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Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

  

StarCraft II Demo

The StarCraft II Website now offers Windows and OS X playable demos for Blizzard's real-time strategy sequel. Word is: "If you haven’t yet experienced the intense strategic combat of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, you can get into the action today with the newly released demo edition. Featuring full access to the first three missions of the single-player campaign, as well as unlimited access to skirmish mode as the terrans versus an A.I. opponent, the free demo gives you an introduction to the cinematic storytelling and fast-paced gameplay of StarCraft II."

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 Patches

A new patch is now available for Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 to update the association football/soccer sequel to version 1.03. The new version is available automatically over the internet from within the game, and manual patches are also available, with a patch for the disc-based game on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying; while a patch for the digitally distributed version is available on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying. The patch notes on the Konami Website list one single change: "Online Mode connectivity issues have been improved through changes made to the disconnection process."

Jon Shafer Leaves Firaxis

Flash of Steel reports that Civilization V lead designer Jon Shafer has departed Firaxis, confirming indications of the change found in Shafer's LinkedIn profile. They have a comment from Jon, who says: "I very much enjoyed my time Firaxis, worked on many projects that I’ve very proud of and got to know a lot of amazing people. I’m appreciative of the opportunities provided by Firaxis and 2K, and hope to see (and play) more great games from them in the future." They also have a response to the news from Firaxis: "We are grateful for Jon’s contributions to Firaxis and the Civilization franchise and wish him all the best in the future." Thanks Joao via Gamasutra.

Quote of the Day

"Having said that, I think for a period of time - two, three, or four years - these things can be out of sync, where you’ve pissed off your user, but you’re still really profitable, so you’re serving your shareholder. Without being too directly negative about a particular competitor, I would say that what often happens is a scenario where you’ve lost your customer, so you lean on your employee to do evermore impossible things which generates profitability for two or three years where you sort of live off past success. The reason I know what this looks like is we’ve been through it, but I think in the end, abusing your customer, followed by abusing your employee, usually leads to ruin and it usually leads to abusing your investor." -- EA CEO John Riccitiello.

On Sale

Holiday Gift Guide 2010 week 4 on GamersGate has dozens of titles on sale along with a buy four, pay for three promotion. There are more than 1000 titles on sale in the Steam Holiday Sale. Direct2Drive has three different coupon codes, offering up to 25% off, depending on how much you spend. Virtually the entire catalogue of DRM-free good old games at GOG.com is on sale for up to 50% off through the new year, and they are giving away Tyrian 2000 for free. The Humble Indie Bundle #2 offers the chance to pay what you want for a bundle of Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans, once again allowing you to give some of your contribution to charity. Two or more eligible games on the EA Store are 50% off. There are a bunch of strategy games on sale on Matrix Games.

  • Aion: Assault on Balaurea on Steam. Save 75%.
  • BioShock 2 on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Blur on Direct2Drive. Save 50%.
  • Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Defense Grid: The Awakening on Steam. Save 80%.
  • Disciples III - Renaissance Steam Special Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Gothic Bundle on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light on Steam. Save 66%.
  • Mahjong Wisdom on Games For Windows. Save 75%.
  • Men of War: Gold Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Natural Selection 2 on the Official Website. Buy one, get one free.
  • PuzzleQuest: Challenge of the Warlords on Steam. Save 85%.
  • Resident Evil 5 on Steam. Save 66%.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People on Telltale Games. Save 75%.
  • The Polynomial - Space of the music on Steam. Save 75%.
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut on Steam. Save 75%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Legal Briefs

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Comic Book Heroes Unmasked. 90 minute documentary hearing from Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and more. Thanks Ant.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Sells $1 Billion

Activision announces that Call of Duty: Black Ops has passed the $1 billion sales mark since the launch of the military shooter in November, according to their internal estimates, saying the only other entertainment product to achieve this milestone so quickly was the Avatar movie. They also announce Black Ops broke the five day multimedia sales record they invented for its predecessor: "In its first five days alone, the game sold more than $650 million worldwide, outpacing theatrical box office, book and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell through in dollars, according to internal Activision estimates and boxofficemojo.com. The game exceeded Activision's previous five-day worldwide record of $550 million set by last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 2." The latest Call of Duty game was already identified by the NPD as the seventh bestselling game in history for one month.

Operation Flashpoint: Red River Trailer

A new Operation Flashpoint: Red River trailer offers gameplay from Codemasters' upcoming military shooter sequel in a clip that profiles Staff Sergeant Damian Knox, one of the game's characters. Word is: "The trailer demonstrates some of the wide range of combat scenarios which players will encounter in the game’s diverse new battlefield of Tajikistan, with Knox’s narration detailing his personal take on the conflict. From defending bases to sweeping through mountains, villages and towns to flush out entrenched enemies, Knox and his Marine Fireteams are shown engaging insurgents at range and close-quarters, supported by ground and air support. In an awesome display of power, A10 bombers are shown obliterating an insurgent stronghold with a strafing bombing run before the marines sweep in." The embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

DC Universe Online Next Month

DC Universe Online will launch in North America for PC and PlayStation 3 on January 11, 2011, reports IGN, who say that the UK launch for the superhero MMORPG will follow on January 14. They offer a list of the game's PS3 trophies, and an interview with Game Director Chris Cao discussing the date, subscription fees, lessons learned from the beta, tips for new players, and more.

