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Thursday, May 27, 2010

  

Monte Cristo Closes

Simtropolis reports the closure of Cities XL developer Monte Cristo (thanks Big Download). They explain that this should not impact Cities XL, as the authentication servers for the urban planning sim are still online, and an unnamed publisher will soon reveal they have taken over the project:

A publisher has shown up who will pick up Cities XL’s license, and who will continue to sell the game. This company will surely make itself known soon. We are confident that we leave Cities XL in good hands.

Current players shouldn’t be worried though! The solo game will keep on working and the online login system, mandatory to launch the game, remains in place. There is no change there. The Cities XL website also remains online, although obviously the online support is now longer available and we apologize for this.

One last time all the Monte Cristo team members would like to wholeheartedly thank the Cities XL players and community members who so dedicatedly took part in the life and evolution of this wonderful project.

Avadon: The Black Fortress Announced

Spiderweb Software announces Avadon: The Black Fortress, an all-new role-playing game unrelated to either the Geneforge or the Avernum series due for release on early 2011 for Windows and Macintosh. A product section for the game is already available, offering info and screenshots. Here's a bit: "You are a spy and warrior who must fight the enemies of your homeland. As a servant of the Black Fortress, your word is law. Gain power and influence, experience an exciting adventure, and battle a conspiracy to destroy your people."

World of Battles Launches

Focus Home Interactive announces the official launch of World of Battles, their free MMORTS. The World of Battles Website has details and a new trailer, as well as downloads of the full game client. Word is:

Nine races fight a terrible combat in a medieval universe to control the world. Choose your side, recruit, train and equip units in order to create a powerful army able to face online opposing armies created by other players.

Take part in huge battles in order to establish yourself as a the supreme War Lord and progress in the online World of Battles' rankings. Players will be free to connect for quick play or to participate in one of the many official competitions of World of Battles.

NFS World in July

EA announces launch plans for Need for Speed World, saying the MMO racing game will go live on July 20, 2010 with a free client. The announcement gives a general sense of how this game is to be monetized, saying:

Beginning July 20th, Need for Speed World will be available as a free client download at world.needforspeed.com. The free client gives gamers a taste of the action with access to all races, pursuits and career progression up to level 10.

Players looking for the ultimate experience can purchase the Need for Speed World Starter Pack which includes a credit for $20 worth of SpeedBoost, full access up to level 50, a bundle assortment of power-ups like Nitrous and Traffic Magnet to help you get started, and an exclusive limited edition vehicle – all for MSRP $20*. Owners of the Starter Pack also get the added benefit of being able to purchase items like power-ups, double XP periods and even rental cars starting at just a few cents.

Players who pre-order Need for Speed World will have a one-week headstart to the game on July 13th, with increased Rep (XP) gain for the duration of the headstart event and guaranteed access to all upcoming Need for Speed World beta events. Finally, players will also be able to reserve their driver names in advance of the game going live and have VIP status permanently displayed in their driver profile. Pre-orders are available now at eastore.ea.com or at participating digital retailers nationwide.

Land of Chaos Online Closed Beta

Closed beta testing of Land of Chaos Online is now underway, offering the chance to sample this MMOG that combines RTS, action, and RPG elements. Word is: "burda:ic, a leading publisher of online games worldwide, today announced the launch of the highly anticipated LOCO – Land of Chaos Online Closed Beta Test. For the first time, players can now explore the Land of Chaos as they take on the role of one of 12 characters featured in the CBT, including Octavian, Atin, Foxlady, RandyRozz, and more."

Mac League of Legends Planned

Riot Games and TransGaming announce plans to launch a Macintosh edition of League of Legends in October of this year. Word is: "The new Mac version of the online multiplayer strategy game, powered by TransGaming’s Cider Portability Engine, will bring millions of Mac owners the same fast-paced gaming action that more than one million PC gamers have enjoyed since the game launched in October 2009."

Namco Bandai Likes Ubi's DRM

Computer and Video Games quotes Namco Bandai Partners VP Olivier Comte on the topic of digital rights management, saying until an alternative arrives, Ubisoft's method, which requires a constant internet connection, is the way to go. That said, he does not comment to following suit: "We are analysing all of the situations. We have seen what Ubi and EA are doing, we've seen what Sony have announced for PS3 and it's clear that we need to make some choices." Adding further confusion to the matter, he doesn't seem to believe any method will actually work, bringing the point of the whole endeavor into question: "I'm convinced that whatever system you put in place you can be sure that two hours before putting it out it'll be cracked in Russia. I think that the combat against piracy is very complicated because it's very complicated to explain to a 12-year-old that drag and dropping a file on a PC is piracy - he was born with this." Thanks joao.

