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Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011

  

Crysis 2 DX 11 Tessellation and Hi Res Texture Packs Planned

A Direct X 11 Download Package Page on the MyCrysis has been uncovered, which will support the promised DirectX 11 update for Crysis 2, Crytek's shooter sequel, which is not yet available. This page was not officially unveiled, is not linked from the website yet, and contains links that do not yet work (though it does offer a gallery of DirectX 11 comparison screenshots for Crysis 2). The page looks like it will offer two optional downloads: A DX11 Tessellation Pack with pre-tessellated geometries they say are "necessary in order to be able to enjoy hardware tessellation on DirectX 11 graphics cards," and a Hi Res Textures pack that will support both the DirectX 9 and DirectX 11 editions of the game for users with 64-bit OSes and 1 GB graphics cards. Presumably this is an indication that the DirectX 11 patch will be released soon. Thanks Grifter.

PC Lead Platform on Tribes Ascend

A new Q&A on FPSguru.com discusses Tribes Ascend with Todd Harris, COO of Hi-Rez Studios, developers of the upcoming first-person shooter. Along the way he assures them the PC is the lead platform on this game: "Tribes: Ascend is being developed as a PC title first and foremost. Any console release will be much later." He also explains their goal of satisfying fans of the entire series:

Calling the Tribes community "passionate and vocal" is quite the understatement. I've always viewed Tribes more like a fast-paced, high-flying online sport than just an FPS. And Tribes fans are certainly as passionate as the most hard-core sports fans. Think about the fierce debates involved with a proposed rule change in sports, say moving the 3-point line in basketball, and you get a sense for how the community argues even among itself about which previous Tribes was actually the best and why, and how to best improve the game. Of course as the Dev team we want to remain true to the core IP but also improve and evolve the franchise.

So our biggest challenge is that, even though Hi-Rez has a great reputation for working with the community, in the case of Tribes it is not a single community. The community is actually divided into sub-factions in that some believe T1 was best, some T2, and some T:V. This is also a huge opportunity because we have a chance to bring all these skilled and incredibly knowledgeable players together within our single brand new title, Tribes: Ascend, and introduce the franchise to a new generation of FPS players.
We answer most fan mail with the acknowledgement, 'we know how much Tribes means to you, and we'll try not to f*** it up'.

Simon Carter Leaves Lionhead

Simon Carter, co-founder of Lionhead Studios satellite Big Blue Box, has parted ways with Lionhead, where he had served as the lead technical director on the Fable series, reports GamesIndustry.biz (registration required). Word is he will join up with his brother Dene, also a former senior manager at Lionhead. Word is the brothers will form "a new team focused on games for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Steam and mobile."

Orcs Must Die! Trailer

Robot Entertainment now offers a new trap spotlight trailer highlighting the Fire Bracers in Orcs Must Die!, the upcoming action/strategy game. Word is: "The new gameplay video highlights the Fire Bracers, one of many fortress defenses that players can unlock as they progress through the game. Prefer your orcs rare or medium-well? Too bad! The fire bracers can only cook an orc one way - well done! But you won't care how overdone the meat is when an entire wave of enemies stumbles through a fire wall or burns up in a fireball's explosion. You'll be too busy basking in the warm glow of success."

The Cursed Crusade Sizzle Trailer

A new "Sizzle" Trailer from The Cursed Crusade is now online, showing off more of the upcoming co-op action/adventure. Word is: "The succulent trailer serves up slices of the protagonists' stirring journey for salvation against the backdrop of the doomed Fourth Crusade, accompanied by a generous portion of limb-severing, bone-crushing combat. Moreover, the trailer dives into the main characters' motivations, giving viewers their first bite-sized glimpses into the game's backstory."

