A new EA Service Update announces plans to shut down online servers for some of their previous titles (thanks Kotaku), though the number of games affected is not as extensive as the list of games for which support was discontinued. There are only two PC games on the hit list for March 16: Lord of the Rings: Conquest and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. They also want it known this is not undertaken lightly, saying: "As background information, the games scheduled for shutdown in March and April 2010 represent less than 0.3% of all peak online players across all EA titles. Despite some people's perception, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these older games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99.7% of customers playing our more popular games. These decisions to retire games is never easy. The EA development teams and operational staff pour their hearts into these games almost as much as the customers playing them and it is hard to see one retired. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage." The full list of EA's discontinued game servers follows. Continue here to read the full story.
BioWare designer Christina Norman tweets a response to a request for word on whether we can ever expect KOTOR 3, a third installment in Knights of the Old Republic, the Star Wars RPG series. Her reply indicates they feel their upcoming MMORPG Star Wars The Old Republic is actually a sequel to the KOTOR games. Or five sequels to be more precise, as she says: "Kotor 3? Yes, it's called "The Old Republic" and it is KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8!"
StarcraftWire.net has word that the official forums for the StarCraft II beta test are live, and while only beta participants can post there, the forums can be viewed by all. There are forums in English (NA), English (EU), Deutsch, Español (EU), Français, Italiano, Polska, Русский, and 한국어, though things may be a little rocky trying to visit as they continue to work at connecting all the dots between the StarCraft Forums, the old Battle.net, and the new Battle.net. Thanks Targetgamer.
Sony Online Entertainment announces the release of Sentinel's Fate, the sixth expansion for EverQuest II, their long-running MMORPG sequel. The add-on includes a number of changes suggested by players as well as content inspired by the original EverQuest, including a level cap that's been raised to 90, two new zones, a dozen new dungeons, 400 new quests, hundreds of new creatures, and more. The expansion also includes the previous five expansions all rolled into one package, and the announcement describes four different ways to acquire it: Retail standard and collector's editions that are available right now, and two digitally distributed versions will be released next week, one for purchase with cash money, and the other that can be had for Sony space bucks. The launch trailer showing off the add-on follows in HD. Continue here to read the full story.
Cliffski’s Blog has word from Positech owner Cliff Harris on the release of a new patch for Gratuitous Space Battles, the tactical game of gratuitous space battles. The update has performance improvements, a couple of new features and a bug fix. Word is: "The patch will auto-download over the next 24 hours for existing buyers. New buyers get a ready-patched copy anyway." On a related note, there is an Interview with Positech's Cliffski on Alltern8.com where they discuss his life as a one-man game development studio.
Following last week's peek and reveal for the female monk in Diablo III, Blizzard's Diablo III Barbarian Page now reveals the female version of the Barbarian class from the upcoming action/RPG sequel. She certainly looks up to the task of dishing out some barbarism, and is well armored enough to be a tank, while cleverly leaving enough décolletage to distract enemies with the awesome power of boobs.
Today is the North American release date for Aliens vs Predator, so Rebellion's three-faction shooter remake should be available at North American retail locations, with the release in European territories expected on Friday, though Steam's listing for the NA release says: "Aliens vs. Predator will be available to other major territories on Thursday." A playable demo is available, offering a multiplayer sample of the game. Speaking of multiplayer, the promised dedicated server is not yet available, but there's word on this from Rebellion on the Steam Users' Forums (thanks Voodoo Extreme), where they say: "We hope to have a beta release with reduced functionality out in the next few days and further updates to improve functionality and fix bugs over the next few weeks."
Steam News announces the release of a new patch to automatically update King Arthur - The Role-playing Wargame to version 1.04. The list of major changes is below. Continue here to read the full story.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands will be released for all platforms on May 18, says Shacknews in a story about plans for a Wii version of the platformer sequel (which has some interesting Wii-mote implications). Noting that the PC edition has a June date in online listings, they double checked with Ubisoft, who verified its May release, saying: "All skus will be released on May 18."
Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games discusses Kings and Castles, GPG's just announced real-time strategy game for PC and consoles, in an interview on Big Download. They discuss a bit about what to expect from the game, even though it is currently in the early stages of development. They also have a little meta-conversation about discussing the project so early on, as GPG has already explained they plan to be very transparent about the game's development from the start. When asked how this fits with the belief of some that games are already overhyped with too much advance info, Chris seems unconcerned: "I think it's a totally changing world, and we need to change with it. Most of the time the secrets are kept for competitive reasons, as most of the details of the game are released in the months leading up to release. We're trying something new, and only time will tell how well it works... somebody had to do it!"
A post to the Codemasters Forums by Community Manager Ian "Helios" Webster reveals that there are no plans to issue further downloadable content for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising following the upcoming release of the Overwatch DLC for the PS3 edition of the modern military shooter. They explain that post-release technical support will continue on as before, but that they are already looking ahead to their next game instead of more DLC: "We are sorry if Dragon Rising and the two DLCs released to date have left you wanting even more, but in the grand scheme of future plans and schedules the vast majority of the team are already busy planning the future of modern combat." Thanks The Patches Scrolls.
