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Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011

  

Steam Trading Beta

Team Fortress 2 Blog announces Valve is beta testing a new function to allow the trade of in-game items and gifted games between players. A Steam Trading Beta FAQ attempts to answer all your questions about this, and here's a bit on how it works:

Steam Trading Beta lets you securely trade your in-game items for other in-game items from participating games. You can also trade Steam gifts (games on Steam that you've purchased but not yet added to your Games Library).

Want to try it out? In Steam, go to Steam > Settings, and opt into Steam Trading Beta. That's it! Now your Steam Community profile will have an item inventory, and you'll be able to view the item inventories of every public profile in the Steam community.

Now that you've opted into the Trading Beta, you can invite people to trade through Group Chat, and trade with anybody in your Friends List who's also opted in. Just right-click on their name and select "Invite to Trade" from the dropdown menu. Once your friend accepts your offer to trade, a trade window will open up. The first time you open the trade window, a step-by-step walkthrough will guide you through your first trade.

Gone Gold - Dead Island; New Co-op Trailer

Deep Silver announces that Dead Island is gold, and that Techland's open-world zombie action game is now being reproduced for release in North America on September 6th and on September 9th in the rest of the world. Word is: "Only teamwork can get the four different protagonists of Dead Island through the seemingly insurmountable odds and dangers that await them on the zombie infested tropical island of Banoi. Their different skillsets complement each other and give them the ability to oppose the hordes of zombies that await them around every corner of the former holiday paradise." They also tout the game's "seamless co-op experience for up to four players with easy drop-in/drop-out mechanics throughout the whole game," and offer a new trailer (NSFW) showing off the game's co-op support. The trailer is also embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

THQ Closes Studios, Drops MX vs. ATV For Now

THQ announces a shakeup that is resulting in the closure of its two Australian studios, as well as its game development team at their Phoenix location, though their Quality Assurance team in Phoenix remains. Approximately 200 employees have lost their jobs as a result. Word is: "THQ is in the process of transitioning its portfolio away from licensed kids titles and movie-based entertainment properties for consoles and has also decided not to actively pursue further development of the MX vs. ATV franchise at this time." Here's an explanation of their refocus going forward:

THQ’s five internal development studios are focused on key initiatives and franchises: THQ Montreal, creating an unannounced new IP with a team led by industry veteran, Patrice Désilets; Volition, Inc., developing the highly anticipated upcoming game Saints Row®: The Third,™ and inSANE™ in collaboration with renowned film director Guillermo del Toro; Relic Entertainment, creators of Company of Heroes and the upcoming Warhammer 40,000®: Space Marine™ for PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system; Vigil Games, developing Darksiders® II and next year’s MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online™; and THQ San Diego, developers of WWE All Stars and creating best-in-class fighting games.

Team Bondi Assets Sold

Develop has word on the sale of the assets and IP of controversial L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi to Kennedy Miller Mitchell (KMM), described as "a Sydney production studio that works across a range of media, including games." They quote an "insider" saying the team was offered a choice between joining KMM or accepting a severance package, leading to speculation that the studio is being shut down, but it is "unclear" if Team Bondi "will continue as a going concern."

Space Marine Co-op Coming Post-Release

A post on the Space Marine Forums from Sunday night outlines how co-op support will be added to Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine in a post-release update to Relic's action/RPG (thanks Shacknews). It's nothing that will affect PC gamers, but this will be one of those disincentives to buying used copies:

Co-Op Details:

1.) Space Marine will have Co-Op added in 30 days give or take after launch.
a.) Why? We wanted to polish up the Co-Op aspect of Space Marine.
2.) The GameStop Co-Op call out was old information and we have a nice slate of info to cover all your Co-Op needs.
3.) Everyone who purchases Space Marine at retail (brand new) will get Co-Op for FREE. If you buy the game one year from now the Co-Op option will still be Free as long as the game is sealed brand new from retail.

I will update this thread with all the Co-Op details when we release them, so please stop speculating and confusing users with false info.