Close Combat Mega Update

Matrix Games now offers the promised "mega update" for the Close Combat series, which comes as a free upgrade to owners of any of the games in the World War II strategy series. Word is: "These new releases mark a fantastic overall improvement to the gameplay of the Close Combat games and show the astonishing distance the series has come since its original form many years ago. Be sure to check out the video on YouTube and the preview article at The Wargamer to see what everyone is so excited about!

New Via Digital Distribution

Games

  • Dungeon Siege III on Impulse.
  • Dungeon Siege III on Steam.
  • F.E.A.R. 3 on Steam.
  • Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising on Impulse.
  • Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising on Steam.
  • Ironclads: Anglo Russian War 1866 on Steam.
  • Ironclads: Chincha Islands War 1866 on Steam.
  • Ironclads: Schleswig War 1864 on Steam.
  • Litil Divil on GOG.com.
  • Magicka PVP DLC on Impulse.
  • Magicka PVP DLC on Steam.

Patches

On Sale

  • Breaking The Rules on Desura. Save 50%.
  • The Ironclads Collection on Steam. Save 15%.
  • Ironclads: Anglo Russian War 1866 on Steam. Save 10%.
  • Ironclads: Chincha Islands War 1866 on Steam. Save 10%.
  • Ironclads: Schleswig War 1864 on Steam. Save 10%.
  • James Bond: Blood Stone on Steam. Save 66%.
  • King Arthur Collection on Impulse. Save 25%.
  • Mass Effect Games on Direct2Drive. Save 60%.
  • Quantum of Solace on Steam. Save 66%.
  • Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! Double Pack on Steam. Save 75%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Parked Car Accident by Just for Laughs. Thanks Ant.

Magicka PvP Update Live

The Magicka Website has word that the promised free PvP update is now available for all owners of Magicka, the action/RPG from Arrowhead games. The Magicka PVP Trailer doesn't actually explain or show off PvP play, but does pay homage to some classic dialog from Reservoir Dogs (no, not the Madonna bit, the other one). This announcement, on the other hand, does provide further detail, saying "Players will be able to wreak havoc in the Havindir Arena and Training Ground maps, and a new Reservoir wizard robe will be available as new free content." It also outlines three different PvP gameplay modes, and announces the content of an accompanying Final Frontier Map Pack, which will set you back almost a buck:

Available for sale will be the all-new Final Frontier Map Pack, priced at .99, which include the never-before-seen Vulcanus Arena, a sci-fi themed map that doubles as a PvP map and a challenge map. Also available for purchase is the chilling Frozen Lake map as well as a “stop staring at me, you’re freaking me out” Watch Tower map, both priced at .99. As always players will be able to play the maps even if they didn’t purchase them – as long as the player hosting the map owns the map. Players will be able to don new robes suited for the new PvP game modes – a tank robe, a support robe and rogue robe.

Ships Ahoy - Dungeon Siege III, PC Control Fixes Planned

Square Enix announces the release of Dungeon Siege III for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, offering Obsidian Entertainment's new installment in this action/RPG franchise originated by Gas Powered Games. This launch trailer (slash commercial) celebrates the news, and here's a portion of the announcement:

In Dungeon Siege III, players assume the role of one of four heroes, fighting for the sake of their fallen comrades to restore the kingdom of Ehb. Conflict is constant in this action-RPG and decisions have lasting consequences, allowing players to alter the epic storyline. Fight to restore the 10th Legion with up to three friends via online co-op play. Dungeon Siege III allows for two players to experience the story from start to finish in local co-op mode. Thanks to robust cooperative AI, Dungeon Siege III allows players to seamlessly drop in and out of battle without interrupting the action or impacting the campaign.

Also, there's an interview about the game on Eurogamer.net where Nathaniel Chapman talks of enhancing the PC controls of this once-PC-exclusive franchise: "If there are PC gamers who are having a negative reaction it's less about what the combat is, it's more how the combat controls," the game's lead designer told them. "Actually this is one thing I would have liked to have spent more time on, and we are actually spending time on now. Basically, as long as PC gamers have a good way to control the combat they will enjoy it. One review - I can't remember which - said if you play with a game pad the combat is great, so right now we're working on improving the PC controls through an update."

