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Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 George Washington's Birthday

  

Victoria II: A House Divided Demo; Contest

A playable demo is now available for Victoria II: A House Divided, offering the chance to sample this strategy expansion focused on the American Civil War. On a related note, this forum post outlines how to qualify to win one out of two Paradox Complete Bundles on Steam by writing an after-action report. The demo is available from AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Frictional Plans: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Revealed

The Games Section on the Frictional Games Website now has a blurb for an "Unannounced project 2" in addition to the Next Frictional Game they recently teased (thanks MajorD). There are even fewer details about this second unannounced project than the first one, which we at least know is Amnesia-related. On a related note, Joystiq has details on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, an upcoming collaboration between Frictional Games and thechineseroom (Dear Esther), though it's not clear if this is Unannounced project 2 or something else. Here's a bit:

Set in 1899, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs follows the "wealthy industrialist" Oswald Mandus, who has returned home from "a disastrous expedition to Mexico, which has ended in tragedy." Struck by a destructive fever, Mandus is haunted by dreams of a dark machine until he mysteriously regains consciousness. Months have passed, unbeknownst to the industry tycoon, and as he emerges from his slumber the roaring engine of a mysterious machine sputters to life.

Serious Sam 3 Linux Dedicated Server

Steam News announces the availability of a new automatic patch for Serious Sam 3: BFE, Croteam's first-person shooter prequel. Included is a Linux version of the game's dedicated server for those interested in providing some penguin-powered mayhem. Here's the full change list for the new version: Continue here to read the full story.

Battlefield 3 Weapon Tweaks Planned

A post on symthic.com has a preliminary list of weapon tweaks planned for an upcoming patch for Battlefield 3, DICE's military shooter sequel. The list goes into incredible detail, but is said to be subject to change. Thanks BF3blog.

EVE Online Plans Outlined

A new EVE Insider Dev Blog invokes Nietzsche to introduce a presumably nihilistic update on near-future plans for EVE Online. The update outlines the success of the Crucible update for CCP's MMORPG, and what will lead to the release of the upcoming EVE Online: Inferno expansion. They say more on Inferno will be unveiled in the coming months, including a showing at next month's EVE Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Company of Heroes for OS X Next Month

Aspyr Media announces a March 1st release date for the OS X edition of Company of Heroes, Relic's World War II real-time strategy game, saying it will be available worldwide in English, French, or German as a boxed retail game as well as by digital distribution. "We're incredibly pleased to be bringing such a deep and rich real-time strategy experience to the Mac. Company of Heroes is amongst the highest-rated games of all time, and now Mac users will get to play all the single player campaigns from the series from beginning to end," said Michael Rogers, President of Aspyr Media.

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Into the Black

BlackSpace Revealed

The PixelFoundry Website reveals plans for BlackSpace, an upcoming "unique form of real-time strategy, combining elements of action with an emphasis on economic and defensive efficiency" (thanks VG247). PixelFoundry is an indie developer formed by Volga Aksoy and Jerry Phaneuf, both of whom were previously at EA Sports Tiburon. Here's a teaser trailer, and here's a bit on the game:

BlackSpace, is a unique form of real-time strategy, combining elements of action with an emphasis on economic and defensive efficiency. Players will find themselves on the outskirts of explored space, harvesting minerals, and supplying markets, while using the resources around them to sustain their operations as well as the lives of the colonist workers.

The game takes place on X class asteroids, players will control both surface and orbital operations with the use of a specialized low gravity operation support vehicle. The vehicle controls take skill to maneuver safely, but once mastered, it becomes an extension of the players hand, commanding base operations, pilot drilling dig sites, prospecting large and unusual mineral deposits, and if need be, supporting the bases defense.

The play space encircles the celestial body and extends into orbit. This gives the player a layered and expansive strategic platform. The unique layout serves to broaden the players ability to develop varied and personalized solutions to the environmental and defensive challenges that await them.

Continue here to read the full story.

StarCraft II Patch

New patches are now available for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty to update Blizzard's real-time strategy sequel to version 1.4.3. Mirrors of some or all of the localized Windows and OS X patches can be found on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls. The change log has all the details.

