.c.f.



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