Gaikai's Walmart Deal

A new Walmart Gamecenter Page offers online game sales, and will soon offer streaming game demos courtesy of Gaikai, the cloud-based gaming startup founded by Dave Perry. VentureBeat spoke with Perry about this development, and learned how it works:

With Gaikai, users can play any game through a web browser, without downloading anything. If the user’s connection speed isn’t fast enough, Gaikai doesn’t make an offer to play the game. That way, users won’t have a bad experience.

“Over the next 12 months, when people see a video game on TV and want to try it out, they can be sure the fastest way will be on Walmart’s website,” Perry said. ”It’s an exciting time and you’ll see more sites around the world doing these stealth launches with us.”

Under the deal with retailers, Gaikai gets paid for the number of minutes a user plays the streamed game. Perry said that Gaikai is in talks with 20 game publishers to enable them to reach Gaikai’s web site distributors. It already has a deal with Electronic Arts to stream its games.

Duke Nukem Forever Demo

Steam now offers the promised playable demo for Duke Nukem Forever, the first-person shooter sequel from Gearbox Software, 3D Realms, and a cast of thousands. The demo was previously restricted to members of the DNF "first access club." They offer no particulars on what is included in the sample of the game.

Team Fortress 2 Über Update Thursday, Free Play This Week

The Team Fortress 2 Website reveals plans for an Über Update, a new feather in the cap for this teamplay shooter, saying they are celebrating with a "WEEK-LONG FREE WEEKEND" of Team Fortress 2, which is now underway. The update, which Valve describes as "the biggest, most ambitious update in the history of Team Fortress 2," will go live on Thursday, and they are teasing the release with Mobster Monday, the first of their class pack announcements. There will be more teasing leading up to the release, and in the meantime they offer the following clues, presenting what seems to be an impenetrable mystery:

1.) It IS a "Meet the" short.
2.) It involves ONE of the two remaining classes.
3.) It's NOT the Pyro.
4.) It's the MEDIC.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad in August

Tripwire Interactive announces August 30, 2011 as the worldwide release date for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, their World War II first-person shooter sequel. Here's the news:

On August 30th, 2011 Tripwire Interactive will give you the opportunity to experience war in a whole new way with the release of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. PC Gamer declared Red Orchestra 2 "a generational leap for WWII shooters. It simply has the most impressive systems I’ve seen in an FPS." The game will be available simultaneously worldwide through Steam (http://store.steampowered.com/app/35450/) and other digital outlets, as well as in retail stores across the world, all on August 30th, 2011. MSRP will be $39.99 for the USA, with appropriate local pricing for other territories.

Ships Ahoy - F.E.A.R. 3

WBIE announces the North American launch of F.E.A.R. 3, Day 1 Studios' new contribution to the horror-themed shooter series originated by Monolith Productions. Here's a bit on the game:

In F.E.A.R. 3, players can take on the role of Point Man, a genetically enhanced super-soldier, or the undead spirit of his brother Paxton Fettel, a paranormal entity who possesses incredible psychic powers. The two brothers have a vicious history but must work together in an uneasy alliance to pursue Alma Wade, their tortured and psychically gifted mother, who is about to give birth to something that could destroy the world.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Day 1 Studios enlisted two horror masters, legendary film director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) and writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), to consult on the cinematics and script.

F.E.A.R. 3 evolves the F.E.A.R. franchise by introducing a unique system called divergent co-op, along with social gameplay that gives players distinctly different abilities that affect their own play and the experience of gamers they are playing with…or against. The game also offers a robust scoring and challenge system, which encourages replay, tactical variation, and exploration throughout the game.