Guild Wars 2 Beta Signups

ArenaNet announces they are accepting signups on this page to participate in upcoming Guild Wars 2 beta testing events. The bad news is the site seems to be suffering under the load from this, but the good news is they are accepting applications for the next 48 hours, which will hopefully provide sufficient opportunity for everyone to sign up. Word is this is for "one of the upcoming Guild Wars 2 beta events," and signups close at 18.00 GMT on Friday. They also explain: "These special closed beta events are open to invited players only. Everything you see in the game is still confidential, so we’ll require you to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in order to play." They say to expect a FAQ soon explaining more of what this will involve.

Borderlands 2 in September

A new trailer from Borderlands 2 offers more of a look a the stylized cel-shaded graphics and well-armed gameplay from Gearbox Software's upcoming role-playing shooter sequel. The clip is called a launch trailer, which is actually premature, something we can now say with certainly, since it reveals the release dates for the game, saying it's due for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in North America on September 18th, and internationally on September 21st. Continue here to read the full story.

Tribes: Ascend Beta Opens Friday

Hi-Rez Studios announces that the closed beta testing of Tribes: Ascend will be opened to all comers on Friday, offering the chance for anyone who is interested to check out the upcoming multiplayer first-person shooter. Players will be able to create accounts on the Tribes Ascend Website on Friday at 17:00 GMT and download and play the game at that time with no beta key, and they are gearing up for new players with expanded capacity in North America, Europe, and Australia, and new local servers in Brazil and Asia. A new patch for the game is going live this week with the following changes:

  • New gametype, Arena Deathmatch, with two initial maps
  • New Capture The Flag map, Temple Ruins
  • New Team Deathmatch map, Inferno
  • Two new unlockable items for the Soldier class: Proximity Grenade and Utility Pack
  • New default suits for Doombringer and Brute
  • Ability to view either Blood Eagle or Diamond Sword skins from Class menu
  • Service supporting Name Change
  • Large number of bug-fixes and balance adjustments.

Tim Schafer on Double Fine's Kickstart

An interview on VentureBeat talks with Double Fine's Tim Schafer about the company's phenominally successful Kickstarter campaign. He talks about their surprise at all the cash this has raked in, the prospects of having TV cameras document early development of the game the campaign is funding, and his outlook on how their campaign may or may not impact the traditional game publishing paradigm:

“I think people have asked, ‘Is this a game changer? Is this going to revolutionize game production? Are the publishers doomed?’ And I don’t think it’s that extreme, but I also think when people dismiss it as just a one-off deal that only Double Fine could have done — and it only could be done once — I think that’s not true either,” he said. “I think as long as someone else comes up with a similar story, whether it’s a game or not — just the right project, the right person making it, the right time, and a reason why only something like Kickstarter could fund it — I think you could have another explosive funding project on your hands.”

“I think it’s a great way for a lot of projects, games or not games, to be made whenever the ‘gatekeepers’ — the big companies that decide what gets made and what doesn’t get made — are not serving certain segments of the fan base,” he added. “And enough of those fans can use the Internet to coordinate and kind of pool their resources. They can make it happen for themselves instead of waiting for these gatekeepers to do it.”

Schafer says it’s the relationship between creators and backers that makes the Kickstarter process interesting. “Instead of making a game and risking all your money and hoping the fans show up, here the fans are showing up at the beginning. So the risk is over and they’re paying for the game in advance, essentially. And what that requires is just a lot of trust and faith that we’ve built up doing this for 10 years with Double Fine and 10 years before that with LucasArts. Hopefully, we’ve built up enough trust where they feel like I’m gonna do my best to deliver something worthwhile to them.”

Homefront Ultimate Edition Next Month

Eurogamer has word that the Homefront Ultimate Edition that was revealed last month will be released on March 23rd in Europe for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The bundle includes Kaos Studios' first-person shooter, its two map packs, and more.

Wargame - European Escalation Trailer

The Wargame - European Escalation Website now offers a new launch trailer from this real-time strategy game in the works at Eugen Systems. Word is: "Thanks to this impressive one minute and a half video, fully realized with gameplay sequences, players can live the last hours before the terrible war that is about to begin in the heart of Europe on the 23rd of February. Intense sequences carry the ever increasing tension that rages on the continent." Continue here to read the full story.

Signal Ops Interview

An interview on TechZwn chats with Josh Enes of Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation about Signal Ops, their upcoming stealth game. They talk about their unusual user interface, their take on stealth gaming, humorous elements, their gameplay-centric focus, and more.