GameFly Adding Digital Game Rentals

GameFly reveals the addition of digital distribution to their game rental service, as they follow Netflix's lead in taking advantage of the internet to remove the hassles of mailing physical media back-and-forth with customers. They are currently signing up beta testers, and say testing of the service will begin on September 8. VentureBeat has details on the subscription plans: "Subscription plans vary from $15.95 a month for one game to plans with two, three or four games at any one time. All of those users are allowed to use the online digital distribution for free. The company has more than 200 employees. Last year, the company said it had 422,000 users and it has not updated that number."

BioWare on Dragon Age Changes, Past and Future

IndustryGamers recently spoke with BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka about Dragon Age II, and the discontent of some fans at the changes in the RPG sequel compared with Dragon Age: Origins. Dr. Ray points out that these changes helped introduce a wider audience to the series, but also talks about making changes based on user feedback in upcoming Dragon Age II DLC, and presumably Dragon Age III. Here's an excerpt:

"We’re working on future projects in the Dragon Age franchise," he acknowledged. "We have some more DLC plans, that actually address some of the feedback from some of our core fans. I think that’s going to be really satisfying to fans who liked DAO and DA2. We haven’t announced Dragon Age III formally at all, but we can say we’re definitely thinking about future products. There’s some cool stuff in the works there."

Gotham City Impostors Beta Signups

The Gotham City Impostors Website is now accepting applications for a limited closed beta test of Monolith's upcoming non-superhero first-person shooter. They have an NDA for applicants to fill out, and word is the beta will commence next month. There are checkboxes for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 owners, but an this post suggests the beta will only be on the PC.

Aethereus Announced

ThreeGates announces Aethereus, an upcoming online PC co-op game they plan on showing off at the upcoming GamesCom convention. "Aethereus is the first title to show what ThreeGates is looking to do with Co-Op games," said Don Geyer, CEO of ThreeGates. "With the Diablo, Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath series setting the standard, there’s a lot of interest in games that enable smaller groups of players to get together and have a really compelling game experience without being in a full MMO world. While a lot of the development community is moving to social games and free-to-play games, we know we’ve got a game that many gamers will appreciate!" More should be revealed soon, but for now we have a feature list, which follows. Continue here to read the full story.

New Telepath RPG: Servants of God Demo

Sinister Design offers an updated playable demo for Telepath RPG: Servants of God, an upcoming game described as part Japanese strategy RPG, part free-roaming Western RPG featuring a "narrative about identity, the nature of the mind, and the existence of God." Playing the demo requires Adobe AIR, which allows it to be played under Windows, OS X, and Linux using the same installer. Downloads of the demo are mirrored on Gamer's Hell. Word on some of what is changed from the original demo released earlier this year follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Grand Theft Auto IV San Andreas

The Grand Theft Auto IV San Andreas Website now offers the first beta version of this modification that adds the content of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to Grand Theft Auto IV so it can be experienced through GTA IV's Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE). This release is actually a bit earlier than expected, as the website has an update from June saying to expect the first beta in autumn. These screenshots offer a look at the outcome. Thanks Orly and Rose.

New Via Digital Distribution

Games

  • ARMA: Cold War Assault on Steam.
  • Chris Sawyer's Locomotion on GOG.com.
  • Trauma on Steam.
  • Tropico 4: Steam Special Edition Demo on Steam.

Patches

On Sale

Games Tracker offers an online resource for finding game bargains. Thanks Ant.

  • Rock of Ages on Steam. Save 10% on prepurchases.
  • Sniper Elite on Steam. Save 50%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Penny Arcade! - Sound And Fury. Thanks nin.

Modern Warfare 3 Spec Ops Survival Trailer

A new trailer from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 shows off the Spec Ops survival mode in the upcoming military third-person shooter sequel. The clip shows lots of shooting, the perks and upgrades to be earned along the way, and some of the enemies you will face, including explosive dogs and guys in cumbersome body armor. As a bonus there's a scene of an opponent at the receiving end of a nifty smartass kill. The clip is embedded below, guarded by our infallible electronic bouncer. Continue here to read the full story.