Ships Ahoy - Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising

Heatwave Interactive announces the launch of Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, their MMORPG based on the mythology of ancient Rome. They say the game is now available in select North American stores, and will be released in European retailers on Friday, though they are calling this a "global launch." It looks like this is all still in the process of gearing up, as the Gods and Heroes Website still says the game is available for preorder. Word is: "Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising is a full-scale action-adventure MMORPG set amid the familiar landmarks and legendary environments of ancient Rome. Each player’s character is a Demigod, a child of both god and mortal, and celebrated Hero who must battle an ancient enemy that has returned to topple the empire and avenge their defeat at the hands of the Olympian gods."

BioShock Infinite Trailer

A trailer from BioShock Infinite that seems to have been released about a week ago (thanks Eurogamer) features Ken Levine from Irrational Games explaining the role of Sky-Lines in the upcoming shooter sequel. These were built as a system to move cargo around on the floating city of Columbia, though Ken describes how they also began serving as transportation for people, originally mischievous kids, but later by most of Columbia's populace, as they still needed to get around once the situation in the city began to deteriorate. This lead to them being used for "all kinds of purposes, including, and especially, combat." Ken describes how this adds the ability to experience the game's airborne environment in combat, as opposed to the watery environment of the first BioShock, which he describes as "really just a piece of art: We never really dealt with, you know, what it was like to fight at the bottom of the ocean in any meaningful way." The embedded trailer follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Duke Nukem Forever Demo Today

The 2K Games Forums have word that the playable demo for Duke Nukem Forever should now be available on Xbox 360 for all Xbox LIVE Gold members, and should be released for all Steam owners around noon eastern time today: "As you all know, last week, after 15 long years, against all odds, Duke Nukem Forever launched. Today we are giving people the chance to try the game for themselves. The Duke Nukem Forever demo will go live on Xbox 360 at 2 AM PDT and on Steam at 9 AM PDT. (We are currently working with Sony to get the demo out as soon as possible too.) If you haven't played DNF yet, now is your chance to try out part of gaming history and have some big fun Duke style -- check it out and tell us what YOU think." Thanks Voodoo Extreme.

City of Heroes Going Free-to-Play

The City of Heroes Website announces that City of Heroes Freedom will launch later this year, brining a free-to-play component to Paragon Studios' MMORPG. This will be a hybrid method which will still include subscriptions as well as the ability to play gratis. There's an interview on the topic on Gamasutra, and here's word on what this means to existing subscribers:

All current City of Heroes subscribers will automatically be upgraded to VIP accounts when City of Heroes Freedom launches. When City of Heroes Freedom launches, you will continue to enjoy all of the subscription benefits and content you enjoy today, as well as brand-new exclusive rewards, features, and services. Additionally, beginning on July 1, 2011, you will earn 400 Paragon Points each month. When City of Heroes Freedom launches, you will become a VIP player, and you will start with a tidy sum of Paragon Points to spend in the new in-game Paragon Market.

LEGO Universe Going Free-to-Play

The LEGO Group announces that LEGO Universe will go free-to-play this August. This involves the addition of a free zone, though they are not adding microtransactions at this point: "LEGO Universe will continue to generate revenue through paid memberships, and there are no plans for micro-transactions at this time. Players can try out the free-to-play zone for an unlimited period of time, and can pay $10 (USD) per month to become a LEGO Universe member and receive full game access. Those who sign up for extended memberships will continue to receive discount pricing."

GameRanger Resurrects GRID Multiplayer

GameRanger announces the addition of support for GRID multiplayer under Windows, following news that Codemasters is ending multiplayer support for the Windows and PlayStation 3 editions of the rally racing game. This is because multiplayer in the game is peer-to-peer, and the removal of multiplayer support was caused by the shutdown of the matchmaking servers, so the game's addition to GameRanger solves this problem.