Op Ed

Forbes - The WGA's Baffling Video Game Writing Award.
This isn’t to say that Uncharted 3 isn’t a good game. It’s an absolute blast, and even if the gameplay has gotten a bit repetitive over the years, it’s definitely one of the better PS3 titles of the year. The action sequences are beautifully orchestrated, and horseback chases and sinking cruise ships create some incredibly memorable moments.

But to say that Uncharted had the best script of the year would be like giving the equivalent Oscar statue to Journey to the Center of the Earth 2, or something similar. Pithy one-liners and fictionalized history may be mildly amusing, but is it really the best video game script out there?

Morning Screenshots

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Out of the Blue

With Mardi Gras wrapped up, today is Ash Wednesday, kicking off Lent. I think you are supposed to give up bad habits and such for Lent, but I'm a fairly moderate person to start with, so I don't have many obvious prospects. Maybe I should give up some of my restraint? Guess that's cheating.

Restrained Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Rupert's Zombie Diary.
The Lord of the Rings Family Tree Project. Thanks Neatorama.
Links: The World’s Worst Airport Terminals.
Stories: Animal rights group says drone shot down. Thanks Slashdot.
Denver family stranded after passport denied because of crease. Thanks Slashdot.
Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male.
Media: Can You Type Faster than Freddie Wong?
Robotic Air Guitar.
Triple Fetch.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Funny Tweets Twaggies.

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012

ShootMania Storm This Year; Screenshots; Previews

The ShootMania Storm Website offers the first six screenshots from Nadeo's upcoming first-person shooter, along with word to expect its release this year, as they say: "ShootMania Storm is coming out this year! A fast paced FPS where players like you are given the central stage. Come to enjoy the pure online madness in 1v1 or team based battles. You decide what you want to play, and if it is not available, it's up to you to create it and show the ManiaPlanet gaming network what you are all about. For fun or competition, Storm will be out soon to bring you thrilling games!" There are English-language previews on Eurogamer, IGN, and PC Gamer, and this forum thread has links to previews in other languages. Thanks Frans.

NA AION Going Free-to-Play

NCsoft announces that AION is going free-to-play in North America, a move many have expected since the free-to-play era for the European version of the MMORPG was announced. There are details about this on The AION: Ascension Website, were they say: "In Aion's Truly Free model, players have unrestricted access to all content from level 1-60, no strings attached! Aion Truly Free is a key aspect of Aion: Ascension™, which also contains the Aion 3.0 content update. A plethora of new experiences await, including new zones, increased level cap, mounts, and housing, all of which is also Truly Free!" As for the business model, they say: "If you like the game, we'd appreciate a purchase from our store (game developers need to eat too!). If you don't like the game, can't pay, or don't want to pay—no worries, it's on us!" Here's more:

Here are some of the key features of Aion Truly Free:

  • No subscription fee. Play for free!
  • No account restrictions. Visit any zone, chat in any channel, sell any amount of stuff on the trade broker—nothing is off limits!
  • Robust countermeasures to combat game abuse. We're dedicating a ton of resources to preventing account theft, botting, and real money trading.
  • No hassles. Create your account, download the game, and play!
  • No harassment. Don't worry, we won't hound you with constant offers or promotions.
  • A lot of great stuff we'll reveal more about leading up to launch!

Telepath RPG: Servants of God Patch

Sinister Design now offers a new patch for Telepath RPG: Servants of God, updating this action/RPG to version 1.813.This offers some changes and bug fixes as well as an all-new nightmare difficulty mode.

New Via Digital Distribution

On Sale

  • AI War: Fleet Command on Steam. Save 66%.
  • Cities XL 2012 on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Games on GOG.com. Buy one get one free.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Digital Premium Edition on Amazon.com. Save 63%.

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Into the Black

Link of the Day: Kinect-ing With The Stars.

Sins of a Dark Age Announced

Following a countdown to the announcement, the Sins of a Dark Age Website is now online, revealing Ironclad's next project as a free-to-play "strategy hybrid focused on team-based 'Hero and Commander Strategy' gameplay" to launch this year. As the name implies, Sins of a Dark Age blends 4x with real-time strategy in the manner of Sins of a Solar Empire. The website offers a welcome message, a Dev of a Dark Age diary, and this announcement. Here's a bit:

MONTREAL – February 21, 2012 – Looming grey clouds crowd the endless sky. Bitter winds and the smell of damp earth do little to mask the pungent stench rising from the blanket of blood stretched across the lifeless valley. Armies of men and beast lay piled high, a twisted mass of spikes and flesh; steam from their bodies still climbing the sheer rocky cliffs. All that remains standing is a monstrous machine of war and four heroic silhouettes honoring their victorious commander. Today’s battle is over, but the war has just begun.

