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Monday, Jan 03, 2011

  

Final Fantasy Type-0 Domains

Siliconera follows up on their report on a new trademark registration filed by Square Enix for Final Fantasy Type-0. They now note that Square Enix has also registered a couple of related domains, finalfantasytype0.com and finalfantasytype-0.com. There's still no official announcement about what this all means. Stay tuned.

Team Fortress 2 Item Testing System Beta

The Team Fortress 2 Blog has news for community item contributors, saying a beta version of their item testing system is now live. There is some preliminary documentation of the system on the Official TF2 Wiki. Word is: "This is an early release of this system, and we have plans to improve upon it in significant ways. We released it now because it's still a significant step above the existing hacks that contributors had to use, and we're hoping that this early glimpse will allow contributors to give us some feedback on it. So, if you're working on item contributions, please take a shot at using it, and let us know what you think."

New Steam Hardware & Software Survey

A new December edition of the Steam Hardware & Software Survey is now available, adding Macintosh data to this look at the systems owned by Steam users. Some PC tidbits include how Windows 7 64-bit is now up to 35%, over 60% of users are now at DirectX 10 or DirectX 11, and 4GB of RAM is up to 27%. The graphics card breakdown is now 59% NVIDIA and 33% AMD, and CPU distribution is 72% Intel versus 28% AMD.

The Future of Simulations

The Future of Simulations on SimHQ is a year-end roundtable discussion of the simulation genre among several prominent sim developers. Participants are XSI's Babak Nobary and Julian "Buckshot" Leonard, Thunder Works' Dante De Patta, 777 Studios' Jason Williams, OBD Software's Mark "Polovski" Rogers, eSim Games' Nils "Ssnake" Hinrichsen, Maddox Games' Oleg Maddox, Tricubic Studios' Richard "Flexman" Hawley, and Graviteam's Vladimir Zayarniy. The six major topics covered are Consumer Simulations, Software Development, Controllers and Peripherals, Multiplayer, Distribution and Publishing, and Copy Protection and Intellectual Property.

New Chocolate Doom

A new version 1.5.0 of Chocolate Doom is now available, offering an updated version of this source port that attempts to adhere as closely as possible to the original vanilla DOS DOOM. Word is: "This release improves the OPL MIDI emulation feature by importing the DBOPL emulator from DOSbox. Multiplayer servers now automatically register with an Internet master server, plus various bugs have been fixed and small improvements made." Thanks Ant.

Child's Play Tops $2.2M

The Child's Play Charity announces this year's fundraiser to send toys and games to sick kids is now at almost $2.3 million. This surpasses their goal for the year by over (Dr. Evil voice) $1 million! Thanks Gamasutra.

Evening Previews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Meteors and sun put on celestial double feature. Quadrantids overnight, solar eclipse tomorrow. Thanks Acleacius.

R.I.P.: 'Forbidden Planet' star Anne Francis dies at 80. Thanks The Advocate and Brian.

Natural Selection 2 HLDSUpdateTool Support

The Natural Selection 2 Website announces the beta version of the Natural Selection 2 dedicated server is now available through Valve's HLDSUpdateTool as well as Steam. They explain how to use this to set up a dedicated server for the beta version of the action/strategy sequel, and explain the advantages of using the HLDSUpdateTool: "While the NS2 dedicated server is included in the normal Steam install, the advantage of the HLDSUpdateTool is that it allows dedicated server operators to get the latest version of NS2 without requiring a Steam account. The dedicated server install is also smaller (443 MB versus 2.73 GB) than the full client install because the client specific files like texture maps have been removed. Setting up Natural Selection 2 with the HLDSUpdateTool is very simple. First you need to download the installer from Valve. If you're already using HLDSUpdateTool for other dedicated servers you don't need to install a separate copy."

