A recent Official Developer Update for MechWarrior Online discusses where beta testing stands for the upcoming mech combat game, saying keys for the test are being sent out, and that tomorrow they will launch a founder's program that will guarantee entrance into the beta. Piranha Games also now offers system specifications (thanks Softpedia via Zarkonis), though they also warn the minimum may be too minimal at this time:
MechWarrior Online Minimum System Spec:
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66GHz / Athlon II X2 245e
GPU: GeForce 8800GT / Radeon HD 5600/5700
RAM: 4 GB
OS: Windows Vista 32-bit
HDD Space: 4 GB
Right now a duo core system is our minimum spec machine but it is also our main focus of concern. It is playable on those specifications and I have tested it myself but it is currently very much a minimum spec type of experience running on low-detail settings. It’s obvious that a Quad core system is the key as even the earliest Core 2 Quad systems run the game very well and it is our goal (since there are still so many out there), to optimize the Core 2 Duo systems to run much faster.
The Surface by Microsoft Website introduces Microsoft's newly announced tablet PC that will presumably be their showcase for the upcoming touch-enabled Windows 8, though its most talked about feature may be the keyboard built into the 3mm-thick cover (5mm if you want clicky keys). There are live blogs of the announcement on Gizmodo and Wired, and the official press release with specs is on Kotaku, where they note the device's gaming capacity will be shown off by Skulls of the Shogun (thanks nin). Here are those specs:
Surface for Windows RT
OS: Windows RT
Light(1): 676 g
Thin(2): 9.3 mm
Clear: 10.6" ClearType HD Display
Energized: 31.5 W-h
Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Productive: Office ‘15' Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB
Surface for Windows 8 Pro
OS: Windows 8 Pro
Light(1): 903 g
Thin(2): 13.5 mm
Clear: 10.6" ClearType Full HD Display
Energized: 42 W-h
Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB
(1), (2). Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process.
Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.
This Japanese page announces plans to open beta testing of Phantasy Star Online 2 this week, according to the translation on Siliconera. Word is the closed beta of the MMORPG will go offline on Thursday to launch the open beta (which we presume is in Japanese). They say the game hosted 41,500 simultaneous players over the weekend, and is still ostensibly on track for launch this summer.
Unity Technologies announces Unity 4, unveiling details of their next game engine, which they say will provide "anyone from the most indie game designer to the biggest multinational AAA studios to develop amazing groundbreaking games, and effortlessly deploy to multiple platforms." They also announce that customers who preorder Unity 4 will be offered early access to the Unity 4 beta. Here's the announcement:
Unity Technologies, provider of the Unity multi-platform engine and development tools, is excited to announce Unity 4, the next generation of the Unity development platform. The launch of Unity 4 demonstrates the platform’s AAA push that levels the playing field between the largest and the smallest studios, enabling anyone from the most indie game designer to the biggest multinational AAA studios to develop amazing groundbreaking games, and effortlessly deploy to multiple platforms. Customers who pre-order Unity 4 will be offered early access to the Unity 4 beta.
Unity 4 includes an overhaul of the Unity engine and tools suite to accommodate critical new features such as the highly anticipated all-new Mecanim character animation system, DirectX 11 support, hypermodern mobile graphics, and the addition of Adobe® Flash® and Linux as new publishing platforms. These new features and improvements comprise the first in a series of Unity 4 releases that will empower developers with the first truly democratic AAA game engine.
An interview on Gamasutra talks with "key members" of CD Projekt RED about Cyberpunk, their upcoming sci-fi RPG. The article is subtitled: "Making a complex story more accessible," as it explores that topic. "We spent days discussing a general postmortem after we finished The Witcher 2," Adam Badowski says. "What we learned from The Witcher series is that we need to attract people with a smoother learning curve when it comes to the storyline," to which joint-CEO Marcin Iwinski adds: "And that's what we want to capture. In [Cyberpunk], we want to create a story that is very profound, but the novice players should be introduced to [the world] better than they were in The Witcher 2." They go on to discuss what this entails, and their goal of doing justice to the pen-and-paper Cyberpunk game as successfully as HBO has adapted Game of Thrones from the books upon which it is based.
Speaking of The Witcher (story above), The Witcher Website now offers a new patch for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition to update CD Projekt RED's RPG sequel to version 3.2. The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls, and the following blurb explain how some of the included changes began as a user-created modification before they hired the mod author:
You can now download the new patch for the PC version of the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. It upgrades the game to version 3.2 and modifies the UI significantly. This update is enabled by default but is optional and can disabled in Configurator DLC Menu. If you encounter problems with the automatic patching system, please download the patch manually from here (For full list of changes, also click here).
