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Thursday, Sep 08, 2011

  

NPD: August Sales Down 23%

Gamasutra has the NPD Group's August report, where they say the video game industry suffered a 23 percent decline compared with August 2010, in part due to the delayed launch of the new Madden game. "More than half of industry sales in this channel are still to be realized in the back four months of the year," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "Given the strong release schedule in the coming months, new physical retail sales could still be flat to slightly up once full year sales are tallied." Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the top selling game for the month, and here's word on retail game sales: "Total console and portable retail game sales saw the biggest decline of all segments: the $264.8M in revenue represents a 34 percent drop from August of 2010. When combined with PC retail games, that percentage drops further to 37 percent."

Six Blizzard Releases Expected Over Three Years [Updated]

GameSpot has word from the Citi 2011 Technology Conference, where Activision Blizzard COO Thomas Tippl revealed they expect six "proven property" releases from Blizzard over the next three years. This would seem to include a World of Warcraft expansion or two, the two remaining StarCraft II releases, Diablo III and a DLC pack, though presumably not Titan, as their mysterious MMORPG is not yet a "proven property."

Gearbox Seeks Borderlands Feedback

Gearbox Software tweets a request for feedback on a Borderlands 2 Collectors Edition: "What would you guys like to see in a Borderlands 2 Collectors Edition? Tweet us back and share some of your suggestions!" There's a Borderlands Collectors Edition Suggestions thread on the Gearbox Software Forums, and we're told they are also watching feedback threads on forums such as ours, so you can post your suggestions here or there rather than tweet them. Further to their quest for feedback, they also have a Borderlands Fan Survey offering the "chance to influence the future of the Borderlands franchise."

RAGE Co-op Trailer

The Bethesda Blog offers a new gameplay trailer from RAGE called "Wasteland Legends: Water Service," highlighting cooperative play in id's upcoming first-person shooter. Part of the clip is presented as a split-screen, but it seems this is to show the action from both player's perspectives. This tweet describes the role of co-op in the game: "Wasteland Legends co-op features multiple co-op missions. They serve as side stories to the main quest." Here's the description of the clip: "In this co-op area, the Shrouded clan come to Wellspring to destroy the town’s water supply and two warriors join forces to fight off the invasion. It’s up to a duo of heroes to disarm bombs, take out bandits and save the town once again." Continue here to read the full story.

Hard Reset and Kingdoms of Amalur Videos Each Show 20+ Minutes

The GameFront Team Plays Hard Reset is a video of the first 20 minutes of the upcoming first-person shooter. Also, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning 22-Minute Walkthrough on IGN offers the complete E3 demonstration of the upcoming action/adventure. Seems safe to say these contain spoilers.

Saints Row: The Third Trailer; Lots of DLC Planned

This trailer shows off vehicle improvements in Saints Row: The Third (thanks PC Gamer). Also, VentureBeat has quotes from the Cloud Gaming USA conference where THQ CEO Brian Farrell talked about offering 40 weeks worth of DLC for the third installment in their open-world action series: "We totally change how we keep consumer engaged for a very long time," Farrell said. "We intend to create an online digital ecosystem that keeps them interested for a year or more." He also comments on their previous efforts at long-term monetization with the cancelled Company of Heroes Online and the poor-selling MX vs ATV Live, saying: "We experiment, but pioneers get arrows in their backs."

Advanced Tactics: Gold Patch

Matrix Games announces the release of a new patch for Advanced Tactics: Gold, updating the gilded strategy game to version 2.08. The patch is available on this page, and here's word on what it does: "The new update includes plenty of improvements and alterations to the powerful editor, many bug fixes, and minor rule changes/balance tweaks all of which combine to make it an upgrade you won’t want to miss!"

ARMA II Project Reality Beta

Beta 0.1 of the Project Reality modification for ARMA II is now available, offering similar enhancements to Bohemia Interactive's military shooter sequel as their previous Project Reality mod did for Battlefield 2 (thanks Ant). This includes new vehicles, units, and game modes, all presented with the following caveats:

This initial release is a BETA, and therefore should NOT be considered a final product. It should also be noted that this is v0.1 of a brand new mod on a new game engine and should not be compared in anyway to the Project Reality: BF2 modification. The aim of this BETA release is for the PR Team to get quality feedback to ensure that we are progressing in the right direction with the PR:ARMA2 mod.

Most of the current work we have is sitting at around 80-90% complete, but is simply not ready to be included in this initial BETA release. With that said, a lot of content has been removed and in some cases placeholders have been implemented so that we can concentrate on the more important gameplay aspect of the mod to ensure we get it right first.

Quoteworthy

"On a few occasions, I have seen progress bar updates take up more time than the actual work. Especially dangerous with vsync on." -- id Software Technical Director John Carmack, stating something I think we've all suspected.

