The official website for Sword of the Stars - The Pit now offers downloads of a playable alpha demo for Kerberos Productions' roguelike set in their sci-fi Sword of the Stars universe. If the demo appeals, there is an Indiegogo campaign to support the production which concludes in five days. Here's word on the demo:
The Alpha Demo includes the Engineer, one of the game’s three playable Characters, a brief Tutorial, and five playable levels to explore, which include a good cross section of monsters, traps, and items. The full game, which will release with 30 playable levels, is considerably larger in scope.
“This Alpha Demo offers only about 10% of the game’s total content,” says Lead Designer Martin Cirulis. “But it should give players a good feel for the Roguelike gameplay, with the retro art style and the skill-based RPG aspects. While The Pit keeps getting bigger as you go deeper, and you will encounter more and more threats, weapons, and devices from the SotSverse, the first 5 floors - even at this alpha stage - will be an excellent way for gamers to tell if The Pit is for them. And it's just plain fun!”
Activision announces the release of free Skyfall DLC for the PlayStation 3 edition of 007 Legends is now available, and this content based on the new movie will be added to the Windows and Xbox 360 editions of the James Bond game on November 20th. This trailer shows off gameplay from the Skyfall mission, and here's an outline of what to expect:
Capping off the first-of-its-kind James Bond video game experience, the SKYFALL mission sends players into the heart of Istanbul to hunt down a brutal assassin. It quickly turns into an epic chase, taking fans on a treacherous pursuit that ends atop a speeding train as a mysterious sniper nearly ends Bond's life. After overcoming death itself, 007 must track down his target across the world to Shanghai for a final showdown to uncover the truth...
Following the launch of the mobile versions of Curiosity, Rock, Paper, Shotgun has allowed their curiosity to get the best of them, and have inquired about the status of the PC edition of the first-person chiseler, since this was announced as a PC/Mac "experiment." Designer Peter Molyneux explains that the game is just too darned successful, so this may have been another of those cases where his enthusiasm has outstripped reality, as he tells them:
“We would love to do a PC version,” Molyneux told RPS, “but we are currently snowed under by the number of people using the Curiosity experiment (coming up to one million ) in a few days. This is pushing our servers to the limit. We are currently all surviving on less than three hours sleep a night. I guess if we could find a publisher who could take on the work of a PC version we could consider it.”
The StarCraft II Website announces plans to bring the ability to play against players around the world in StarCraft II, Blizzard's RTS (it's like a global Internet or something!). This will take a while, though, as they say the patch to add this feature is due "in the coming months." Here's what this will provide:
Global Play will give you access to StarCraft II game servers in regions outside your own, expanding the possibilities for eSports, exposing you to maps and games that aren’t yet published everywhere, and making it easy to play with your friends in other parts of the world. Each region will have separate profile data, meaning that characters, profiles, ladder rankings, progress, and friends lists will not carry over from region to region. With Global Play, you’ll have other regions to choose from as you create new characters, take on different ladder opponents, and perhaps try maps that you’ve never seen before.
More about Global Play:
Players will be able to freely switch between regions via the StarCraft II login screen.
When your region’s game servers are undergoing maintenance, you may be able to play in a different region that is not down for maintenance.
Your game language and user interface will not change when you change regions.
Players using Global Play will be subject to the in-game policies of their selected play region.
We’ll have more details soon, including answers to your most frequently asked questions about Global Play.
The Diablo III Website announces Blizzard has recently handed out a bunch of bans to Diablo III players for violating the terms of service for Blizzard's action/RPG sequel. They don't specify how many accounts are barred due to this, but they do offer more details on why: "In each of these cases players used a hack program for exploitive purposes, for example to zoom out their game view and kill monsters that were beyond the normal range at which AI is triggered. As we do with all Blizzard games, we will continue to monitor Diablo III for cheating and take action as needed." They outline various actions that could trigger such discipline so players can make sure they are keeping their noses clean. On a related note, Blend Games continues their criticism of the game by rounding up reports of Linux users who claim they have been banned after playing the game through WINE, unmoved by Blizzard's comments that they cannot guarantee that users of an unsupported operating system may be incorrectly tagged as hackers.