The Sims Medieval Limited Edition

EA announces they are accepting preorders for a "special Limited Edition" of The Sims Medieval, the new installment in the lifestyle simulation that's due in spring 2011. Preorders are being accepted through this page, and the advance commitment will get some extra content for the same price as the regular version of the game. There is a timer counting down the 91 days until the preorder offer ends to instill you with the proper sense of urgency over this.

Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom

Gamasutra has word that a group of former shareholders of developer Harmonix (Rock Band) filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court last week against parent company Viacom accusing them of attempts to get out of paying performance-based bonuses. The suit accuses Viacom, who are looking to sell Harmonix, of manipulating distribution costs to reduce bonus payouts. Word is they: "decided to forego the opportunity to reduce EA’s distribution fees during 2008 (or in any other way enhance Harmonix’s net income or Gross Profit for 2008), and instead demanded benefits for itself (rather than Harmonix) in exchange for allowing EA to continue distributing Rock Band." The suit goes on to say: "Although a reduced 2008 EA distribution fee would have increased Harmonix's gross profit and operating profits in 2008, Viacom realized that every $1.00 of distribution fees that Harmonix saved during 2008 would require Viacom to pay an additional $3.50 of earn-outs to the [ex-shareholders]."

Ex-Rockstar Dev Speaks Out?

Eurogamer.net has details from a now-removed blog post (still cached) written by Zero Dean, apparently a former Rockstar employee who allegedly served as Senior Environment Artist on Red Dead Redemption. The blog described how pressure on the developers from management amplified as the project progressed, with unpaid overtime steadily increasing, leading to him catching flack from above after commenting on the situation in email that turned out to have been monitored. He says he eventually left when a boss took credit for some of his work. "And thank you Rockstar," he wrote. "You taught me exactly how I don't want to run a business or treat employees (or human beings) ever." Thanks Joao.

Ships Ahoy - Operation Blitzkrieg France

Matrix Games announces the release of Operation Blitzkrieg France, a new add-on for Battlefield Academy that puts players in control of German forces advancing on Paris during World War II. Word is: "With 25 new units & 28 modified units with new camouflage, 9 single player missions, 4 multiplayer missions and a host of new upgrades and bonuses, Blitzkrieg France is a perfect addition to the award winning wargame of the year."

Sword of the Stars II Developer Diary

The Sword of the Stars II Developer Diary #1 is titled "Re-Inventing the Future," as it looks at Kerberos Productions' upcoming 4X space strategy sequel. The diary addresses the challenges they face in finding ways to improve upon the success of the first game, rather than just remaking it.

Darkstar Interview

The J. Allen Williams Interview on Adventure Classic Gaming talks with the founder of Parallax Studio about Darkstar, the independently developed game that was originally conceived as a feature film. They discuss the game's cinematic roots, the participation of the entire original cast of MST3K, live action filming, the game's lengthy development cycle, and more.

Alganon Interview

Derek Smart is interviewed on Onrpg.com talking more about Alganon, Quest Online's MMORPG. They discuss how the game's doing, what he is most proud of, social networking, more on the game's up-and-down history, and more.

Op Ed

SignOnSanDiego.com - Parents should be able to control what kids watch. By Sen. Leland Y. Yee.
I am hopeful that a majority of justices will agree that parents – not retailers or game makers – should determine which video games are appropriate for kids. A ruling in favor California’s law will not only ensure that parents make such decisions, but will help protect our children in the years to come.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam on GameSpot.

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Happy solstice, as today is the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of summer (such as it is) in the southern. This converged with the lunar eclipse in the wee hours of this morning, but not to worry if you missed it, since you'll be able to catch another eclipse/solstice combination in 2094. Maybe this double event (not to mention the Ursids meteor shower) is to blame for my flaky computer, as I found my machine in the middle of a continuous stream of reboots this morning, and it even spontaneously shut down from safe mode. It seems to be fine now, but it only worked after a 15 minute time out.

R.I.P.: 'Barney Miller' star Steve Landesberg dies. Thanks scorcese.fan.

Lunar Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Garden Gnome Carnage.
Effective Attack.
Frontline Defense 2.
Links: Videogame Characters Invade Real Facebook.
Apollo 18 Finds Aliens in ‘Lost’ NASA Footage. Thanks Paul.
Stories: Gimme Shell-ter! Chinese Man Evicted From Giant Egg.
Science: 'Brown Fat' Injections: New Hope For The Obesity Epidemic?
Images: APOD- 2010 December 21 - Tyrrhenian Sea and Solstice Sky. Thanks brother19.
Media: 8 Epic Fan-made Videogame Movie Trailers.
R2-D2 Tortoise and Yoda Dog.



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