Ironclad Games presents a real-time fantasy strategy experience like no other: Sins of a Dark Age. From the studio that brought forth the genre-blending gem and 2008 PC Game of the Year, Sins of a Solar Empire, comes a new strategy hybrid focused on team-based “Hero and Commander Strategy” gameplay.

In Sins of a Dark Age, players join an online team consisting of one Commander and a small group of Heroes who work together to accomplish a specific scenario goal. Go head-to-head against an enemy team in a short, fast-paced multiplayer match or work cooperatively against the AI in custom scenarios. Earn rewards for yourself and your clan, climb in ranks, and watch and share your most glorious replays. Players can choose from an ever-growing pool of heroes, commanders and factions each of which supports unique capabilities.

Spec Ops: The Line in June; Preorder Bonuses

The Spec Ops: The Line Website now offers a new June 26, 2012 release date for Spec Ops: The Line, Yager Games' upcoming third-person shooter. That is the North American date for the Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 editions, which will be available internationally on June 29th. This accompanied by a new video, as well as a free upgrade to the FUBAR Pack Premium Edition:

  • Twice the amount of experience points will be awarded during the first week of play, enabling gamers to expedite character ranking;
  • The AK-47 weapon will unlock at rank one;
  • The “Officer Class” will unlock at rank one. This character class includes several team-based advantages, such as reducing damage to teammates and increasing the effectiveness of other classes;
  • Access to the “FUBAR Pack,” which contains exclusive accessories allowing players to customize their characters with unique and visually distinctive items.

MechWarrior Tactics Announced

The countdown has now concluded on the MechWarrior Tactics Website, revealing the announcement of this upcoming BattleTech game that looks to offer "everything you love about MechWarrior," with a combination of "turn-based strategy and blends tactical gameplay, deep collectability, and unique online features" when it launches sometime this year. Here's some concept art and here's a feature list:

  • Collect, Customize, Command:
    • Earn Experience and new resources as you advance your level through gameplay
    • Upgrade and customize your Mechs in your Mech Bay
    • Make the most of each Mech’s unique configuration for total battlefield domination
  • Customizable Mechs – seamless store integration means never having to leave the game to purchase and equip new resources for your next mission
  • Asynchronous Combat: Multiple concurrent battles with players from around the world
  • Competitive ranked games and global leaderboards lets the world know you’re in charge. Play for a chance to win larger, more meaningful reward payouts
  • Watch and share your completed battle using a unique cinematic replay feature

The site is accepting registrations to reserve commander names

The Secret World Delayed

Funcom announces a new June 19th, 2012 launch date for The Secret World, their conspiracy-themed MMOG most recently planned for release in April. "Allowing for even more time to polish the game really shows just how much faith Funcom as a company has in 'The Secret World' and how committed we are to making it the best it can be," says Funcom's Ragnar Tørnquist. "The additional time will also allow us to carry out even more quality beta testing, and soon we will also be announcing several public beta events where hundreds of thousands of gamers will get to test the game prior to launch." Here's the meat of the announcement:

Feedback from hands-on press events and beta testing has proven very positive, and Funcom intends to spend the additional development time focusing on polish and tweaking to maximize the potential of the game. The beta feedback so far is showing very positive reactions to core game features such as the role-playing systems, combat, missions, dungeons, story and immersion. Among the beta testers surveyed, almost 9 out of 10 say they will play the game at launch.

More than 750,000 gamers are now registered as beta testers, which is significantly higher than Funcom’s previous MMO ‘Age of Conan’ had at the same point in development. Funcom expects the number of beta registrations to grow significantly in the coming months, as the company ramps up its major PR and marketing initiatives towards launch.