TopWare Interactive announces that Transcripted is now available for Windows and OS X, along with playable demos for the puzzle shooter on each platform. The game can be acquired through digital distribution, or at retail, and physical copies boast an "elaborately designed packaging and reversible cover" as well as an optional Steam key for those who want to tale advantage of Steam achievements and the like. The demos are available through the Transcripted Website and Steam, and here's word on the game:
Transcripted is a mixture of two incredibly addictive and vastly popular casual gaming styles: the dual-stick shooter and the match three puzzle game. In Transcripted players take control of the Nano Probe, a microscopic apparatus used to combat disease. With the aid of a skill tree that improves ship equipment, health, shields and the Nano Probe’s arsenal of upgradeable weapons, players must successfully navigate through hordes of deadly pathogens to destroy the disease’s pseudo-DNA as it twines perilously on its endless path to infection. Along the way players must defeat gigantic boss colonies the pathogen has evolved with the sole purpose of stopping the Nano Probe from completing its mission. Difficulty levels of both puzzle and shooting segments can be adjusted independently to suit every play style, making “Transcripted” an amazingly re-playable experience.
So many military shooters tout the credentials of their advisors there's a tendency to assume this is hype, but NBC News has word that the SEALs who participated in the development of Medal of Honor have received letters of reprimand from the U.S. Navy, and have been docked half their pay for two months (thanks David). The latest installment in EA's shooter series takes pride in the contribution of "actual U.S. Tier 1 Operators," and the truth of this is borne out by this reprimand: "We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as Sailors in the United States Navy," says a written statement from Deputy Commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli. "The non-judicial punishment decisions made today send a clear message throughout our Force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability."
A free weekend for Death Rally is now underway on Steam, offering the chance to test drive Remedy Entertainments game of road rage, which is on sale for half-off for the duration of the event. Here's the pitch to see if this game catches your interest:
Load your guns, start your engines...THE CLASSIC IS BACK! Brought to you from Remedy, renowned developers of Max Payne and Alan Wake, Remedy's Death Rally classic top down racer is back, stronger and more vicious than ever.
This is no Sunday Drive. This is Death Rally, so be prepared to be blown away, literally. Make a run for the finish line with a trail of burnt rubber and spent brass behind you..along with the flaming wreckage of any fool dumb enough to get in your way.
The gameplay is addictive, intense, explosive fun! Win races, upgrade your cars and weapons to defeat incredible boss drivers to beat the story mode. Join the multiplayer! lock and load and enter the Death Rally, humiliate and destroy your opponents or sabotage their race. You choose how you win, NO TRICK IS TOO DIRTY!
The Kickstarter Page for Elite: Dangerous has a non-gameplay trailer from the upcoming Elite sequel. This features Frontier Developments' David Braben discussing the history of the franchise, and expresses great enthusiasm for the opportinities for a modern game using procedurally generated content like its forebears. The accompanying update also includes some concept art and renderings to give the first sense of the visual direction they envision.
Kalypso Media announces the release of the Windows edition of Sine Mora, Digital Reality's horizontal shoot'em up that's already available for consoles. Here's the deal: "Kalypso Media Digital and Digital Reality are pleased to announce that Sine Mora, the stunning "shoot 'em up" that won rave reviews when released on console, is now available via digital download for Windows PC! To celebrate the digital release of Sine Mora, Kalypso Digital is making available an exciting trailer for the game, which shows off Sine Mora's amazing HD visuals - including gigantic bosses, stunning weapons and unique enemies. Grab the new trailer and prepare to be impressed by the game that's re-defining the "Shmup" genre with incredible visuals, 3D environments and time-bending elements."
Publisher Paradox Interactive and developer Critical Studio announce they are accepting signups for an upcoming limited beta test for Dungeonland, a co-op action game set in a medieval fantasy theme park. The test will begin later this month, and this also heralds a delay, as the game was announced for release this year, but now word is that Dungeonland will open its virtual doors in the first quarter next year (Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya). You can register for testing on the brand-new Dungeonland Beta Website, and they say you should get this done by December 1st for the best chance at acceptance, also revealing an incentive for participating: "Every miserable hero who signs up for the limited beta will receive a little something extra at launch, regardless of whether or not they are picked by the illustrious and extremely good looking Dungeonmaster, so start entering in your contact info at the game site already!"
Apologies for a couple of glitches here last night. The first one was pretty benign, as some sort of error when I posted the news clipped the last character off each headline (so if this story is titled "Out of the Blu," know I am looking into it). More seriously, it seems we had a but of a crash overnight, so apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by the outage.
Today we are excited to announce that the global launch date of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Free-to-Play option will be November 15, 2012. This release will be simultaneous across all of the territories and countries The Old Republic™ is available.
If you’re a paying Subscriber at the launch of the Free-to-Play option on November 15th, you will be granted all of the Complimentary Cartel Coins currently listed on your Cartel Coin Ledger page, plus a one-time grant of 250 Complimentary Cartel Coins!
