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Thursday, Nov 10, 2011

  

Free-to-Play EverQuest II Next Month

A new producer's letter announces EverQuest II is going full-on free-to-play next month after operating as a divided subscription/free combo platter. The letter is lengthy, going into extensive detail on how this will impact players of the MMORPG sequel, but it concludes with a handy summary:

All of this (and more) is planned to happen on the same day in early December (we'll announce the exact date as we get closer):

        • "Age of Discovery" expansion launch (pre-order available now!).
        • GU 62 -"Freeport Reborn" launch, free to all players!
        • Free-to-play conversion.
        • A brand new website with an all new players section!

And more. Yes, there's still more that needs to firm up before being announced!
When all is said and done, there will only be two types of servers, PvE and PvP. You'll have complete flexibility on payment options. There will no longer be a mandatory up-front cost of any sort.

Everyone will be a winner.

Today, we'll be doing a Community Webcast covering all of this. Please be sure to send in any questions you might have via the Facebook page or Twitter so we can respond with answers during the Webcast!

You're going to love Age of Discovery, and Freeport is fantastic. Now that everything else is so incredibly flexible as well, there's a ton to love about EQII. We're looking forward to a great future with you!

Animating Skyrim

Animating Skyrim on The Elder Scrolls Official Site is another lengthy developer diary for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda's excruciatingly imminent RPG sequel. As before, in addition to the text, this also offers an audio podcast, as well as this trailer on creating the game's animations. "We kind of reinvented the whole thing, and started with a brand new animation system," says lead animator Josh Jones. "From there it was like, what do we do with this? We have a lot of flexibility in terms of NPCs interacting with the environment, with each other. We have much more complex combat [in this game] than we had before."

New Men of War: Assault Squad MP DLC

A new MP Supply Pack Bravo DLC pack is now available on Steam for Men of War: Assault Squad, the World War II real-time strategy sequel. Here's word:

MP Supply Pack Bravo is the second official multiplayer DLC for Men of War: Assault Squad and features 5 new competitive multiplayer maps for various numbers of players. Each map has its own unique setting and battle landscape. The 5 new multiplayer maps are for the gamemodes Assault Zones and Combat, as well as for the DLC exclusive Day of Victory gamemode.

Lord British's "Ultimate" Role Playing Game

Richard Garriott, better known by many as Lord British (or more properly Richard Garriott de Cayeux), has a post on Facebook titled "What is a Lord British 'Ultimate' Role Playing Game." This provides a lengthy retrospective on his work on RPGs, dating back to the pre-Ultima days and looking ahead to the work his new company, Portalarium, is doing in the realm of social and mobile gaming. Here's a bit on that:

There are staggeringly important new features unearthed by some of the early movers in this space. Powerful new asynchronous tools allow friends in the real world to aid each other and “play” together without being forced to play online at the same time every day or risk falling out of the leveling curve and ultimately losing the ability to play with friends. Instead of paying huge upfront costs, it is better to let players try before they buy, and for those who wish to play for free, it’s fair to ask them to help you bring others to the game in return for continued free play. Proper social tools are compatible with the Ultimate RPG.

So when traditional gamers look at all the “Ville” clones out there in the world, take heart! See not what is popular now, but rather what is happening in this new era that also would benefit them! A great game, like a great movie, need not be inaccessible to the masses. Great story and depth need not come at the cost of up front effort, pain and cost. Free to play does not mean the game has to be riddled with advertising and calls to spam your friends. But, for those unwilling or unable to pay fairly for what they now play, asking them to work for the developer and find us players is not unfair. Great games can and will be made in this new era, to the benefit of all, traditional and new players. We intend to be a leading maker of such games.

LIMBO Sells 1M; Mac Version Coming

Independent developer Playdead announces the sales success of LIMBO, saying their puzzle-platforming adventure "has now sold over one million copies worldwide – played by gamers in 153 countries in 9 languages across 3 platforms. This success has enabled Playdead to expand its independence by fully acquiring the company from early investors, laying the groundwork for the studio to begin developing and financing their next title." They also announce plans for an OS X edition:

Hot on the heels of this milestone, Playdead today also announced that a Mac version of LIMBO is in the works and will be released before the end of the year. For information about the game, including news of the upcoming Mac launch, visit the official website at: www.limbogame.org/.

New Via Digital Distribution

On Sale

  • Anuman games on GOG.com. Save 60%.
  • Day of Defeat on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Day of Defeat: Source on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Jamestown: Gunpowder, Treason, & Plot DLC on Steam. Save 33%.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Steam Forum Downtime Follow-up; Steam Also Breached

Valve confirms indications from earlier this week that the downtime on the Steam Users' Forums was the result of a break-in, revealing that the Steam service itself also suffered an intrusion. Here is a message from Valve's Gabe Newell explaining the situation:

Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users,

Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.

We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.

We don't have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely.

While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well.

We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.

We will reopen the forums as soon as we can.

I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Gabe.