RIFT Beta Resumes This Week

The RIFT Website has word on the next closed beta event for Trion Worlds' upcoming MMORPG, which will run from Friday, January 7 at 1:00 pm EST until Monday, January 10 at 1:00 pm EST. The testing will introduce the Warfronts of Telara and will offer the chance to win a new graphics card. Here's word: "As conflict grows increasingly brutal, the Warfronts of Telara call for champions to take arms and stain the earth with enemy blood. Will you join the Guardians and follow the will of the Vigil to salvation, or fight as a Defiant to usher in an age of techno-magical dominance? Play to win! Participate in any Warfront and you could be eligible to win an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 video card! Terms and conditions apply, click here for details." Thanks Massively.

PC Motion Controller

PrimeSense announces they are partnering with ASUS to "provide controller-free interaction experiences in the living room" for PCs, saying the WAVI Xtion will debut at this week's CES and be launched during Q2 of this year. Though PrimeSense supplies 3D sensing technology for Kinect for the Xbox 360, they do not mention games, saying: "The WAVI Xtion media center for the PC leverages ultra-wide band wireless link and PrimeSense 3D sensing solution to provide controller-free interaction experiences in the living room. Users can browse multimedia content, access the Internet and social networks, and enjoy full body interaction in a more user-friendly and natural living room experience." Here's word on developer support: "In addition to WAVI Xtion, ASUS also adopts PrimeSense solutions to introduce the world’s first PC-exclusive 3D sensing professional development solution, Xtion PRO, for software developers to easily create their own gesture-based applications and software. Xtion PRO is scheduled to be commercially available in February 2011. Developers will also have the chance to sell their applications on the upcoming Xtion online Store."

Independent Games Festival Finalists

The 13th Annual Independent Games Festival announces the finalists for the Main Competition at this year's Independent Games Festival Awards, which will be handed out on the evening of March 2. Here are the nominees for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize:

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games)
SpyParty (Chris Hecker)
Desktop Dungeons (QCF Design)
Minecraft (Mojang)
Nidhogg (Messhof)

Honorable mentions: Neptune's Pride (Iron Helmet Games); Super Crate Box (Vlambeer); Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (Carpe Fulgur); Bit.Trip Runner (Gaijin Games); Retro City Rampage (Vblank Entertainment).

DICE: PC Battlefield 3 Getting "Special Effort"

A tweet by David Goldfarb answers a question posed to DICE's lead designer on Battlefield 3 about whether their upcoming military shooter sequel will be a PC exclusive, harkening back to the old days when there were AAA shooters that were not released on consoles. David debunks this exclusivity rumor, but does say the PC edition is receiving "special effort," saying: "it will not be exclusive. We are putting special effort into the pc version, even for us, it's extraordinary."

Vaporware 2010

Wired.com's Vaporware 2010 is online with the 14th installment in their annual series calling out overdue tech projects. Since they have the Duke Nukem Forever to kick around again, they again "honor" the shooter four months to the day after it was reannounced, a decade after it first made their list, and six years after it earned their "Lifetime Achievement Award." Other games they list include L.A. Noire and our choice for #1, Half Life 2: Episode 3. They also once again pick on Black Mesa, as they seem to think singling out this in-development modification from a team of volunteers as vaporware is fair play, though we would disagree.

Bulletstorm Clip

The Bulletstorm Facebook Page now offers a new NSFW trailer called "Bulletpoints with Michael 'Mike' Caps, president of Epic Games," which looks like it literally kicks off a series based on Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. This offers a lighthearted, if heavy-footed insight into Mike's thought on playing Bulletstorm, the upcoming shooter from Epic's People Can Fly studio.

Final Mass Effect 2 DLC Announced

A screenshot on Kotaku shows an update from the Cerberus Network daily update in Mass Effect 2 revealing plans for one last round of DLC for the action/RPG before the release of Mass Effect 3 during the holiday season of this year. The update announces the Cerberus Network will cease daily updates on January 24, the first anniversary of the in-game news service, but that there will be three weeks of updates this year, saying: "A week of posts will precede a downloadable content release, and two more weeks will lead up to the release of Mass Effect 3."