New Via Digital Distribution

Games

Patches

On Sale

  • Crusader Kings Complete on Impulse. Save 80%.
  • Men of War Bundle on Impulse. Save 70%.
  • Need for Speed: SHIFT on Xbox.com. Save 50%.
  • Scourge of War - Gettysburg on Impulse. Save 33%.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V on Steam. Save 75%.
  • STORM: Frontline Nation on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Sword of the Stars - Complete Collection on Impulse. Save 80%.
  • Theatre of War on Impulse. Save 70%.
  • Theatre of War 2 - Africa 1943 on Impulse. Save 70%.
  • Theatre of War 3 - Korea on Impulse. Save 70%.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II on Impulse. Save 50%.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Happy 45th Anniversary to Star Trek.

Link of the Day: DOOM E1 M1 rerecording. Thanks Ant.

R.I.P.: Michael S. Hart. "Inventor of the E-book." Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

From Dust DRM Patched

Steam News announces the promised patch is now automatically available for From Dust to remove the requirement that the god game authenticate itself over the internet every time it's launched. The new version also moves saved game files out of the cloud and onto user's machines. Here are the patch notes

  • Title can be played in offline mode (no connection to the Internet is required after installing the patch)
  • Save file is moved from the Uplay/Ubisoft server to the local machine

Soldak's Space Game Next Year

An interview on Space Game Junkie talks with Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment about an unannounced space game in the works at the indie developer of Din's Curse. We contacted Soldak about this, and were told they expect a formal announcement of the game within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here are some of the things we learn from the interview: The basic premise is "a mercenary working for major empires warring with each other," it will feature flexible ship design that Steven says has him "hoping that everyone will design completely unique ships," space navigation will use simple mouse control, combat will be real-time, the game will be entirely space-based (no landing on planets), he's "pretty sure" they'll once again offer a beta for pre-order customers, and they're currently targeting a Q1 2012 release.

Dead Island "Private Joke" Goes Public

One of the consequences of accidentally releasing a developer's build of the game is the possibility of revealing removed content or inside jokes, as illustrated by a report on Kotaku about a discovery within the build of Dead Island inadvertently released on Steam (thanks nin). Word is a hunt through the game's code reveals the Gender Wars skill that allows Purna to deal extra damage to male opponents was originally called "Feminist Whore." This is confirmed with Techland, who indicate that while there weren't necessarily dire consequences for releasing a debug build instead of the final build of the game, there may be for this incident, as they say: "The person responsible for this unfortunate situation will face professional consequences for violating the professional standards and beliefs Techland stands for." Deep Silver also disavows this, saying: "These unfortunate actions were of one individual at developer company Techland and do not in any way represent the views of publishing company Deep Silver." Here's more of the response from Blazej Krakowiak, Techland International Brand Manager:

The line in question was something a programmer considered a private joke. The skill naturally has a completely different in-game name and the script reference was also changed. What is left is a part of an obscure debug function. This is merely an explanation but by no means an excuse. In the end that code was made a part of the product and signed with our company name. We deeply regret that fact and we apologize to all our customers or anyone who might have been offended by that inappropriate expression.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution The Missing Link Announcement

Square Enix formally announces The Missing Link, the upcoming DLC pack for Deus Ex: Human Revolution first revealed last week. The announcement confirms plans to release the DLC for the action/RPG prequel next month and offers a few screenshots and this trailer to promote it. Here's word:

The DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION conspiracy grows deeper in The Missing Link. During lead character Adam Jensen’s quest for the truth in DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION, he mysteriously vanishes for three days. Where was he? What did he find out? The Missing Link reveals it all.

"We are very excited for DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION fans to be able to further develop Adam’s journey in the game with The Missing Link DLC," said David Anfossi, producer of DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION at Eidos-Montreal. "Gamers will be able to experience a vulnerable side of Adam like never before, which gives the overall game a whole new dimension. The Missing Link propels players into compelling gameplay, beginning with Adam being temporarily stripped of his use of augmentations; new, visually stunning environments; and the continuation of DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION’s conspiracy-rich story.”

Continue here to read the full story.

F1 2011 Co-op Championship Mode Details, Trailer

A new Co-op Championship Mode Diary video from F1 2011 discusses the new Co-op Championship mode in Codemasters' upcoming Formula One racing sequel. The announcement of the new trailer has further details: "Available online, the Co-op Championship mode brings two friends together in the same team as they work together for the Constructors’ crown while also competing separately for the Drivers’ Championship title. This brand new feature for F1 2011 gives players a taste of the intense sporting and political rivalry that exists between drivers in FORMULA ONE teams as they balance personal glory and directing the development of the car in their favor with achieving team goals." Continue here to read the full story.

Dishonored Interview

There's a new video interview on Videogame.it (NSFW) where Raphaël Colantonio and Harvey Smith discuss Dishonored, Arkane Studios' upcoming stealthy first-person action/adventure game. This is presented with Italian subtitles, but the pair are speaking English, so while the questions are Italian, it's not hard to infer what's being asked from the answers. The pair explain the nature of Dishonored, its non-linear "sandboxy" approach to completing missions, the ability to play non-violently if you choose, their "chaos system," the reason they will not incorporate multiplayer, the "general" rather than "specific" nature of the game's powers, and more.