Scott from GameRanger has also helped us understand why this went down: While GRID uses Xbox LIVE's built-in matchmaking for multiplayer support, the Windows and PS3 editions used Demonware for this functionality, and Activision acquired Demonware in 2007, and as a result, Demonware subsequently announced: "Since Demonware was acquired by Activision Inc. in May 2007, we no longer licence our software to third party developers." So presumably the end of multiplayer support was because this middleware license lapsed (the game was released almost exactly three years ago).

A Valley Without Wind's New Perspective

The Games By Design Blog has news that this upcoming procedurally generated action game will be shifting to a true side-view perspective, rather than the previously planned "top-down 2D game in a faux perspective that is common to SNES, DS, and pixelart games" (that we have been calling side-view all along, so we can simultaneously take blame for being inaccurate and credit for being prescient). They offer a video showing the new look, and an additional developer diary that adds even more to the substantial detail they offer about this. Here's word on what the change means to the game: "The perspective change has been a unifying force for the art as well as the gameplay, while ditching the camera angle that was bothering so many people in the previews. All of the individual graphics in the last video diary were high-res and attractive, but the overall composition was never able to gel until now."

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Console Beta in January

The Ghost Recon Twitter Feed announces plans to launch a multiplayer beta test in January: "We know you have been asking about the beta. We're excited to announce that the MP beta will be launching in January 2012!" A subsequent tweet indicates this will be on Xbox 360 only. Thanks Shacknews.

More on Arkham City's Robin

WBIE announces details on how North American gamers can get in on the previously announced preorder bonus that will offer Robin as a playable character in challenge mode. The Tim Drake Robin pack is being offered exclusively to North American fans who pre-order the game from Best Buy on any platform. Here's a Robin render, and here's a bit more: "Robin will come complete with his own unique gadgets and special moves, and will be playable in all challenge maps in the game, as well as two additional challenge maps that are included with the pack – Black Mask Hideout and Freight Train Escape. The pack will also contain a bonus Red Robin character skin."

It Came from E3 2011, Part 19

Op Ed

Wired.com - My Side of the Duke Nukem Twitter ‘Brain Fart’. By Jim Redner.
My tweet did not name names or point specific fingers. I made a blanket statement. My anger was directed at one story that had gone too far in my opinion, to which I am entitled. That story and the writer will remain nameless. I am not interested in shouting matches and I cannot compete with a large site with tens of thousands of followers. TheRednerGroup is only me, and that writer could bring another onslaught upon me with the click of the enter key on his computer. In hindsight, what I should have done was contact that writer directly and had an adult conversation about the issue, as I have done in the past.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

  • Pro Cycling Manager: Tour de France 2011 on Blue's News.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Today is the first day of summer here in the northern hemisphere, as the solstice occurs at 1:16 pm EDT today. We've had some hot days this spring, but also some very spring-like weather, which doesn't always happen in the northeast U.S. But in keeping with the increasingly tropical weather patterns around here, the forecast calls for thundershowers every day this week.

Tropical Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Portal Cannon.
Extinct: Are You Smarter Than a Plant?
Cavemen vs Dinosaurs.
Stories: How To Make Five Futurama Props Super Cheap.
William Shatner Will Not Appear in Star Trek Sequel.
Robert Smigel Details ‘Green Lantern’ Movie He Wrote For Jack Black.
Science: Japanese scientists turn sewage into edible "feces steak".
Microdrones, Some as Small as Bugs, Are Poised to Alter War. Thanks j.c.f.
Hydrogen-powered unmanned aircraft takes first flight.
Images: The D20 Velvet Napping Pillow Is Perfect For Marathon D&D Sessions.
Space Invaders Traffic Light.
Media: Heavy is Spy. NSFW.
Meet Zola the Breakdancing Gorilla. His pop-and-locking needs work.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Follow-ups: Large Hadron Collider achieves 2011 data milestone. Thanks [H]ard-OCP.
Merriam-Webster Online Trend Watch: Schadenfreude.
Greatest Ryan Dunn Videos.



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