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Friday, Aug 17, 2012

  

Valve Bringing Saxxy Back

Valve unveils the Saxxy Awards 2012, the second annual Team Fortress 2 movie-making competition, which will now feature clips made with the snazzy new Source Filmmaker. Here's word:

Entrants will compete for top honors in five categories, including Best Comedy and Best Drama. Every winner will take home a Saxxy, and the overall winner will also win a trip to Valve and have a chance to see their work aired on GTTV's VGA Preshow this December.

"I am absolutely inspired and stunned by the early work I've seen from fans experimenting with SFM," said Geoff Keighley, executive in charge of publisher relations for Spike TV. "All of us at Spike are excited to work with Valve to give someone in the community the chance to world premiere their original SFM short on TV in over 99 million homes."

The Witcher 2 Mod Tools Beta Signups

CD Projekt RED invites modders to apply for early access to the REDkit mod tools for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings by signing up on this page. “We have our own vision for RPGs, they should present an exciting story and give players lots of choices that really matter," says studio head Adam Badowski. "The REDkit is designed to create adventures that way – mature, non-linear and engrossing stories set in vivid worlds filled with believable characters." Word is:

In the business section of the gamescom show floor, journalists were able to see the Witcher 2 toolset – REDkit. The editor allows modders to create adventures in the world of Geralt of Rivia. REDkit gives players the power to create detailed environments and complex, nonlinear quests as they tell their own Witcher story. Starting today, modders from all over the world can apply for early access to the REDkit by going to thewitcher.com/redkit before September 30, 2012.

ShootMania: Storm Map Contest

ManiaPlanet News has details on a map-making competition that's now underway for multiplayer ShootMania: Storm maps to be used by pro gamers at PAX Prime, with three prize winners to be flown to Seattle for the show. This post has the complete rules, which have some details to note, including that this is only open to (most) residents of the U.S. and Canada, and that all entries become the property of Ubisoft. Thanks Frans.

New Drox Operative Beta

Drox Operative beta version 0.915 is now available from Soldak Entertainment as patches for the Windows and OS X editions of their upcoming action/RPG. The complete change list is here, and here is the tl;dr version: "This patch greatly improves the help system and fixes a bunch of other little things."

On Sale

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Science fiction’s 2012. Thanks Devicer.

OnLive Layoff Rumors; Indie Weekend Giveaways

Mashable has rumors layoffs at OnLive amid a retraction of their original report that the cloud gaming service was shutting down today following a tweet by InExile's Brian Fargo to that effect (thanks nin). The story currently suggests the entire staff has been let go, though some may be rehired for the company's next phase. Mashable's official statement from OnLive on this is: "no comment on the news other than to say, the OnLive service is not shutting down." Kotaku notes that the OnLive Blog has word on a free indie game giveaway, to the extent you can own a game streamed from the cloud, saying they are offering SpaceChem and Space Pirates and Zombies (S.P.A.Z.) for free. Update: Gamasutra now says they can confirm that the entire OnLive staff was fired today.

WoW Adding All Race Access

Blizzard announces that all races will be available to all World of Warcraft players as of the upcoming version 5.0.4 patch for the MMORPG. The new version is currently planned for release on Tuesday, and here's word on this change it will bring:

With the release of patch 5.0.4, we’re making all the races of Azeroth playable by anyone, no matter which version or expansion of World of Warcraft they own. This includes the enigmatic pandaren, who will become available for play when Mists of Pandaria is released on Tuesday, September 25. We want the entire World of Warcraft community to be able to embrace their inner goblin, blood elf, worgen, draenei, or pandaren from the moment they step foot into the world of Azeroth.

Now, the only hard part will be choosing a name. Who will you be next?

Heroes of Newerth Core Pool Launches Today

The Heroes of Newerth Website announces a new patch is going live today to add an all-new "Core Pool" gameplay mode that uses 40 "carefully selected" heroes from the MOBA game. This page has further details and a trailer showing off Core Pool features. Here's word:

Exciting changes are afoot as we aim to implement a "less is more" philosophy in HoN with our new game mode called Core Pool. Core Pool will feature 40 iconic HoN heroes and encourage players to focus on their game and take their skills to the next level in a controlled environment. As Core Pool is an optional game mode, any player can choose the mode at any time to hone their skills, develop strategy, or just have fun playing a classic game of HoN. With well over 100 characters to choose from in normal mode play, even experienced players can have difficulty keeping up with frequent new character releases. The difficulty associated with getting into HoN or any MOBA for that matter and staying current is well known and frequently lamented by gamers everywhere.