Activision: Call of Duty Elite "The Difference Between Social Gaming and a Community"

There's an article about Call of Duty Elite on Gamasutra based on discussing the upcoming Call of Duty multiplayer service with Activision digital VP Jamie Berger during the recent Call of Duty XP event. Much of this covers the justification for charging for a premium multiplayer service, as Jamie notes the audience is "very justifiably leery of these changes as something that's not intended to make the experience any better, but is simply to make them pay more for it. There's a lot of natural cynicism and we understand that." Besides access to all the game's DLC, he explains an advantage a premium $49.99 annual subscription will provide is insulation from the notorious hostility found in multiplayer play. "One of the most interesting things to me is how positive people are in the service. I'm most excited that within it, people are being supportive; they're actually talking to each other, and amongst each other," he says. "They're so happy to actually have a place to be part of a community, not a message board... they're actually behaving very much like people who just want to be social and have fun, not people who want to flame each other." He explains this seems to be more of a community: "It creates a social contract. How can we start behaving as if we live in a neighborhood? You try to treat your neighbors with respect. When you create a true community, that, to me, is the difference between 'social gaming' and a community."

Max Payne 3 in March 2012, Multiplayer Support Confirmed

Rockstar Games announces Max Payne 3 will be released in North America and Europe for Windows Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in March 2012. They also confirm previous indications that this installment in the third-person shooter series will include multiplayer support. They offer a couple of new screenshots, and here's word on the game:

Still haunted by the memories of his traumatic past, Max begins a new life working private security protecting a wealthy industrialist and his family in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When gangs target the family under his protection, Max is forced to fight to save his clients and clear his name, in a bid to, once and for all, rid himself of the demons that have tortured him for far too long.

A true cross-studio collaboration between Rockstar Games’ global development teams that picks up from where series creator Remedy Entertainment's Max Payne 2 left off, Max Payne 3 utilizes cutting edge technology for a seamless, cinematic action experience, incorporating the latest advances in Natural Motion physics as well as a brand new iteration of the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, resulting in highly-refined gameplay with an extensive range of realistic weaponry, an intelligent cover system and sophisticated Bullet-Time mechanics.

In addition to an expansive single-player campaign, Max Payne 3 will also be the first entry in the series to introduce a thorough and engrossing multiplayer experience. In a unique twist, Max Payne 3 multiplayer delivers a compelling experience that dynamically alters maps and mode progression for all players in a match. Along with traditional multiplayer modes, Max Payne 3 will also include a deep reward and leveling system, persistent clans and multiple strategic load-out options.

X-Motor Racing Patch & New Demo

A new version 1.31 of X-Motor Racing is now available, updating this independently developed racing simulation with improved keyboard controls and an improved clutch and auto clutch. The full version can be found on this page and an updated demo is available on this page. The new demo is mirrored on Gamer's Hell.

Gary Grigsby’s War in the East Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for Gary Grigsby’s War in the East: The German-Soviet War 1941-1945 to update the World War II strategy game to version 1.04.40. Here's the deal: "The update includes a handful of important bug fixes, along with a number of OOB, device, and AC file changes, and dozens of scenario tweaks and improvements." The patch is available on this page and mirrored on Gamer's Hell and The Patches Scrolls.

Jupiter's Folly Beta Launches

Jupiter's Folly is a new 4X multiplayer strategy game from Iron Helmet (Neptune's Pride) currently in beta testing that they describe as "a real-time online boardgame." This seems pretty clearly based to some extent on the Aliens series, pitting a miners against a hoard of alien creatures spawned by an underground queen, though players are all miners who must form alliances and determine when it is to their advantage to begin with the stabbing of backs. Described as "Great for people who don't have time to play games anymore. Just log in once or twice a day to build your mines and command your armies. Check back hours later to watch your empire expand and grow in games that last weeks or months."

Morning Previews

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on GameSpy.

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Tonight kicks off the NFL season, as the Packers and Saints will play a Thursday night opener. I am greatly looking forward to this, as my attention usually returns to the prospect of tackle football around the point when the Mets drop out of contention (insert joke here about this happening in late April).

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Dynamite Blast 2. Thanks Daniel.
Nick Toldy and the Legend of Dragon Peninsula.
Gluey 2.
Links: Real-Life Movie Props.
A Disappointing Summer Box-Office.
4 Rejected Fitness Games.
Stories: Nathan Mark Hardy Arrested With Live Lobsters In Shorts: Cops.
Facebook date used me for raid. Thanks Neatorama.
Super fan could use a hand from Superman. Thanks Boing Boing via Newsarama.
Science: Software tricks people into thinking it is human.
Surprise Underground River Found Beneath Amazon. Thanks Dakslf.
Terminal bombardment put the bling in Earth's crust.
Images: DOOM Thumbnail.
Star Wars Behind The Scenes: 40 Rare Photos. Thanks TDW Geeks.
Trump International Hotel Gets The LEGO Treatment.
Media: C-List Superheroes Audition For Hollywood Greatness.
Homerun Catch Into Pool Saving Beer.
The Funnies: Dueling Analogs- Anger Management.
Brevity.



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