Retro City Rampage PC Plans

The Retro City Rampage Website reveals plans for a Windows version of this game that was previously only announced for consoles (thanks Joystiq). They are accepting preorders of the PC edition of the IGF finals runner-up, and offer a new trailer showing off its throwback gameplay. Here's a bit on the game:

RETRO CITY RAMPAGE lets you play as THE PLAYER. Take the wheel with five-finger discounts on over 30 vehicles and wield over 20 weapons that will make you say "WHOA"! Run down innocent pedestrians to hear the magnificent monophonic modulated sounds. Order a pint of "SOUR MILK" from the barkeep to make yourself sick and avoid taking responsibility for your actions. At some point, defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS then relax and go do it, when you want an ICED TEA.

Star Supremacy Expansion Next Week

Star Supremacy announces Wrath of the Galaxy General, a new expansion coming next week to the space-based MMORTS game. They list 18 different new features this will add, which are reproduced here for your perusal: Continue here to read the full story.

J.U.L.I.A. Next Month

Publisher Lace Mamba Global announces a March 2nd retail release date for the U.K. and Irish release of J.U.L.I.A., saying this will also be the date when CBE Software's upcoming adventure game will be available worldwide via digital distribution. J.U.L.I.A. is a science fiction-themed adventure exploring this concept: "In the year 2430, Rachel Manners, a 35 year old astrobiologist and member of an elite group of scientists, which is sent off in a giant space ship to mankind’s most exciting space mission: to explore the first ever discovered extra-terrestrial life-forms."

Activision Denies Blacklisting

Following up on a report last week from a French website claiming to have been uninvited from an event by Activision over reporting a Black Ops 2 rumor, VentureBeat has word from Activision that this is a "misunderstanding," saying: "Activision doesn’t blacklist journalists. We believe this was a misunderstanding and are working towards a resolution." Thanks GamesIndustry.biz (registration required).

World of Tanks Mobile App

WoT on the iTunes App Store offers a new mobile application for World of Tanks, Wargaming.net's MMOTPS. The free app allows you to view in-game screenshots and videos, and those who register for World of Tanks by using it will receive a free three-day premium account for the game.

ROCCAT Studios PC Countdown

Isn't PC Gaming Dead? is a new website from peripheral maker ROCCAT Studios attempting to capitalize on PC gamers' emotions to promote something they will unveil in a couple of weeks. Word is: "With all the talk lately, you'd think PC gaming was over. Some say PC gaming isn't dead, but think they need to breathe life into it now and them with yet another "groundbreaking" reinventions. But is all that necessary?" The last such tease was from RAZER during the summer which turned out to be for a laptop. ROCCAT's site offers a countdown that looks like it will expire two weeks from today, so that's when we can expect this mystery to be solved. In the meantime there's a "shoutbox" showing comments on this (on an iPhone screen of all places). Thanks pcGameware.

New WHQL-Certified GeForce Drivers

The GeForce Website now offers new version 295.73 WHQL-certified GeForce reference drivers for NVIDIA GPUs. Word is: "Recommended for all GeForce users, these drivers include the numerous game-changing, NVIDIA-exclusive improvements that have been introduced with our recent betas, plus a few other treats too." They outline specific improvements for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Diablo III Beta, Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and more.

Be Mine Indie Bundle

Groupees offers the "Be Mine" game and music bundle, another bundle of independent games marketed directly to consumers at a flexible price rate. 20% of all donations for this go to the Child's Play charity, and the bundle includes Xotic, Sideway New York, Wasteland Angel, Beep, and The Ball. There are three thresholds for additional bonuses, the first has been achieved, so all recipients will also get three Xotic DLC packs and a copy of Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals. If they reach $100K in sales, additional games and soundtracks will be added, and there's a "mystery bonus" to be had if they meet a third goal, which is not disclosed. Thanks Sharon.

Morning Previews

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Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

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etc.

Thanks Ant.

Out of the Blue

Happy Mardis Gras, as today is Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday! I'm all set with my floral shirt, booze bottles, and a huge pile of beads to throw off the balcony. Trouble is, it's completely dead out there. Maybe I should have gone to New Orleans for this. Or at least I should have left the BlueTower.

Fat Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Super Mario Crossover 2.
Stinger Zed: Mission Undead.
Science: New Life, From an Arctic Flower That Died 32,000 Years Ago. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Airbag Saves Skier's Life in Deadly Washington Avalanche. Thanks Roger.
Ants remember their enemy's scent.
Media: The Horrible Secret Behind Starter Pokemon.
Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Ultimate Ping Pong.
The Funnies: Funny Tweets.
I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened - The Oatmeal. Thanks nin.



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