Now, if you’re thinking to yourself “These changes sound familiar”, you are right! David Block, who originally created the modification described above, now works at CD Projekt RED and is the author of this patch. Thanks to your feedback, he was able to improve some of the elements and make it even better than before.
IndieFort Bundle No. 2 on GamersGate offers a bundle of indie games at a discount price, following the newfound conventional wisdom that this is how such titles are sold. The six-plus game bundle includes 3079, Aztaka, Dark Scavenger, Demise Ascension, Fortix 2, the debut of Intrusion 2, as well as bonus content. This is offered for a minimum of $5.99 (or €4.99 or Ł3.99), and word is any extra customers choose to add to that will go directly to the developers.
The DC Universe Online Website announces that the new Last Laugh content will be available on Thursday to those with Legendary Memberships in the superhero MMORPG. The new content will go on sale in their marketplace for all other players a week after that. Here's word on what it will offer: "Dive into the Last Laugh's Player vs. Player chaos and experience the action first hand with all new Safehouse and Headquarters battles, Legends characters and maps, a new tier of PvP gear, the new weapon type, Shield, and more!" Update: This is erroneous, the early access to this package began last week, and its widespread availability begins tomorrow. Apologies for causing confusion.
This trailer offers a second video blog for Heroes & Generals, Reto-Moto's upcoming "Massive Online Strategic Shooter" (MOSS?). The clip shows beta footage of the game, which we are warned is not reflective of the quality of the finished game, but shows off the latest features in their new beta, codenamed "Bradley." The clip discusses how they've implemented community requests, and discuss the general effort towards tweaking balance. They also discuss map changes, how new players begin, weapon customization tradeoffs, and more. The gameplay footage includes combat and more, including the first time we can recall one soldier giving another a ride on a bicycle. Continue here to read the full story.
The NVIDIA Website now offers new beta version 304.48 GeForce reference drivers, the first beta from the R304 family. These offer various enhancements and fixes as well as the promise of performance improvements, saying: "Increases performance for GeForce 400/500/600 Series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 301.42 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration." There do not seem to be XP drivers, but they offer drivers for Windows 7 and Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows 7 and Windows Vista 64-bit. Thanks Charles.
DRM-free marketplace GOG.com is holding a "battle of the games" as their 2012 Summer Promo, offering a daily vote to decide which of two games will receive a larger discount when it goes on sale the following day. This begins with a faceoff between Myst: Masterpiece Edition and The 7th Guest, with the winner (Myst is currently holding a healthy lead) to be sold at tomorrow at a 60% discount and the runner-up to be offered for 40% off. This will run over the course of the next 17 games, as they pit a total of 34 games against each other.
An interview on GamesIndustry International talks with Neal Stephenson to learn why the acclaimed author of Snow Crash is seeking to Kickstart a swordfighting simulation called CLANG. He offers an interesting outlook on how games may be a better fit than movies for novelists looking to branch out: "The question posed by the rise of the game industry is whether, and how, writers can engage with that medium as well. In some respects it's a better fit, for a novelist, than film. Novelists - especially fantasy and SF novelists - tend to be world-builders, and modern gamers have come to expect not just entertaining gameplay but a fully realized world that makes the gameplay relevant to some larger story or theme. My own instincts run closer to the game world than to the film industry and so I've been thinking about how to engage with games for a while. 2012 seems like a good time to have a go at it." As for the CLANG Kickstarter, it is currently nearing 60% of its $500,000 funding goal with 20 days remaining in the campaign.
The Forge Website is online for this Unreal Engine 3 game coming to PCs this year from Dark Vale, Supergenius, and Digital Confectioners they say will offer: "An amazing blend of MMO PvP and FPS gameplay. MMO style abilities, fluid combat, instanced PvP." The site appears to have been around since April, but they are starting to open up about the game with an announcement and world fly-by trailer and a recent developer diary. There are also interviews with the developers on GameSpy and Gaming Illustrated, and the GameSpy conversation explores the comparisons to a first-person TERA:
Though design began before there was much in the way of information on TERA or other more action-oriented MMO titles, there are a lot of similarities between the two.
We're not quite first-person TERA due to a few differences. Our camera is a mixture of third-person over-the-shoulder and TERA's system, though it's not free-floating. Whatever direction your camera is facing, your character is facing.
There are other combat differences as well. Our dodge and block mechanics work quite differently, our ability system is more streamlined and accessible. That of course comes with a cost of losing some of the intricate chains and combos you can work with, but our combat system is focused on a more visceral feel. Positioning, blocking, dodging, using an ability at just the right time rather than always when available.
