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Thursday, Nov 17, 2011

  

Ships Ahoy - Anno 2070

Ubisoft announces the release of Anno 2070, saying the futuristic installment in the strategy series is now available via digital distribution as a standard or a deluxe edition. A launch trailer can be found on Gamer's Hell, and there's also a day one patch, which can be found on Gamer's Hell and The Patches Scrolls. A previously released playable demo offers the chance to sample the game, and here's word:

2070. Our world has changed. The rising level of the ocean has harmed the coastal cities and climate change has made large stretches of land inhospitable.

The latest in the award-winning strategy series, Anno 2070 offers a new world full of challenges, where you will need to master resources, diplomacy, and trade in the most comprehensive economic management system in the Anno series.

Enemy Front Revealed

IGN has screenshots and details for Enemy Front, an upcoming World War II shooter in the works at City Interactive. This is the project first revealed almost a year ago as being designed by Stuart Black using the CryENGINE 3, and word is it's a first- and third-person shooter in the works for release next year for Windows PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Here's more:

Enemy Front is the realistic tale of a hardened soldier dropped behind Nazi lines to engage in dynamic, diversified missions ranging from quick skirmishes, espionage assignments, and sabotage activities. The epic scope of Enemy Front spans several years and key battles as it progresses from the trenches of a desolate France right on through to Berlin and a secret weapons base. Once there, the player must thwart the plans for a terrifying weapon that will all but assure a global Nazis victory.

Enemy Front also features a complex plot that explores the notable historical threads of WWII to include the events that occurred in the Wolf's Lair and the activities that surrounded the deciphering of the Enigma code.

Magicka Free Weekend and Sale

It's a big weekend for Magicka on Steam, as the full version of Arrowhead Studios' action/adventure can be played for free between now and Sunday at 4:00 pm Eastern Time. For those who get hooked, the game and all its DLC are on sale between now and Monday at 1:00 pm EST for 75 percent off. Finally, there's this The Stars Are Left Video Q&A where Johan Pilestedt and Shams Jorjani discuss the game's upcoming The Stars Are Left expansion. Continue here to read the full story.

SEGA Acquires Three Rings

The Three Rings Website announces SEGA's acquisition of the developer of Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights:

Today brings to a close a ten year journey as an independent developer, and opens a new chapter for the studio as a part of the SEGA family. As many of you know, SEGA and Three Rings partnered to launch Spiral Knights, building a deep trust and mutual respect over the past year.

SEGA and Three Rings are committed to our existing games: no change in service or development is currently planned to any of our titles, including Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights. Again, for the benefit of our players who may be concerned, we do not foresee any untoward changes to your player experience.

SEGA is also excited to be collaborating with us and the BBC to bring Doctor Who: Worlds in Time to completion. In particular, SEGA has a very strong presence in the UK, and many SEGA folks there are great fans of the show.

Origin/EA Bans Follow-up

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a follow-up on recent reports of game bans in EA games resulting from forum activity. They have a statement from EA covering why players get banned, and their plan to reevaluate how this operates:

With every game and service EA offers, we take the satisfaction of our customers very seriously. We discourage cheating and strive to maintain a high level of integrity in both our games and our forums. Therefore when someone violates our Terms of Service, we are forced to take actions that can include suspensions and other measures. We do not take those decisions lightly – however the integrity of our services and the satisfaction of our customers requires a clear set of rules.

We have listened to our customers and are planning a policy update which will include more equitable rules on suspensions – we want to make sure the time fits the crime. As with all technology updates, these changes take some time to implement. Meanwhile, we urge any user with a question about suspensions or our policies to please contact us at (866) 543-5435 so we can address their specific situation.

DC Universe Online Getting Flashy

The DC Universe Online Website announces Lightning Strikes, the upcoming second DLC pack for the superhero MMORPG. The pack will introduce electricity powers and a new adventure starring The Flash. "In this DLC pack, fans have the opportunity to immerse themselves in another great character and action-packed story from the DC Universe," said Jens Andersen, Creative Director for DC Universe Online. "With exciting gameplay, a new power set and new locations to share with your friends, we packed a whole new kind of fun into this DLC pack and are eager for our players to dive into another legendary adventure." Here's more:

Lightning Strikes offers players a new story-driven adventure that offers up even more of the intense and fast-paced combat that distinguishes DC Universe Online, a game focused on superhero combat set in locations where gamers can showcase over-the-top powers in epic battles. The Flash adds another legendary superhero for players to battle against or alongside on their journey to becoming the next legend.