Core Pool directly addresses the steep learning curve prevalent in all MOBAs. No other MOBA offers a controlled environment like this, and we hope to help players who are struggling with learning new characters all the time by providing them a game mode option that will help them learn the basic conventions of HoN. Core Pool, and the concept behind it, is something the MOBA genre was missing and we’re really excited to bring it to our players. Core Pool is great for both experienced players, new players, and anyone looking to play HoN, as it offers a place to improve your skills and try out new techniques by yourself or with your team in a more controlled environment.

More Diablo III 1.04 Class Previews

The Diablo III Website now offers previews of what the upcoming version 1.04 patch for Diablo III holds for the remaining classes in the action/RPG sequel: The Monk, the Demon Hunter, and the Witch Doctor. In each case they discuss plans to buff underutilized skills to promote build diversity.

Borderlands 2 Weapons Videos

Gearbox Software offers a few new videos showing off weapons from Borderlands 2, their upcoming role-playing shooter sequel. Since the game boasts a gazillion guns, which would make for a lot of videos, they break this down by in-game weapons manufacturer, highlighting the handiwork of Maliwan, Tediore, and Vladof.

A Game of Dwarves Trailer

This trailer is the Gamescom presentation for A Game of Dwarves, the upcoming strategy/management game. Can you dig it? Here's word on the clip: "Paradox Interactive, in another cunning scheme to avoid paying for plane tickets, attempted to reach Gamescom this week by digging an elaborate tunnel from Stockholm to Cologne, but accidentally tunneled into a subterranean dwarven settlement instead. While they were down there, however, the Paradox team was able to capture the lives and daily activities of these enterprising dwarves on video. They have compiled the new footage into an all-new trailer for A Game of Dwarves, and have shared that trailer with the world today." Continue here to read the full story.

Mind Reading Controllers Reading Minds?

Forbes outlines how researchers experimenting with game controllers based on brain waves can actually reveal some of a user's secrets (thanks Ant via Slashdot). See if you can wrap your mind around this:

When shown a collection of locations on maps that included one of their home, the headset-wearers’ brains emitted tell-tale hints that allowed the experimenters to determine their home’s general location with 60% accuracy on the first try among a collection of ten choices. And when the subjects were asked to memorize a four-digit PIN and then shown a series of random numbers, the researchers found they could guess which of those random numbers was the first digit in the PIN with about 30% accuracy on the first try–far from a home run, but a significantly higher success rate than a random guess.

In fact, none of those results point to a realistic possibility of cybercriminals reading victims’ minds through their gaming headsets any time soon, Oxford’s Martinovic admits. The Neurosky and Emotiv devices, which sell for between $200 and $300, have hardly entered the mainstream, and the mind-reading attacks the researchers describe aren’t reliable enough to make them a profitable avenue for data theft, anyway.

But Martinovic says that the main challenge in looking for signs of the users’ mental responses was sorting through the noisy and often inaccurate signals the headsets produced. Those signals are likely to improve.

Op Ed

Bitmob - Every game needs a -Girlfriend Mode.
I’ve met a legion of female players who could cheerfully take me apart in any game of my choosing. And I’m here to tell you that a “girlfriend mode” addresses a real use-case scenario, one the industry must understand better and should cater to in every co-op game and that is neither sexist nor elitist. Quite the opposite, actually.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Apologies for the late start today: MrsBlue has been home this week as she starts her new job on Monday (we never did get to take advantage of our free access to Disney, either), which has thrown off what passes for a schedule around here. Things should be back on track next week.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Acorn Story.
The Expendables: Deploy and Destroy.
Links: World’s most expensive speakers. Riggght. Thanks HARDOCP.
Stories: West Nile aerial attack creates controversy in virus-stricken Dallas.
Media: OMG! I just dropped my brand new iMac.
Amazing Acoustics! Halo theme sung in an oil chamber.
100 Greatest Maniacal Movie Laughs.



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