The Sports Mogul Website now offers online sales of Baseball Mogul 2013, the latest installment in their baseball simulation series. A playable demo is available for you to gauge whether the game is a hit or it strikes out, and the first patch for the game is already available. Word is: "A complete rewrite of the simulation engine -- combined with unprecedented tools for viewing pitch-by-pitch results and head-to-head matchups -- creates the most accurate baseball simulation ever."
There's an interesting article on Kotaku on cheating in multiplayer games, focusing on malfeasance in Battlefield 3, DICE's military shooter sequel. Well, malfeasance is our term, the article takes an almost sympathetic tone, characterizing the cheaters it specifically portrays as regular players, and relating their complex rationalizations of how they are somehow more justified than garden-variety cheaters. The article also takes a surprisingly informative approach to details on this, choosing to provide links to cheat providers, prices of various exploits, and even de facto reviews of their effectiveness.
GOG.com now offers the first couple of Worlds of Ultima games gratis on their DRM-free marketplace, saying the free editions of the Ultima spin-offs are being provided courtesy them and Electronic Arts. The games are Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire and Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams, and here's word on the sub-series: "Lord British presents two adventures you would never think are possible in Ultima universe. Players of the Ultima series may recall that the black moonstone the Avatar found at the start of Ultima 6 can be used to teleport you anyplace and anytime. That is why ORIGIN Systems have, using the Ultima 6 engine, sent the gamers worldwide on two unexpected journeys in both space and time."
There's a big sale on the Origin Store celebrating the first anniversary of the launch of EA's online store. They are offering a 40% discount on several PC digital download special editions. Also, MCV notes a Q&A from last week on GameSpot with EA's David DeMartini, who calls the service's first year "a huge success." He also offers a criticism of Origin's stickiness, saying this is something they need to address going forward. "Being self-critical of Origin, I would say it's not sticky enough. And we want to put features in place where we fully take advantage of your friends lists and gameplay activities amongst all of your friends so you can compare achievements," he says. "We want you to be able to challenge your friends, and to challenge your friends to play other EA games to try and achieve things that might even be across EA games. A lot of people are loyal to us and we need to reward them with that stickiness, so we're looking in that direction."
A new video developer's diary for Civilization V: Gods & Kings shows off Firaxis' upcoming turn-based strategy expansion, offering a new behind-the-scenes diary to show off the project before its release tomorrow. The clip features producer Dennis Shirk and lead designer Ed Beach "as they take a deeper dive into the rebuilt game systems in Gods & Kings, including the new religion, espionage, combat, and naval systems." Continue here to read the full story.
Australia's embattled R18+ legislation has successfully passed Parliament, reports Kotaku Australia, saying the bill passed without amendment. As always, comments associated with this seem to focus on reducing access to games, rather than increasing, it, but this may just be spin. "The R 18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material," says Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare. "The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law." They say the next step is for individual states to pass their own separate laws on the topic, and they say the first RA18+ games could be available in states that due so as soon as the start of next year.
The F1 Online: The Game Facebook Page announces closed beta testing of F1 Online: The Game will conclude tomorrow. They say that NDAs for testers will expire for the MMO racing game at the same time, so previews and impressions should start showing up soon. They are gearing up for next phase of testing, saying: "We look forward to welcoming you all into Open Beta!" Thanks VG247.
A Weekly Dishonored Q&A on the Bethesda Blog posted Friday offers an outlook on how much gameplay will be found in Dishonored, Arkane's upcoming stealth shooter (thanks VG247). Since it's only three questions, where's the whole shebang:
Q: How does mana work in Dishonored?
A: A small portion of the mana bar regens; just enough to use powers like Blink and Dark Vision, making them basically free. Beyond that, for the expensive powers like Possession or Bend Time, the player must rely on Piero’s Spiritual Remedy (mana potions).
Q: How many different powers will there be?
A: There are six major active powers and four enhancements (passive powers), in addition to weapons and gadgets; plus there are 40 bone charms in the game that grant small supernatural perks. But no one can have all of these things in one playthrough.
Q: How long will the game be?
A: Play-style matters a lot. Very direct players will probably get through the game in 12 or 14 hours. Explorers who eavesdrop a lot will take twice as long.
GfK Chart-Track has this week's list of the bestselling full-price PC entertainment titles in the U.K. Diablo III retains the top spot in a reshuffled top ten. Lollipop Chainsaw joins the all-platforms chart at number four while FIFA 12 regains the top spot.
Looking forward to getting back on track after a crazy weekend. I'll be well sustained for the effort, as I have a good pile of leftovers to enjoy, since two of our guests from yesterday were flying home, and the other is a borderline vegetarian, so our efforts at sending them home with food failed. Oh well, I'll have to make the sacrifice of keeping these ribs and chicken breasts from going to waste.