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Thursday, Nov 08, 2012

  

The Old Republic Goes Free to Play Next Week

BioWare announces a November 15th start date for the free-to-play era in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here's the deal:

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.

BioShock Free on GameFly

GameFly announces the PC client for this game rental service is out of beta. To celebrate, they are now offering downloads of a free copy of BioShock, Irrational's waterlogged shooter.

October NPD Report

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's Harvest Bundle

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''."

Angry Birds Star Wars Demo Released

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.

Mac Borderlands 2 This Month

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.

The Elder Scrolls Online Video Diary

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.

Battle.net Authenticator Class Action Suit

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.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Drox Operative Demo

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."

Grand Theft Auto V Details

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.

BioWare Mythic Now Just Mythic

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Website announces the studio known as BioWare Mythic since it was changed from BioWare when the companies merged in 2010 is now known simply as Mythic (thanks VG247/Massively). Here's word on this latest branding shift:

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.

If you want to learn more about our studio, visit our new website, our dedicated Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @MythicNews.

Ships Ahoy - Space Colony HD

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.

World of Warcraft Hotfixes

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.

Natural Selection 2 Launch Details; Tourney

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.

More on WoT Chinese Tanks

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.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Happy World Usability Day! Thanks Morris, who resends a related video that was posted here earlier this year: How to open a door - Finnish instructional video from 1979.

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.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Home Sheep Home 2: Lost Underground.
Links: I decided to look up Adam West in the phone book today.
Stories: Volvo's Three-Point Safety Belt Celebrates 50 Years. Open patent? Nice. Thanks reddit
Harvard Students Send First Burger Into Space. One small step for meat…
Media: Force by Forcewest.
Goro Mechanical Head.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Follow-up: "Top Gun" Sequel Collapses Post-Scott.



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