DC Universe Online's Lightning Strikes DLC pack will be accessible for free for all of the game's Legendary players and available for purchase for $9.99 USD for all Free and Premium players from the PlayStation® Network Store, through the in-game Marketplace and on the PC from the DCUniverseOnline.com website.

Serious Sam 3: BFE Trailer

A new trailer from Serious Sam 3: BFE shows off "blood and guts" in Croteam's upcoming first-person shooter prequel. The title says it all, as it is filled with what Alex DeLarge would call the red, red kroovy. Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Girl with a Heart of

Bent Spoon Games announces the release of Girl with a Heart of for Windows PC, OS X, iOS, and Android, offering an indie title referred to as an "experimental interactive narrative." Here's word:

Beneath the planet's surface, you have to cast aside your assumptions. Darkness is not your enemy, but Light's army is about to reduce your town to ash. In this 2D interactive narrative, take the role of Raven, an eleven year old girl, who learns that she is the key piece in stopping the inevitable destruction of her town. Now, she has to understand the unfolding events, struggle to solve the challenges facing her, and define herself through difficult choices that will have far-reaching consequences. As Raven, you will interact with multiple interesting characters, explore a beautiful fantasy world, make lasting decisions, learn Dark magic, and, if you are clever enough, gain infinite power.

New Via Digital Distribution

On Sale

Target's biggest Black Friday 2011 deals and Dead Rising 2, Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 5 Now Cheaper on PC.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Good Old Games Adding Good New Games

GOG.com announces plans to expand their DRM-free offerings with newer games. "GOG.com has been performing very well the last three years, as we've mentioned previously both at CD Projekt conferences and at venues like the London Games Conference last week," GOG.com Managing Director Guillaume Rambourg told a gathering of investors and journalists. "We have an audacious plan for the next two years to continue GOG.com's success story, and that depends on three things." Here's word on their plans:

"First, we will be adding newer games into the catalog in 2012. Traditionally, GOG.com has looked for great classics that are three years old or older. We will continue to add classic games, of course, but we are actively working to sign newer titles now. Of course, these new titles will have to come at a new, higher price point, but our key focus will always be on the same core values that have made GOG.com great so far: completely DRM-free games, flat prices everywhere in the world, and extra content and goodies for our fantastic customers.

"Second, the consistent growth that GOG.com has had since we launched in 2008 has been a great success story. We've been profitable since our first month, and the fact that we've come from nowhere to bring over a million classic gamers to our website every month and over six million games downloaded proves that gamers want an alternative to the usual digital distributors. We want to continue this growth, and we have a plan for this: more than 400 products in our catalog by the end of 2012, combined with new partners, more franchises, and continued improvements to make GOG.com a better website will help us achieve this goal.

"Finally, we want to work closely with ambitious developers and independent publishers who feel a kinship with that 'good old spirit' that GOG.com embodies. Thanks to the commercial success of The Witcher 2 on GOG.com, more and more people realize that our values are universal. They are coming to GOG and asking if we can carry their titles. We’ve made GOG.com the destination for classic PC games, but now is the time to take this to the next level and emerge as the best alternative digital distribution platform for all PC games.”

MechWarrior Online Using CryENGINE 3

The MechWarrior Online Website announces this upcoming multiplayer BattleTech game will use Crytek's CryENGINE 3. "Working with CryENGINE is a true pleasure," said Russ Bullock, president of Piranha Games. "It is definitely the best choice for us: Both the character animation pipeline with the procedurally and physics based animations and the destruction system fit our goals perfectly and allow us to develop a truly unique AAA experience based on the award-winning BattleTech Universe." The announcement also outlines the "four distinct pillars" of the game:

  • Mech Warfare, the embodiment of Mech to Mech combat
  • Role Warfare, the ability for player’s to customize their experience to suit their own style of gameplay
  • Community Warfare, the ability to let the players take part in epic combat for territorial control
  • Information Warfare, an element on the battlefield that incorporates information technology to help control the fight

Torchlight II Delayed

An update from Travis Baldree on the Torchlight II website informs us that Torchlight II is delayed (thanks Gamer's Hell via Joystiq). Runic Games' action/RPG sequel was announced for release in Spring 2011 before being pushed back to "sometime in 2011," so this indicates we should expect the game next year. While he doesn't specify exactly when, he does say: "The amount of time we need to take it the rest of the way is relatively small," but this probably makes them regret Max Schaefer's comment that Runic would probably release Torchlight 3 before Blizzard releases Diablo III. Here's the statement:

"So... where is Torchlight 2? Didn't you guys say that you were planning to try to release this year?"