Futuremark Games Studio announces the release of the Moonrise content pack for Shattered Horizon, which is free for owners of their zero-G DirectX 10 science fiction shooter, doubling the size of the game with four new levels. We were a bit mystified over how to get the maps, but FGS clarified for us that the new content was actually added in the patch released last week, and it is activated simply by connecting to an updated server. Some new screenshots show off the new locations in the add-on, as does a new trailer. The updated dedicated server can be acquired through Steam or the Shattered Horizon Website, and details on the four new maps follow. Continue here to read the full story.
Wargaming.net announcesWorld of Tanks, a subscription-free MMORPG centered around armored combat slated for launch this fall. Here are some World of Tanks screenshots and a World of Tanks "Debut" trailer demonstrating the game's planned assault on fantasy-themed games. World of Tanks will include more than 150 American, German, and Soviet armored fighting vehicles from the pre-WW2 era up to the Korean War. Word is: "The game offers fast random battles featuring various modes, historic mini-campaigns, tourneys and epic Clan Wars on a global map, where mighty clans fight for hundreds of provinces employing grand strategy, diplomacy and economic power. Besides individual tank-ace skills, WORLD OF TANKS requires team work and a fine balance between light and heavy armor. WORLD OF TANKS gives you thousands of ways of building your Steel Empire and manifesting the indisputable authority of TANK POWER!" The HD version of the debut trailer follows. Continue here to read the full story.
Codemasters Studios announces they're undertaking an "aggressive" recruitment program focused on their Guildford studio, saying they will use the additional manpower to build another development team and create new IPs. "Codemasters' multi-site studio network has seen a significant rise in headcount to over 450 people and growth at the Guildford Studio is key to our overall development strategy," said Gavin Cheshire, Vice President, Codemasters development. "With Stuart Black’s new shooter in production, deployment of EGO and key development figures heading up a highly skilled team, our Guildford facility offers great potential for development talent based in the South East who want to join a growing studio and work on original titles for our future portfolio. This current hiring phase is just the beginning as we look to build a further full team and create additional original IP on site."
Gala Networks Europe announces that open beta testing is now underway for Allods Online in Europe, offering access to this subscription-free MMOG. Various perks are available during the beta, including the ability to re-use character and guild names from closed beta testing and rewards for all active closed beta test accounts. "Allods Online is an amazing MMORPG with unique game features that will open a new era in the F2P market," says Hyun Hur, CEO Gala Networks Europe. "After a long time of Closed Beta testing and polishing the game in cooperation with the developer Astrum Nival, we’re glad to open the game to all players today, for our Open Beta. Players can now enjoy the variety of classes, quests, monsters and combat. PvE, PvP or even Ship vs. Ship battles on land and in the Astral space make Allods Online one of the most expected games in 2010."
The World of Warcraft Forums have word from Blizzard that they are not renewing the World of Warcraft: The Trading Card Game license with Upper Deck. Word is: "As some of you may already be aware, we will not be renewing the World of Warcraft: The Trading Card Game license with Upper Deck. We want to assure you that we are committed to supporting the TCG, and players can look forward to new content and strong organized play support in the near future. We will share additional details about the game’s transition to a new partner as soon as possible. For those awaiting tournament prizes, we will ensure you receive them." Thanks Ant via IncGamers.
The GAME British Academy announces nominees for this year's GAME British Academy Video Games Awards, which will be handed out on Friday 19 March at the London Hilton on Park Lane in an event that will be streamed live on www.bafta.org and www.baftagameaward.com. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves leads the way with nine BAFTA nominations, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has eight nominations, Batman: Arkham Asylum has seven, and Assassin's Creed II picked up six nominations; the full list of nominees can be found on The BAFTA site. There is also a category open to public voting from a shortlist "compiled by a panel of gaming journalists and enthusiasts." Games up for this award are Assassin’s Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Beatles: Rock Band, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, FIFA 10, GTA China Town Wars, Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks, Street Fighter IV, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Wii Sports Resort. Voting for these is being conducted through www.baftagameaward.com.
GOG.com's "month of Activision" rolls on with the addition of a DRM-free version of Caesar 3. They also announce they will soon be adding Interstate '76 Arsenal, the beloved alternate-history automotive combat game. The Arsenal edition includes both the original Interstate '76 and the Nitro Pack expansion. And remember, never get out of the car.
Mod DB has the first beta release for the WWI Source modification that uses the Half-Life 2 engine to recreate the battlefields of World War I. They say: "Use authentic weaponry to conquer the enemy, call in artillery strikes to take out enemies en masse, or use chemical warfare to disable your opponents!" Thanks Ant via Half-Life Fallout.
IncGamers - MMO Weekly: Bored With The Genre? As we talked, David and I both shared our overall tepid attitude toward the entire genre lately. He indicated that he still plays WoW occasionally, but it's not thrilling. On top of that, there are no upcoming MMO titles that actually interest him.
It was weird, but I found that he was echoing something I'd been feeling for a while, too.
Thanks to Cutter for pointing out I failed to wish everybody a happy Chinese New Year, as the occasion kicked off on the 14th along with Valentine's Day. Luckily, there's still a window for this, as the celebration runs for two weeks. It turns out it is now the Year of the Tiger, but I'm sure I'll be writing Year of the Ox on my checks for the next few weeks.
I know, it never gets old. Anachronistic running gags aside, it also turns out today is the 32nd anniversary of the first BBS, according to Boing Boing (thanks Ant). Here's an appropriate link for celebrating that one.