Serious Sam 3: BFE Split Screen Support

Croteam announces split screen support in the Windows edition of Serious Sam 3: BFE, saying the upcoming first-person shooter prequel will come with four-player split screen campaign cooperative and multiplayer versus modes. "Serious Sam games are known for frantic campaign coop and multiplayer modes so we wanted to make sure that Serious Sam 3: BFE dials up the chaos even more with local split screen co-op at launch," said Alen Ladavac, Lead Programmer at developer Croteam. "Serious Sam fans have been very vocal on the Facebook fan page and the forums about split screen modes so we wanted to make sure we exceeded their expectations." The announcement shows more of Croteam's signature irreverent humor, including a quote from now-legendary Devolver CFO Fork Parker and a colorful list of advantages to split-screen mode over online multiplayer. Here's the explanation of how four players can play on the same computer:

Using a mouse and keyboard in combination with up to three game pads on a PC, Serious Sam fans will be able to battle together through the twelve levels of mayhem and go head-to-head in Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Survival, Beast Hunt and other multiplayer modes in Serious Sam 3: BFE.

New NVIDIA WHQL Reference Drivers

NVIDIA now offers new version 280.26 reference drivers, the first WHQL-certified drivers from the new 280 series for their GeForce and ION GPUs. There are drivers for Windows 7/Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Vista 64-bit/Windows 7 64-bit, and Windows XP 64-bit. These enable SLI technology on SLI-certified motherboards with AMD 990FX, 990X, and 970 chipsets; support GPU overclocking and temperature monitoring by installing NVIDIA System Tools software; update PhysX and HD Audio drivers, and more. Thanks Charles.

Tropico 4 Demo

A playable demo is now available for Tropico 4, offering the chance to put on the olive drab of El Presidente for the upcoming fourth installment in the island dictator simulation series. The full game is expected at the end of this month, and the demo is available on AtomicGamer, ComputerGames.ro, Gamer's Hell, Strategy Informer, and Worthplaying. Word is: "The demo includes four tutorial missions and one campaign mission, which will set players on a quest to become the ultimate leader of a Caribbean island empire."

Hard Reset Demo Planned

There's a Hard Reset Preview on Strategy Informer with a look at this recently announced cyberpunk-themed first-person shooter. This is accompanied by a Hard Reset Interview talking with Flying Wild hog cofounder and programmer Klaudiusz Zych about the project. Along the way he confirms they plan on supporting its release with a playable demo: "I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t do a demo of Hard Reset," he tells them. "It’s an old-school game, and in the old times, games had demos."

Strike Suit Zero Announced

Kuju Entertainment subsidiary doublesix games announces Strike Suit Zero, an arcade-style space shooter to be released via digital distribution in the first quarter of next year for Windows and consoles. We have a few screenshots and a cinematic teaser trailer, and word is the game will be demonstrated at the upcoming Gamescom conference in Germany. Here's a bit from the announcement:

Guildford, UK - 9th August 2011 - doublesix games, the award-winning independent studio creator of Burn Zombie Burn!, today announces Strike Suit Zero; a unique arcade space shooter in which players will fly a transforming fighter -- known as a “Strike Suit” -- as they battle to save the Earth. Strike Suit Zero will be digitally released on the PC and game consoles in early 2012.

Strike Suit Zero is an action-packed arcade game set in the final hours of a future Earth. The clock is ticking; your planet is about to be destroyed and its only hope is the Strike Suit; an advanced, transforming spacecraft that empowers the player with ludicrous firepower and awesome abilities. Every second is precious; you’ll be forced to fight with fury, choose targets on instinct and make snap decisions that will not only affect the outcome of your mission but your path through the game and the ultimate destiny of seven billion lives.

Disney's Surround Haptics

ConceivablyTech has a write-up on surround haptics technology being demonstrated by Disney Research, Pittsburgh at SIGGRAPH 2011. Here's a bit:

“Although we have only implemented surround haptics with a gaming chair to date, the technology can be easily embedded into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and mobile computing devices,” said Ivan Poupyrev, senior research scientist at DRP, who invented and developed surround haptics with Ali Israr, also of DRP. “This technology has the capability of enhancing the perception of flying or falling, of shrinking or growing, of feeling bugs creeping on your skin. The possibilities are endless.”

