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Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012

  

Spaceships Ahoy - SOL: Exodus

Seamless Entertainment announces the release of SOL: Exodus, saying the space shooter is now available via Steam. Here's word on the game:

By the year 2500, Earth had become toxic and unsafe for human life. Pollution and overpopulation had ravaged the planet, forcing humanity to the stars. Colonies and settlements soon sprung up across the solar system, but man had not left its thirst for war behind. Then, they learned their sun was dying, and everything changed. Only when faced with threat greater than each other did the nations of man finally come together. The United Colonies of SOL (UCS) was born, its first and only mission: to locate a new home for mankind, safely beyond the doomed borders of our solar system.

Suit up and take on the role of the Lieutenant Commander, ace fighter pilot and 2nd in command of the UCS Atlas, as you search for a new home, battle a mysterious enemy, and rescue humanity from a fiery end.

Key features:

Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Star Prospector

GameStop/Impulse now offers digital distribution of Star Prospector, a new space real-time strategy game with RPG elements. Space Sector has a preview with first-hand impressions of the game, and here's a bit from its description:

Star Prospector is a single-player strategy game set in a future science fiction universe. Star Prospector mixes elements of real-time strategy and role-playing game genres resulting in a totally new & unique gaming experience. The player takes on the role of a prospector, a one-person mining, salvage, and construction unit, taking on missions on remote planets across the galaxy in search of resources, technology, and adventure. At the start of the game the player will choose their own prospecting rig, an all-purpose construction, combat, and mining vehicle that will be used throughout the game. The rig can be outfitted with a large selection of weapons and various upgrade modules. In each mission the player will be transported to a unique planet. There the player must build a base, gather resources, create units, and complete assigned mission objectives earning experience and credits. At each level of experience the player will get skill points and gain access to new units, buildings, and items.

Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Law & Order: Legacies

The Telltale Games Store now offers online sales of Law & Order: Legacies for Windows and OS X. This is a seven episode series, and episodes one through three will be available immediately upon purchase, with the rest to follow:

Law & Order: Legacies is now available for PC and Mac! Play the show as you investigate crimes and prosecute the offenders. Will you prove the suspect guilty, strike a plea bargain, or will the jury let him walk? Law & Order: Legacies features all-new stories (ripped from the headlines, of course!) and reunites your favorite characters from across the Law & Order franchise, including Rey Curtis, Lennie Briscoe, Jack McCoy, and SVU's Olivia Benson. Get the game now and play Episodes 1, 2, and 3 with Episodes 4-7 coming very soon!

Law & Order: Legacies features a brand new content delivery system that allows you to download all of the series' episodes through the game's main menu! When a new episode is available to download, you'll be notified through the game itself. You can become a Law & Order Legacies series owner for just $19.99 and get the first three suspense-filled cases immediately.

New Via Digital Distribution

On Sale

  • Oil Rush on Steam. Save 10%.
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution on Steam. Save 50%.

Evening Previews

  • Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion on GameSpy.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

New ATI/AMD Catalyst Reference Drivers

AMD now offers new version 12.1 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI/AMD GPUs. There are new drivers for 32-bit Windows Vista/Windows 7, 32-bit Windows XP, and 64-bit Windows Vista/Windows 7 as well as new Linux drivers. Also, this page features an AMD Catalyst 12.2 Preview driver Version 12.2, though this carries a warning for AMD Radeon HD 7900 users to continue using the version 8.921.2 RC11 driver found on this page.

The Lord of the Rings Online Expands This Fall

Turbine announces Riders of Rohan, a new expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online coming to the free-to-play MMORPG via digital distribution this autumn. This will carry "an increased level cap, the vast plains of Rohan including iconic locations such as Amon Hen and Fangorn Forest, the new Mounted Combat system and much more." Here's a feature list:

  • Experience the Riders of Rohan – Join with the Rohirrim and ride across the sprawling Plains of Rohan; witness the breaking of the Fellowship at Amon Hen; forge alliances with the Ents of Fangorn; and aid Éomer, adopted son of Théoden, as he seeks to protect his homeland from the growing Shadow.
  • Introducing Mounted Combat – Ride into Combat atop your loyal War-steed as you defend the people of Rohan from the forces of Isengard and Mordor. Customize your War-steed’s armor and level its skills over time to aid you in mounted defense of King Theoden’s lands. Mount your steed and gather your fellows to fight against Warbands, contingents of roving warg riders that have been scouted all over the Plains of Rohan! It falls to you to head off and defeat this new threat before they over take the land.
  • Advance to level 85 – Continue your legend in the next chapter of The Lord of the Rings Online. Experience new adventures in the epic story, and gain new skills and deeds as you face new challenges on your journey to 85!

THQ Refocuses - Open Letter

NeoGAF has a lengthy letter sent anonymously overnight to the THQ Board of Directors, and signed by "The Formerly Mismanaged," who claim to be a group of "Current and Ex-Employees, Shareholders, and The Public" (thanks Strategy Informer). The letter attempts "to explain to outsiders how this beaten-down company has wound up in this position, laying blame for sharp declines to the company's stock price at the feet of CEO Brian Farrell, and calling other executives to task by name for failures to live up to their seven-figure salaries. On a related, though perhaps coincidental note, THQ announces a realignment whereby it is "exiting its relationships with kids’ licensed entertainment companies but will continue to sell certain previously released titles." Going forward, word is: "The company will continue to build its strong portfolio of core game franchises and align its resources to deliver games on both existing consoles and new and emerging platforms. The company intends to accelerate digital revenues by extending and supporting key console launches, and to create dedicated digital properties for emerging platforms." Here's a portion of the open letter:

THQ had been known through the years for having a formula. They find a hot license, make a cheap game, barely advertise it, and make money. This formula worked during the Playstation and Xbox and Gameboy days and made the company a lot of cash. Unfortunately, THQ’s old guard executives seem to be stuck trying to manage the company the same way they did back then and haven’t realized the industry has changed.