Star Trek Online F2P Delayed to January 2012

The Path to F2P Dev Blog #21 on the Star Trek Online Website announces the launch of the free-to-play era in the Trekkie MMORPG will be on January 17, 2012, a slight delay from the previously announced plan for this to come by the end of this year. They also outline the various rewards that will come to subscribers between now and then, and also outline the return of Feature Episode Special Rewards in this post. They also point the way to a recent article on the topic on IGN where Cryptic's Stephen D'Angelo describes how they are using lessons learned from making Champions Online free-to-play in this process, and they are also revisiting how easily the game's best loot is to acquire. "A lot of the things people acquired weren't worth very much to them," D'Angelo says. So the plan leading up to the switch to free-to-play is to make the high-end stuff more difficult to acquire, and the low-end stuff simpler. Put simply, "[We're] revisiting the game's economy."

Tribes: Ascend Speed Cap Removed

The Rez Studios Website has patch notes for a new version 0.1.523 for the closed beta of Tribes: Ascend, the upcoming jetpack-powered multiplayer shooter revival. They mention new maps and some fixes, one of which should encourage those hoping the game's mechanics will live up to its predecessors: "The speed cap has been removed and various falling, skiing and jetpack physics changes have been implemented, including modifications to Skills."

2nd IndieRoyale Bundle Launches

IndieRoyale now offers "The Difficult 2nd Bundle," the new installment in their indie game bundle. This is offered with their unique pricing scheme: The bundle starts at a very low price point, and the price rises as more customers buy it, which encourages acting early. There is also an option for generous users to show their support by paying more than the current price, which will drive the price down. The new bundle comprises NightSky (Windows, Desura, Steam), Fate of the World ((Windows, OS X, Desura, Steam), Scoregasm (Windows, OS X, Linux, Desura, Steam), and Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! (Windows, Desura, Steam). As of this writing the minimum price is $2.81 USD. Thanks nin.

Gotham City Impostors in January, Beta Next Month

WBIE and DC Entertainment announce a January 10, 2012 release date for Gotham City Impostors for Windows PC, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network. They also say they expect open beta testing of this Batman spin-off first-person shooter should commence next month, and those interested in participating should sign up on the game's website. Here's a new Gotham City Impostors screenshot that accompanies the news.

No Always-on DRM in Assassin's Creed Revelations

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has word from Ubisoft that the Windows PC edition of Assassin's Creed Revelations will not suffer with Ubi's "always-on" DRM, which requires an ongoing connection to the internet to play. This is welcome news that hopefully signals a shift away from this widely despised scheme. In other Assassin's Creed Revelations news, below are the official launch trailer for the stealth/action sequel as well as a "Life in Constantinople" trailer, which "showcases Constantinople, the Crossroads of the World." As before, we've been instructed to hide these clips from delicate eyes. Continue here to read the full story.

Still More Legal Fallout

Duck and Cover continues to keep up with the latest courtroom drama in the conflict between Interplay and Bethesda Softworks over Fallout Online and whether Interplay has lived up to the conditions that will allow them to release a Fallout MMORPG after selling the franchise to Bethesda. They note that court documents indicate the case will be decided by the court (judge), rather than a trial by jury as previously planned. They also note a motion by Interplay suggesting they are seeking to have their entire agreement with Bethesda nullified, which would have the rights to the entire franchise to them.

Skyrim Reviews

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not scheduled for release until tomorrow, but reviews of Bethesda's RPG sequel are starting to roll in. There are reviews specifically for the Windows PC edition on GameSpy, GameSpot, IGN, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun; and there are console or platform-agnostic reviews on 1UP, AtomicGamer, Computer and Video Games, Destructoid, Edge Magazine, Eurogamer, GameTrailers, Gaming Nexus, Giant Bomb, IncGamers, Joystiq, Shacknews, Strategy Informer, VentureBeat, VideoGamer.com, and Worthplaying.

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

In spite of making an appointment almost a year in advance for my annual physical next week, a morning spot was not available, and I will be seeing the doctor in the early afternoon. Since one is supposed to fast before giving blood to be tested, I made a separate appointment to for a blood draw this morning so I wouldn't have to wait until the afternoon to eat. This makes me wonder why it isn't done this way always, as there's a good chance the doctor will have the results of my tests to discuss with me when I see him, which makes more sense than the rushed "everything seems okay" phone conversation we usually have following seeing him. I guess it's not as practical for most people to do that as for me, since the doctor is about five minutes away from here. Anyway, MrsBlue and I both went to give blood, and actually specified the nurse we wanted to see, which led to us catching a dirty look from the one we call "the butcher" we were seeking to avoid. I have a feeling the next time one of us is stuck with her, we're really going to be stuck.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Blosics 3.
Moverage Games.
Links: Syfy's 16 most awesomely bad horror movie titles.
Science: The Myth of the Frozen Jeans. Thanks Boing Boing.
Images: Finish it!
Media: Here's proof that Star Wars should have been scored by AC/DC. Thanks nin.
Insane staring contest.
Garrett McNamara Sets Record: Surfer Rides 90 Foot Wave.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Funny Tweets.



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