Compared to today’s physical feedback devices, the actuators do not feature the “buzzing” that is typical for cellphones or game controllers, the researchers said. Surround haptics supports virtual actuators, which enables devices to simulate a more constant feeling such as a spider walking up your body or a finger tracing a pattern on your skin. DRP also believes that the technology has an application field to provide new tactile means of communication for the blind, emergency workers, vehicle operators, athletes and others.

Syfy's Gaming Initiatives

The Hollywood Reporter interviews Dave Howe, talking with the president of the Syfy television network about their gaming projects, including the Red Faction: Armageddon tie-in movie, their MMO shooter DEFIANCE, and what's next. Here's Dave's take on the future: "I think it’s early days for us. Trion was our first major joint venture and we entered into that two or three years ago. We have the joint venture partnership with THQ. We just announced a gaming initiative whereby we’re publishing around six Facebook games. This is a beginning of what we hope will be an aggressive expansion and we do truly believe that his is a ripe opportunity for Syfy to capitalize on and the right opportunity to really exploit the passion, the interest, the habits, and the entertainment consumption habits of our audience in a way that we’ve never been able to do in the past. We’re very excited about games and we see it as a big growth opportunity for us over the next five to 10 years."

North Korea Farming for Gold, Nukes, and Rolexes?

NYTimes.com reports on a group of North Korean computer hackers operating out of Northern China to exploit South Korean game servers for online games such as Lineage to gather in-game gold, with some of the proceeds going back to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il's coffers, where it may contribute to the purchase of Nukes and Rolexes. They say the gold farmers have raised $6 million USD in under two years, with a portion of the share paid to the hackers being sent back to Pyongyang. Word is: "South Korean and American officials say they believe the slush fund is worth billions, and that Mr. Kim uses it to help finance his nuclear weapons programs and to smuggle Rolex watches and other luxury goods, which he doles out to buy the allegiance of the party and the military elite. Meanwhile, the bulk of his people suffer privation and myriad hardships." Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Interview

An interview with Matther Merger on FPSguru.com eschews their stated focus on first-person shooters to discuss Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Relic's upcoming third-person action/RPG set in the sci-fi portion of the Warhammer universe. They discuss the elements of Warhammer 40K they are bringing to the game, discussing battlefields, ultramarines, orks, weapons, the back-story, and more.

Op Ed

Ars Technica - What EA will lose if Battlefield 3 remains off Steam.
This entire debate can be boiled down to the simple fact that people already use Steam, they like Steam, and they resent being forced to set up an account with another service to play a game. This is especially true when it's a brand-new, untested storefront that's being driven by a company that has given PC gamers every reason to be skeptical. It's unclear if Battlefield 3 will be enough of a draw to make customers forget that fact.

For many gamers, Steam is PC gaming and, while threats of a boycott often seem hollow, in this case it will be as if the game simply doesn't exist for many Steam users.

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I got an interesting email from a reader named Gareee about my comment about grilling chicken breasts. He offered the suggestion to simmer them in the marinade a bit before getting them on the grill. I think I will give this a try, though it will probably take a little trial-and-error to determine the proper amount of simmering, but it sounds like this may be as effective as other items that I do this way, as I use beer to precook sausages and chicken wings before grilling them, which does a nice job of keeping them moist.

Moistened Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Immortal Souls: Dark Crusade.
Maze of Illusions.
Links: 10 Conspiracies About The Moon (Not Including The Big One). Thanks Neatorama.
Images: Angry Birds Superhero Mashups.
Beyond Water Cooling.
The Price of Gas These Days.
Media: Knockout FAIL and FAILBlog PSA: The Best of July.
Greatest freakout ever 15. Thanks Flying Penguin.
NMA: Newark ranked worst airport by Wall Street Journal.
Follow-up: NASA Mars rover will roll into its ultimate crater destination this week.



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