Team Fortress 2 Patched

Steam News announces the automatic availability of a new patch to update Team Fortress 2 along with Day of Defeat: Source and the Counter-Strike: Source Beta. The list of major changes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Portal and Half-Life 2 Patched

Steam announces not one, but two new automatic patches are now available for Portal, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. The combined patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Shattered Horizon Patched

Also on Steam News is word of a new automatic update for Shattered Horizon, the multiplayer first-person shooter from Futuremark Game Studio. The update adds performance optimizations, changes the winning conditions for Assault mode, adds new server commands, and kicks off new weekly leaderboards.

Killing Floor Patched

A Killing Floor update rounds out the batch of new automatic patches on Steam. The new version of Tripwire Interactive's co-op zombie game adds some Mac fixes, which follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Two Worlds II Debut Trailer

The Two Worlds II debut trailer offers the first look at Topware's upcoming RPG sequel. The clip features gameplay and cinematics depicting a good deal of hacking, not to mention slashing. The embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

On Sale

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Elite Echelon Edition on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Chaos Rising on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Gold Edition on Steam. Save 50%.

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

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Iron Baby.

Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage Demo

A playable demo is now available for Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage, the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror sequel from Zoetrope that's due for release tomorrow. Downloads of the 265 MB demo can be found on AtomicGamer, ComputerGames.ro, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, Strategy Informer, and WorthPlaying.

New Eschalon: Book II Demo

Basilisk Games now offers new versions 1.03 of Eschalon: Book II for Windows Mac, and Linux, updating their recently released role-playing sequel. The full version of the game also includes a demo area, and the ability to unlock the whole shebang with a game key.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Trailer

This cinematic trailer highlights some of the goings on in year four of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. The clip concludes with a pointer to www.magicisbuilding.com and the password "lord voldemort", which can be used to access behind-the-scenes trailers and more in the VIP area of the site. The year four trailer is embedded here. Continue here to read the full story.

Singularity Trailer

A new Singularity trailer shows off another function of the Time Manipulation Device, the mysterious and powerful device (and its mystery is exceeded only by its power) in Singularity, Raven's upcoming time-sensitive first-person shooter. The new power is called impulse, which can stun humans, cause an unspecified "different kind of subject" to shift in and out of phase, and can make smaller opponents blow up real good. The clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Mafia II PhysX Trailer

This Mafia II trailer shows off the PhysX effects that can be experienced by owners of NVIDIA graphics cards in the upcoming life-of-crime sequel. About a million bullets miss their targets in the clip, which shows what happens when you shoot up walls, windows, and cars in the game. The embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Guild Wars Wields the Ban-Sickle

A post on the ArenaNet Blog written by Guild Wars Design Director James Phinney discusses bans in their online RPG, saying they have terminated more than 2700 accounts "for botting and match manipulation." He goes into detail on the increased frequency of these attempts to manipulate the game, and the measures they are implementing to address them. There's also a trailer on the YouTube (thanks Mike Martinez via Kotaku) showing how these bans are handed down through the sickle of Dhuum, the game's erstwhile god of death.

Stolen Gaming Credentials

The Symantec Connect Blog has details on Symantec's discovery of the credentials of 44 million stolen online gaming accounts, saying that the accounts were being validated by an automated program to determine which of these could be sold. They say: "This particular database server we uncovered seems very much to be the heart of the operation—part of a distributed password checker aimed at Chinese gaming websites." They say there are credentials for at least 18 gaming websites in the database, an inventory including about 210,000 World of Warcraft accounts, 60,000 Aion accounts, 2 million PlayNC accounts, and 16 million Wayi Entertainment accounts. Regardless of whether Chinese sites were the target, they conclude with this advice: "As always, Symantec recommends that you keep your definitions up to date in order to ensure protection against new threats. As an added precaution, if you are in possession of a gaming account from one of the websites listed above, an update of your password would not go amiss." Thanks Network World.

Sledgehammer's CoD FPS?

Some job listings on Gamasutra noticed by Eurogamer offer indications that the upcoming Call of Duty game in the works at Slegehammer is a first-person shooter, in spite of previous indications that this would be more of an action/adventure installment in the military shooter series. Their overview for their help wanted ads has this straightforward sentence: "Sledgehammer Games is actively recruiting top industry talent to join the Call of Duty FPS development team."