Well, yeah. We did - and we made a good run at that. We've come to the realization, however, that getting a game of this scope up to the quality and polish level we want to achieve is going to take a little longer; especially since we want to run a small beta before release to ensure that our launch is smooth.

The first Torchlight was released in record time, but it had plenty of issues that a little more development could have resolved. We didn't have the resources at the time to give Torchlight that treatment. Right at this moment though, we do have those resources for the sequel, and we feel strongly that we should apply them to make this the best game we can make and hopefully one that you'll enjoy and continue to want to play in the future. We've probably had 18 months of full development time on it so far - not excessively long yet, as far as that goes. The amount of time we need to take it the rest of the way is relatively small.

We feel pretty safe in saying that if you enjoyed Torchlight at all, this sequel is superior in every respect. Right now our job is to ensure that the quality level is consistent all the way to the end.

Besides, you're all playing Skyrim right now anyway, aren't you? Or Battlefield 3? Or Uncharted 3? Or Saints Row 3? Or Arkham City? Or Skyward Sword? Or Minecraft? Or Modern Warfare 3? Or Dark Souls? Or Assassin's Creed Revelations?

Those are awesome games. When Torchlight 2 goes live, we want it to be awesome too - all the way through.

Max Payne 3 Trailer

Rockstar Games now offers a new trailer for Max Payne 3, kicking off a new series on the design and technology in the upcoming third-person shooter sequel. Word is: "The Design and Technology Video Series offers a detailed look at the targeting mechanics, movement and animation, enemy intelligence and other technical design innovations going into building an advanced, intense and immersive action-shooter with Max Payne 3." Continue here to read the full story.

Splash Damage's Next Game "One of the Biggest American Pop Culture Brands"

A story on IndustryGamers on seven U.K. studios offers an interesting statement about the next project from Brink developer Splash Damage (thanks VG247):

You know Splash Damage from Brink, an online multiplayer shooter that saw limited success earlier in the year. But at a time when Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are going head-to-head, it feels like the product of another age.

After its release there was some cruel chatter that Splash Damage might go the way of Bizarre or Black Rock, split apart after an expensive failure. However, being independent, the company has managed to sign at least one unannounced project for a major entertainment brand. The online multiplayer technology is already in place, and once a collection of well-known characters are laid over the top of an even more polished Brink engine there's going to be a lot of excitement from genre fans.

The game will be based on one of the biggest American pop culture brands of the last 50 years, and there's no doubt Splash Damage can do the licence justice. However, the project's success will depend a great deal on the backing it gets from the media company that owns the IP – a company widely believed to have given up on the console publishing business.

More Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Records

Activision announces Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has established a new entertainment record by grossing over $775 million worldwide in five days. They say the military shooter sequel represents the best-selling video game launch of all time at each of the top-five retailers in North America and is has set a new Xbox LIVE record with 3.3 Million unique online players in a single day:

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 has shattered theatrical box office, book and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell-through in dollars. The game established an all-new five-day worldwide sell-through record of more than $775 million, exceeding the record of $650 million set a year ago by Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops and $550 million two years ago for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 2, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information..

"With $775 million of sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in its first five days, Call of Duty has become the first entertainment property in history to set five-day launch records for three consecutive years across all forms of entertainment," said Robert Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. "Life-to-date retail sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded $6 billion worldwide, which makes Call of Duty one of the most valuable entertainment properties in the world. We expect continued sales momentum, as reviews and audience enthusiasm suggest that this is the best Call of Duty game that we have ever made. Online play for Modern Warfare 3 is at record levels and we continue to see high online play for both Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which ranked as the #2 and #4 top-played Xbox LIVE games for the week of November 7, according to Major Nelson."