The beginning of the end came years ago as Brian Farrell lead an executive team to acquire a large number of studios. A large amount of cash was used in the acquisition or setup of game developers with different degrees of talent. The problem was they were bought without strategic reasoning or specific plan on to use them. So after awhile another large amount of money was spent as those studios failed and were sold off and shut down. The executive team at the time were an entirely different group of people with one key exception in the CEO. The CEO/the then executive team wasted the cash that the company had built up with these massive investments and selloffs.

The studio purchase errors were not helped by the mistakes in the licensing deals that were signed by the same CEO. Millions and millions of dollars were wasted on acquiring licenses at the same time the kids, family, casual business was declining at a rapid rate. Instead of slowing those acquisitions he overpaid for more of them until again cash was wasted in paying for brands that didn’t sell well anymore.

Battle.net World Championship Announced, No BlizzCon 2012

Blizzard announces the 2012 Battle.net World Championship, a major global eSports event to take place in Asia before the end of this year, though exact details on the event's timing and location are not being supplied at this time. As a result, the next BlizzCon convention will not be held until 2013, as they say:

We’re excited to be showcasing Blizzard eSports on a truly global stage this year. We're also heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.

AVSEQ and Demo Released

The BIG ROBOT Website now offers AVSEQ, a fast-paced puzzle game that's their first commercial release. The game is available for Windows and OS X, and there's also a playable demo for each platform. This is the brainchild of journalist/developer Jim Rossignol, who grills himself on Rock, Paper, Shotgun to discuss the project. Here's a trailer, and here's a bit on the game's mathematics and music:

Ah, so now we’re getting to the origins of that strange name. AVSEQ = audio-visual sequencer. As you play through the pretty-looking visual atom-linking element of the game you also activate the sequencer grid, creating musical loops. This process is random, so each level playthrough will create a different loop, based on the grid of sounds you are able to unlock on that level. Each AVSEQ level has 2.2300745198530623×10^43 possible audio permutations, thats 22 tredecillion in total. No, honestly, that’s a real number, we looked it up.

Quoteworthy - Paradox on DRM

"No one should have to purchase a product that they’re unable to install because of the DRM. There might be other reasons, like the compatibility isn’t correct, or whatever. But people who purchase a game should have just as easy a time as those who pirate the game, otherwise it’s a negative incentive to buy a legal copy. And I just can’t see why people are using DRM still. If you take something like Sony’s DRM, SecuROM -- it’s a waste of money," says Paradox CEO Fred Wester. "It will keep you protected for three days, it will create a lot of technical support, and it will not increase sales. And I know this for a fact, because we tried it eight years ago, and it never worked for us. Two major reasons: it costs money and it makes you lose money, and the other is that it’s so inconvenient to customers."

Margaritaville Online Launches

Saddle up to the all-you-can-eat Jimmy Buffett Buffet, as THQ announces the launch of Margaritaville Online on both Facebook and iTunes App. Word is: "Friends will be able to play and party with great music and frozen concoctions in an open easy-going world, featuring exotic adventures, customized bars and outfits, and playful mini-games. A virtual trip to the tropics set to a soundtrack of classic Buffett tunes and featuring 3D visuals, Margaritaville Online allows players to interact with a wide cast of characters and exotic destinations full of fun and adventure. Margaritaville Online is a virtual playground that reminds players it's always 5 o'clock somewhere!" Watch out for pop-tops, and B.Y.O.B. (bring your own blender).

Minecraft's Information Quest

The Word of Notch offers a poll, as Mojang wants to be sure Minecraft players are okay with them collecting data before they attempt to learn more about how their game is played:

Right now, the only way we can figure out roughly what people are doing with the game is to track logins. Once you’re logged in, we have no idea what happens.

I was thinking it would be awesomely cool to add some kind of player tracking to the game. This would work by having the game connect to minecraft.net and send some anonymous and non-private data about the game, such as current game mode (single player, multiplayer), operating system (windows? mac?), how long you’ve been playing for (so we know how long a game session is), and whether or not you’re playing the downloaded game, or the applet on the webpage. It would probably connect every ten minutes or so so we can get some semi-realtime data. We’d share the data with the community, as usual.

Naturally, the data sent will be fully anonymous, so it wouldn’t contain any session information or your user name, and it wouldn’t send any sensitive information that you might not want to share.

Would you be ok with this? We’d really appreciate having that data!

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've had a couple of requests to follow-up my recent mention of looking for a new mouse. I'm still up in the air for a desktop replacement, but along the way I found a new mouse for my laptop. I ended up in a Staples, which does not cater enough to the enthusiast crowd to have a proper desktop mouse for me, but what they did have was this cool Microsoft Explorer mouse that replaces the middle button/scroll wheel with a touch-surface like a laptop touchpad. I couldn't resist checking out the gimmicky nature of this, and it is indeed pretty cool, and comes with the tiniest wireless USB dongle that can easily remain in place. There was an even more elaborate version with three such surfaces and multi-touch support, but this requires Windows 7, which I'm not using yet.

Mousey Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Hands of War Tower Defense.
Stories: The 2012 Oscar Nominations.
Sealers.
Images: TF2 Spy Clothing Ad.
Guitar Hero 4.
The “Night At The Roxbury” Guys At Sunday School.
Media: 10 Misconceptions Debunked.
Ice Hockey Rink Roof Building Collapses in Slovakia. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Very aggressive AV settings.
The Funnies: Arch Enemies.
Brevity.
Follow-up: Star Trek Apartment To Be Dismantled.



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