Additionally, we are extending the Rewards Program! All former subscribers who reactivate their subscription by the new date of December 20, 2012 at 11:59pm CST will be granted Complimentary Cartel Coins for their prior paid months up to November 15, 2012. For more information on all of the rewards you could potentially receive, visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com/FREE.
Gamasutra has details from the NPD Group's October report on U.S. game and hardware sales. The retail downtrend continues, as word is the $755.5 million in reported revenues is down 25% compared to the same period last year, while digital continues to ascend: "As always, it is worth noting that the rise of digital sales has been eating away at the retail video game industry. While this month's $755.5 million in revenues was down compared to the same period last year, the group estimates the total was more along the lines of $1.2 billion when factoring in digital sales, subscriptions, rentals, and other related spend on video games in the country."
Indie Royale now offers sales of The Harvest Bundle, their latest bargain-priced collection of independently developed games. The bundle includes Mutant Mudds, Pineapple Smash Crew, Spirits, Avernum: The Great Trials Trilogy, and BasketBelle. Word is: "Those who pay $8 USD or their currency equivalent during the Harvest Bundle will get a custom one-of-a-kind IndieRoyale exclusive album from the critically acclaimed chiptune label ''Data Airlines''."
A playable demo for the Windows edition of Angry Birds Star Wars is now available, offering the chance to sample this convergence of two over-merchandised properties. The download is available on AtomicGamer and Softpedia, but we have no details on what it offers. As noted by Xbox Live's Major Nelson, the Windows 8, RT, and Windows Phone 8 versions of the game are also now available.
GearboxSoftware tweets plans for a the release of Borderlands 2 for OS X: "Surprise! Borderlands 2 is coming to Mac on November 20." This includes a link to the GameAgent announcement about this, but that site is broken at the moment. Thanks nin.
This trailer is a video developer's diary for The Elder Scrolls Online, the upcoming MMORPG. Word is: "The team from ZeniMax Online Studios discusses how they are bringing the rich history of The Elder Scrolls series online in the newly released documentary-style video for The Elder Scrolls Online. Check out the first-ever released gameplay footage as the team talks about their vision for the game – from the basics to how they are developing one of the most socially-connected MMOs ever created." Continue here to read the full story.
Courthouse News Service has details on a class action suit filed against Blizzard for consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, negligence, breach of contract and bailment over being asked to pay for an authenticator to secure Battle.net accounts (thanks na p), noting that Blizzard has made $26 million selling these things at $6.40 a pop (apparently their presumption is they are free to manufacture). Here's word:
Bell claims that Activision and Blizzard require gamers to use online accounts at the Battle.net website, which collects and stores customers' private information.
Blizzard puts the onus on gamers to buy additional products or tighten security on their devices, rather than making customer accounts more secure, Bell claims.
"Defendants negligently, deliberately, and/or recklessly fail to ensure that adequate, reasonable procedures safeguard the private information stored on this website. As a result of these acts, the private information of plaintiffs and class members has been compromised and/or stolen since at least 2007," according to the 33-page complaint.
"Most recently, on or about May 19, 2012, reports proliferated that class members' Battle.net accounts had suffered a security breach ('hack') at the hands of unknown parties ('hackers'), and on or about August 4, 2012, hackers massively breached Battle.net's security and acquired the private information of all of defendants' customers in the United States, as well as the remainder of North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia."
Though account details for millions of gamers were compromised or stolen, Bell says, neither Activision nor Blizzard took "the legally required steps to alert" gamers.
Bell seeks class damages and an injunction to bar the defendants from "tacking on" undisclosed costs after customers have bought games, and from requiring them to sign up for Battle.net accounts.
The Drox Operative Website now offers a playable demo for Soldak Entertainment's upcoming science fiction action/RPG. Those who preorder the game have access to the beta test, but now all are invited to sample the Windows and OS X demos. Here's a little on the game: "As a Drox Operative it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget. It IS your job to pick the winning side and maybe even help them conquer the galaxy if you're being nice, more importantly though is to rake in as many credits as possible, well that and build the coolest, deadliest ship in the known universe. Not many screw with an Operative captaining a Dreadnaught!" Here's a bit on the demo: "In the Drox Operative demo, you can get a taste of the dynamic and ever changing galaxy. There is no time limit, but it does limit everything to around level 6. The demos are about 120 MB. You can see the minimum and recommended System Specs here."