Nordic Games Acquires DreamCatcher

Nordic Games GmbH announces the acquisition of DreamCatcher Games, saying the deal includes the entire product and brand portfolio of the Canadian label. This represents a reunion of sorts, as DreamCatcher was acquired by JoWooD in 2006, and earlier this year Nordic Games acquired JoWooD, following the insolvency of the Austrian publisher. The announcement notes that DreamCatcher was also insolvent, which explains the announcement earlier this year that SpellForce 2 - Faith in Destiny was indefinitely delayed, though plans for the expansion are not mentioned in the announcement:

Vienna, Austria, 17th November 2011: Nordic Games GmbH, part of the Nordic Games Holding AB group, announces the acquisition of the entire product- and brand-portfolio of DreamCatcher, including, but not limited to Painkiller, Safecracker, and more than 50 other intellectual properties (IPs) and licenses.

Aside from “JoWooD” and “The Adventure Company”, “DreamCatcher” will become the third publishing label within Nordic Games GmbH, with the plan to re-launch the extensive back catalogue of games and further expand on the wholly owned IPs and licences .

Basic business operations will be handled from Vienna, Austria, whereas Nordic Games is currently in negotiations with North American companies regarding the distribution and marketing of products.

Continue here to read the full story.

Linux Desura Client

Digital distributor Desura now offers a new client that supports Linux PCs as well as Windows. Word is: "After a 2 month beta period, Desura a digital distribution client which supports the installation and patching of games on any Linux distribution has launched. With this release Desura is the only client which works on both Windows and Linux systems, enabling games to be installed with a click."

Magicka Patched, The Stars are Left Trailer

The Paradox Interactive Forums have details on a "massive tech update" for Magicka paving the way for The Stars are Left, the upcoming expansion for the magickal action/adventure. Word is: "Any players who have purchased Magicka will receive, at no charge, this much-asked for update, which adds the ability to resume game progress from check points instead of starting over at the beginning of a chapter, incorporates the ability to revisit previously completed chapters, and, for the soloists, adds a fairy familiar that will revive players when they perish during campaign mode." They also offer a new The Stars Are Left gameplay trailer. Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

Kotaku - Innovation Has Never Been the Cornerstone of the Video Game Industry.
Bottom line is this: innovation has never been the strong suit of the video game industry. Yes, there are probably a number of innovative game titles, both past and present, that could be noted here, but for almost every one of them a dozen clones that followed could be noted while other "innovations" were actually just clones of a previous concept themselves.

This doesn't mean these games aren't fun. I don't play Call of Duty for innovations, I play it because I can play with or against almost anyone on my Xbox Live friends list at any time. It's ok that the basic structure doesn't change all that much, but at the same time each edition has different timing, weapons, level-ups and the like to keep me having to learn.

Men of War: Vietnam Patches

New patches are now available for Men of War: Vietnam, updating the latest installment in this military real-time strategy series. There are patches for the English and German editions on Gamer's Hell and patches for the English, German, and Russian editions on The Patches Scrolls. Word is the game addresses synchronization of various versions in multiplayer, makes the U.S.A. campaign available from the start, and fixes some errors in unit names.

Supreme Ruler Cold War Patch

A new patch is now available for Supreme Ruler Cold War, updating BattleGoat's strategy game to version 7.2.2. The patch is available on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls, and here's a change list: Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I mentioned my medical check-up yesterday, which was fine, I received a clean bill-of-health. Unfortunately, when I was done, my car would not start, as the battery was dead. The good news is that I have roadside assistance (or in this case parking lot assistance) through my Verizon phone. The bad news is that is spite of being within walking distance of a couple of garages, it took well over an hour for help to arrive. I'm not sure if that's par for the course or not, but it seemed like too long, and if I had it to do over again I would have just walked to one of the nearby shops for help in spite of the rain.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Pixel Quest: The Lost Idols.
Links: 5 Personality Flaws Skyrim Forces You To Deal With.
Portal Bookends Now Available!.
Writer recalls life with Blue Man Group. Thanks BMMB.
Stories: Detroit wants to disinvite Nickelback from its Thanksgiving game. Thanks DragoonXD.
Comedy Central Renews ‘South Park’ For Three More Seasons Through 2016.
Images: The Greatest games. Together at last.
Boba Fett Meets My Little Pony.
Media: Siri Argument. NSFW.
Nothing beats an 80s ad.
Lady Thwarts Robbery Through Her CCTV.
The Funnies: The Seven Deadly Sins of Gaming.
Dilbert.
Follow-up: Superman Collection Thief Collects Six Years. Thanks TDW Geeks.



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