Men of War: Assault Squad Announced

1C Company announces Men of War: Assault Squad, calling this both a standalone expansion and a sequel for Men of War, the World War II real-time tactics/action game from Best Way. Assault Squad will add an all-new cooperative "skirmish" mode, and adds the nation of Japan for the first time in the series. Here's a bit:

Men of War: Assault Squad takes place across the globe during the height of World War II and features five different armies each with their own unique units, vehicles and abilities. The game also features the unique "direct control" feature which enables players to maneuver units using the directional keys, rather than pointing and clicking. PC Generals can get behind the controls of a tank to smash through obstacles, crush soldiers under its tracks and fire armor-piercing shells at enemy emplacements, or take control of individual soldiers as they fight. More information about the game can be found at www.menowargame.com

StarCraft II Regions Divided

IncGamers has a confirmation of indications that StarCraft II players will not be able to play against gamers in other regions, when the RTS sequel is released this summer. "It'll be structured very similarly to World of Warcraft, where you've got the European region and players matched against the other players within their region," Blizzard's Frank Pearce told them. Pearce did explain it should be possible to work around this: "if you're a European player and you've got friends that are in another region that you want to be able to connect with, we definitely want to support that," although "it might mean that you have to access it through the US client." There's also an article on this on GXBlog, where Mark Yu suggests that two versions of the game may be required to play between North America and Asia: "Yes, when it releases on day one, if you want to connect with your friends in the US, get the US box or if you want to play with Koreans, then get the Korean box. However if you want to get the best experience out of your game here in South East Asia, you should get the local boxset. The latency, the community, those are the things are going to really define the experience, and you don't want to miss out on that."

Gamers & Lucid Dreams

LiveScience quotes studies suggesting video gamers, like Franz Ferdinand, have a predilection for lucid dreams, saying this might "provide an edge when fighting nightmares or even mental trauma," though one researcher cautions "the findings represent suggestive associations rather than definitive proof." That said, they are also exploring the implications this has on PTSD sufferers: "The gamer dream experience of high aggression levels matched with little or no fear inspired Gackenbach to pursue a new study with Athabasca University in Canada. If gaming can act as a semi-protective function against nightmares, she reasoned, maybe it could help war veterans who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after enduring combat." Thanks Joker961 via Slashdot.

Op Ed

Ars Technica - Game reviews on Metacritic- why we avoid inclusion. Thanks Mike Martinez.
Here's where things get slightly crazy. The score that GameShark gave the game in the review, according to the podcast, was a B+. That, according to Metacritic, does not equal an 85 percent. Take a look at the FAQ from Metacritic: it breaks down how scores given by review outlets are interpreted. Giving a game a B+ may seem like a good score, but Metacritic actually takes that to mean you gave the game an 83. An A- would have been necessary to equal the 85 percent. If you're willing to up your score to what Metacritic considers an 85, then the company is willing to let you release your review earlier.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

We had a tree guy over for an estimate on cutting down a mulberry tree in our yard because it is in the process of wrecking our neighbor's stone wall and fence. While we were looking at it, MrsBlue surprised me by asking about the gigantic maple next to it, pointing out it was missing bark all up one side of its trunk. Once I saw what she was talking about, it was no surprise that he said this monster was in danger of coming down, and should probably be felled. We're unhappy about this on a number of levels: The loss of the beautiful trees, the loss of the home of more than one bird's nest, and the loss of privacy from our neighbors' yard. We are also quite concerned that this is going to harm our naturally cool house, as this tree blocks a significant amount of sunlight all day, which combines with our brick walls and relatively high ceilings to allow us to get by with no air conditioning except in my penthouse (converted attic) office, something that came immediately to mind since it was about a thousand degrees yesterday. We'll just have to see how this turns out, since we can't risk this tree actually falling, as it could completely obliterate our neighbor's house if it did.

Felled Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Human Centipede. Thanks Dark Horizons.
1066.
Links: The 15 Most Annoying Levels In Video Game History.
Movies by the Numbers: From Zero to 1 Million.
15 Grossly Misleading Movie Posters. Thanks Joker961.
Stories: Odds are about 1-in-3 that mega-earthquake will hit Pacific Northwest in next 50 years.
34 projects where you'll see your favorite Lost stars next. Thanks Digg.
Science: A Pattern of Sibling Risk-Taking in the Major Leagues. Thanks j.c.f.
Moderate Drinking May Protect Brain From Alzheimer's.
Rheumatoid arthritis 'on the rise in women'.
Images: Left 4 Dead Cake is Horrifically Delicious.
Closest He Is Getting To The Real Thing.
This Computer Is In Critical Condition.
Media: Dog Surprises Officer After Being Freed From a Fence. Awesome.
The Beggin Strip Recursion.
My Desk Is 8-Bit.
Will Ferrell's Career As Minor-League Pitcher Lasts 4 Min.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Fredo and Pidjin - High Tech Sniper.
Dilbert.
Follow-up: Atlantis returns from final space mission.
Offshore oil vs. offshore wind ... who wins?



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