Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announcesBatman: Arkham City, a sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum that's expected in fall 2011 for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The preliminary Batman: Arkham City Website is online at one of the 15 recently registered domains related to this franchise, offering a contest promoting the game and a teaser trailer revealing the sequel will feature the same antagonists as the original. The trailer also concludes with a link to Arkhamhasmoved.com which has the same content, and a non-working link to preorder the game. Here's word on the game: "Developed by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City, the new maximum security “home” for all of Gotham City’s thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight."
The Torchlight 2 Website is live, announcing Runic Games is at work on a sequel to their well-received action/RPG for release in spring 2011. They also show the way to a PC Gamer exclusive first look at Torchlight 2 Artwork and a Torchlight 2 interview with Runic Games on PC Gamer discussing the game with Max Schaefer and Travis Baldree. Word on the game is: "Torchlight II is richly textured with our unique art style, drawing from traditional animation influences and expanding on the whimsical and quirky world captured in the original Torchlight. We aim for that broad appeal that’s appropriate for older kids, but is really intended for the kid in every adult." The announcement reveals the sequel adds cooperative multiplayer support to the mix:
The most exciting new feature of Torchlight II is the multiplayer element. Play with your friends, and use the free peer-to-peer matchmaking service to meet new players of a similar level and interest. Together players will discover expansive randomized outdoor areas and deep ominous caverns; random instanced and persistent dungeons, a huge variety of all new monsters and villains, endless variations of loot to find, and quests to complete. Players journey through the perilous Overworld, enjoying all new weather features, time of day events, and a rich and cunning story to drive gameplay.
2K Games announcesMinerva's Den, upcoming downloadable content for BioShock 2 they say will be the final piece of DLC for the underwater shooter sequel when it is released this fall. The DLC will require the original game, but they say it will offer "a self-contained narrative experience that puts players in the role of an all-new character who has teamed up with Brigid Tenenbaum to unravel a dictator’s stranglehold on a key district in the distinctive city under the sea." Here's a bit more:
Prepare to explore Rapture Central Computing, a never-before-seen district of the undersea city, and uncover the dark secrets hidden in its founder's past. Wield new high-tech weaponry and a devastating new Plasmid to best the towering threats in Minerva's Den: more dangerous Splicers that command the power of the elements, upgraded Security Bots that throw rockets and lightning bolts, and even a never-before-seen type of Big Daddy. Developed by 2K Marin, Minerva's Den offers new twists on the story-driven experience that drew players into BioShock 2 when it launched earlier this year.
Slitherine announces that Battlefield Academy is now available via digital distribution, offering turn-based strategy that "aims to revolutionise the strategy games market with a blend of intuitive design and compelling game play driven by cutting edge technical innovation." The game is completely script-driven, which will allow the easy creation of custom missions, and it features a "revolutionary" server-based play by email system. Word is: "Inspired by an original online game concept devised by the BBC, the game has more than 30 battles in a range of theatres of war from the North African desert through D-Day to the to the [sic] snowy Ardennes mountains where the Allies battled to repel the final German offensive."
A Fuel Overdose Website is live, revealing development of this upcoming action racing game with a teaser trailer and some screenshots. The game is planned for digital distribution by developer I-FRIQIYA, a recently founded game company based in Tokyo and Dubai. There's also a Fuel Overdose Blog where the game's development can be tracked.
NVIDIA's nZone has details on the availability of a trial version of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty with select graphics cards. Here's word on the sample of Blizzard's RTS sequel: "For a limited time only, buy any qualifying NVIDIA® GeForce® graphics card and get a key code for a free trial of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, good for 7 hours of game time or 14 days from activation (whichever comes first)." Thanks Big Download.
Time Warner posts rise in 2Q earnings, boosts view has financial results for the media giant, with earnings topping Wall Street estimates and the company raising their forecast for the full year. Word is: "Overall, Time Warner reported net income of $562 million, or 49 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30. That's up from $524 million, or 43 cents, a year ago. Removing one-time items, earnings came to 50 cents per share, while analysts expected 45 cents, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue climbed 8 percent to $6.38 billion, the biggest increase in two years. Analysts expected revenue of $6.2 billion." MCV has the gaming perspective on this, saying they've been building profits with LEGO bricks: "Video games revenues were increased thanks on the whole to strong sales of LEGO Harry Potter: Years1-4, which has shipped over 2.7m units. Older release LEGO Batman has now sold over 7m units since its arrival in 2008."
MCV has Namco Bandai's fiscal reporting for the quarter ending June 30, saying revenues are up and losses are down in the gaming sector: "Sales at Namco Bandai’s Content division, which includes its video games operations, jumped from YEN 20,210m to YEN 32,948m. Losses at the Content division dropped from YEN 4,136m to YEN 619m." Obviously the PC element in this is fairly nonexistent, but it's interesting to see the PS2 beating more current platforms, as they say: "PS3 was its most lucrative platform with 696k unit sales. This was followed by DS (636k) and Xbox 360 (581k). Amazingly, the PS2 (474k) bettered the Wii (423k) and the PSP (343k)."
A new patch for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is now available automatically through Steam. The new version adds Free for All and Team Free for All game modes, bug fixes, and a very long list of balance changes.
A new patch for Close Combat – Last Stand Arnhem is now available from Matrix Games to update this World War II tactical combat game to version 5.60.01. The patch is available on this page, and here's the teensy snippet explaining its purpose: "The update has a few big fixes, map tweaks, AI improvements, and some logic changes."
The StarCraft II interview on PlayworksOnline talks with Brian Kindregan, with lead writer on Blizzard's RTS sequel. Topics are the inspiration for the game's story, his influence on the project, challenges in appeal to both vets and new players, zombie references, and more, including whether he's be interested in penning a StarCraft movie: "Sure! If someone offered me the chance. However I know of no plans about a StarCraft movie."
Gamasutra - In-Depth- No Female Heroes At Activision? Look to that methodology to explain why all of Activision's flagship properties are male-led, says the source: "If Activision does not see a female lead in the top five games that year, they will not have a female lead," says the other source. "And the people that don't want a female lead will look at games like Wet and Bayonetta and use them as 'statistics' to 'prove' that female leads don't move mass units."
BitMob - The Fall of Pixel Art and the Demise of Memorable Character Design. It is possible, of course, for nostalgia to cloud objectivity. It is also all too easy to find yourself lamenting the fact that everything from Curly Wurlys to cartoons are not as good as they used to be, but it is difficult to imagine Blinx being fondly remembered in 30 years time. Ape Escape’s Specter and associated primates were examples of great design, but what of the rather forgettable hero, Spike? Even Uncharted's Nathan Drake, stripped of Nolan North's memorable performance, is surprisingly generic. Design today often focuses on technology, rather than appeal. Covering a charmless character model in physics-enabled trinkets or clever cloth dynamics is simply lipstick on the face of a gorilla, and no amount of superficial decoration can make up for an inherent lack of personality.
We laid my dad to rest yesterday, it was a quiet funeral, and he is how buried with a lot of our ancestors in Green-Wood Cemetery, right in the heart of his beloved Brooklyn. The gathering of family also gave my brother and me the chance to reconnect with an uncle, aunt, and, cousins who we haven't seen in years, and we've resolved to better stay in touch, which is an uplifting side-effect of the somber occasion.
This all resulted in a lack of updates after the morning, and this is likely what will happen today as well, but I expect to be fully back on track as of tomorrow.