FINAL FANTASY XIV Reboot Plans

A new FINAL FANTASY XIV producer's letter looks to the future of Square Enix's MMORPG (thanks Massively), which has has suffered numerous problems since its launch in September. Word is their keywords for the new year are "fun, live, reboot, and rebuild." Details on their reboot plans are not offered, but they are running a FINAL FANTASY XIV Player's Poll, and they offer a cryptic verse, introduced like this:

Well, I would be lying if I said I was writing only to wish you the best in the coming twelve moons. Truth be told, the realm is all aflutter just now— the air thick with anticipation and excitement. In fact, an ancient verse of prophecy was delivered to my person by a messenger from Eorzea not moments ago. But I’ve never been much of one for poems... Perhaps some of you will have more luck decoding it than I have.

Dead Space 2 Plasma Cutter Unlock

Joystiq has word on a tweet from Louis Gascoigne where the Visceral Games Redwood Shores Programmer points to a GameSpot Forum post saying that players with a Dead Space saved game will receive the Plasma Cutter at the beginning of Dead Space 2. The forum post states you need to have saved a complete game, but the tweet clarifies that any save will do.

Activision Threatens UK Over Tax Breaks

Britain's plans to end tax relief for game development are "a terrible mistake," said Bobby Kotick in the UK's Sunday Telegraph, reports TechZone360, with the Activision CEO going on to subtly threaten: "There are so many other places that are encouraging the video games industry." They also quote Richard Wilson, chief executive of UK trade group TIGA on the subject of developer tax relief. "For too long, the coalition Government has acted like a one-club golfer. It has had a strategy for reducing the deficit but little to say about growth," said Wilson. "The video game sector offers opportunities for growth and high value, high technology job creation for the UK."

Recettear Sells 100K, Worldwide Chantelise Announced

Der Dräkblög has a postmortem on Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, saying that the English version of this Japanese RPG has now sold more than 100,000 copies. Developer Carpe Fulgar explains that this milestone does not mean that the are rolling in dough at this point, as many copies were sold at steep sale prices, and much of the proceeds go to EasyGameStation, developers of the original Japanese edition. They also discuss various possible scenarios based on their success, including the possibility of English voiceovers to complement the Japanese voices, the possibility this will allow them to break into console development, and the likelihood of mobile versions. They also talk about plans for the new year, which include a worldwide release for Chantelise, an action/RPG developed by EasyGameStation that GameFAQs says "was released in Europe in 2009." Thanks Siliconera.

APB Network Revamp

The APB-Reloaded Website has an update on plans to relaunch APB: All Points Bulletin later this year. There's a brief discussion of a new game client for the multiplayer sandbox shooter, and a more extensive outline for plans to revamp the entire GamersFirst network, which they call a "patchwork of services [that] caused various issues over the years," saying the revamp is "something that certainly makes the initial APB re-launch just a little slower than we had originally hoped for." They offer details on a new in-house network that's "multi-homed with two direct peers." Word is: "As of this moment 80% of our stuff still runs on the old network, with about 20% of traffic being pushed out of our new network. By the end of February we expect to reverse that and hope to have 80% of traffic running on the new network, and APB would be one of those key items running on the new and improved system."

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Crossing the Sandy Bridge.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well the holidays are in the rearview, and we had a fine old time here in the BlueTower. Many of the news stories about new year's resolutions mention that most of them end up broken, which makes me wonder if vowing to eat, drink, and smoke more might be better resolutions for people trying to cut down on their bad habits, but I'm guessing that wouldn't work either. I've made a resolution myself, but in case it's the revelation that ruins one's resolve, I'll just keep it to myself, like a birthday wish. If I manage to keep it, you'll probably be able to figure out what it is.

R.I.P.: Pete Postlethwaite. Thanks Mike Martinez.

Resolved Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Funny Muzzles.
Liquid Measure 2: Dark Fluid Level Pack.
Stories: 2,000 birds fall dead from the sky.
CDC: Flu Season Picks Up, Widespread In 5 States.
Science: World's first organ donor dies aged 79. Thanks Neatorama.
Images: Tim Liddy's Board Game Paintings. Thanks Neatorama.
2010's Best Celebrity Candid Photos.
Media: All the very best fails of 2010.
Boardwalk Empire VFX Breakdowns of Season 1.
Pug puppy vs ball and Yorkie vs static.
The Funnies: Brevity.



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