GameInformer.com has the promised teaser for the December cover story of Game Informer magazine about Grand Theft Auto V (the issue is now available digitally and the print version is expected in a week). Word is: "Over the course of 18 pages (our biggest cover story yet!), we introduce the three main protagonists, discuss the groundbreaking way you use them, and explore the reimagined Los Santos – the biggest open world Rockstar has created to date. The massive feature also divulges and dissects many more aspects of the game fans won't want to miss." Kotaku has some of the skinny from the article (thanks nin), including word that Los Santos is larger than Red Dead Redemption, San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto IV combined, and areas to be explored will include wilderness, a military base, and the ocean floor. There is also a clarification that this is the same world as Grand Theft Auto IV and Liberty City, but not the earlier installments in the open world action series.
In the wake of a new focus our studio has recently changed its name from BioWare Mythic to Mythic. Everything else stays the same - our passionate teams will continue to support and develop our existing titles as well as working on some new and exciting projects.
A new Space Colony HD Website is online, heralding the promised release of this updated version of Space Colony, Firefly's sci-fi strategy simulation. Here's the deal:
Space Colony HD has players construct military and civilian bases on different planets throughout the galaxy, defending it from hostile alien threats while also keeping their ragtag crew of colonists alive and content. Your colourful crew includes the amicable Venus Jones, Scandinavian biker Stig Svensson, cybernetics expert Mr. Zhang and even former chicken farmer Billy-Bob Perkins. Each character has a unique personality with specific skills and needs, as well as different interactions. While keeping the crew happy is important, players must also keep them alive, maintaining oxygen levels, work productivity and defending against hostile alien threats.
The game features a wealth of different structures, weapons, aliens and real-time strategy mechanics befitting of a base builder. Establishing mining operations, colonist facilities and perimeter defences is up to the player, as is deciding which planets to colonise. As a throwback to the Stronghold games, players can choose to take a “Military” or “Civilian” path through the game, battling indigenous life or building intergalactic golf courses instead.
Space Colony HD updates the original strategy sim with high definition graphics and a greater field of view, often allowing players to see attacks on their base and points of interest at a glance, without the need to scroll around the map. The game has been remastered to support resolutions up to 2560x1600, up from the previous cap of 1280x1024. A new trailer and HD screenshots can be found at www.spacecolonyhd.com.
The World of Warcraft Website lists more server-side hotfixes applied to World of Warcraft following the recently deployed version 5.0.5 patch for Blizzard's MMORPG. This includes a few class-specific balance tweaks, changes to some dungeons and raids, as well as some bug fixes.
The Natural Selection 2 Website has an infographic detailing the ascension of Unknown World's action/strategy sequel since its launch a week ago. Though a picture paints a thousand words, they also accompany with some text analysis: "Icelanders are the most NS2 obsessed, the US is the biggest market, Singaporeans are the most likely to buy the Deluxe edition, and Belgians the most likely to buy 4-packs for their friends. NS2 has grossed over one million dollars in its first week. That means UWE can continue to make NS2 better for a very long time to come, and even tentatively start thinking about other projects for the long term. As of yesterday, 75,105 games of NS2 had been played by up to 7,135 concurrent players." They also note a tournament this weekend at the ESL European Open Finals in Cologne, Germany, saying this can be streamed via Twitch and possibly attended live by those in the area. Thanks Joao.
Wargaming.Net officially announces (on Wargaming.com, just to keep us on our toes) the plans to add Chinese tanks to World of Tanks, their MMO shooter, though there's no word on when the version 8.2 update will go live. This is mostly the information revealed yesterday, including this trailer. Continue here to read the full story.
The storm ended overnight and I managed to get the walk shoveled and a car dug out, so things are fine here, and are all set for the next storm. I think that's due in around a week, but in the meantime, they say temperatures should be in the 60s over the weekend, just to keep us off guard. One can only hope those displaced or without power from Sandy were able to get through this okay.
And it's football Thursday, and for the reader who chided me for not commenting on the Giants loss on Monday, I'm trying to isolate my NFL talk here to the one little blurb a week. So for the record, yes, the Giants lost, and no, I didn't enjoy it. Last week our experts' expertise was in full display, as the results were pretty cooperative with our picks. The outcome was Cutter and Jivaro (12-2); Blue, Creston, and Batman (11-3); mag and Verno (10-4), and Rigs (8-6). No time to rest on our laurels (no matter how comfortable they are), here goes for this week: Colts, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Giants, Lions, Saints, Seahawks, Cowboys, 49ers, Texans, and Steelers.