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Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013

  

More on Steam Hardware

Engadget has follow-ups to comments recently attributed to Ben Krasnow about plans for Steam hardware. Ben says he was misquoted (or mistranslated) and that he did not confirm Linux support and he does not think they will be showing off anything of the sort this year as reported (thanks HARDOCP). Meanwhile, there's an interview with Valve's Gabe Newell on The Verge where the Valve honcho talks of how they are working with many hardware partners on "Good, Better," or "Best" boxes for playing Steam games, and also goes ahead and says they will be releasing Linux-based "Steam boxes," among other things, also discussing their interest in low-latency controllers, biometric controllers, and other cutting edge-ness. This includes much discussion of open versus closed systems.

Razer Edge Tablet Unveiled

PCMag.com has details on the Razer Edge, a tablet PC with a gaming form-factor that will run Windows games natively under Windows 8. They expect this to start shipping this quarter, with base models priced at $999. Here's more on the system:

The Razer Edge is a 10.1-inch device being touted as the world's most powerful tablet, and a quick look inside both the base model and the souped-up Pro version show why. Both pack a third-generation Intel Core processor and a discrete Nvidia GT640M LE GPU. More specifically, the Razer Edge sports an Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB SSD, and the Razer Edge Pro comes configured with a beefier Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, and the option for either a 128GB or 256GB SSD. Both models feature a USB 3.0 port, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and both run on a full version of Windows 8 with Intel architecture, in turn allowing PC games to run natively on the Edge without the need to be ported or optimized.

Sins of a Dark Age Founder Editions Released

Ironclad Games announces that Sins of a Dark Age is now available in three different founder tiers, which grant immediate access to early closed beta testing of the fantasy strategy MOBA along with various other incentives. This page has all the details on the $25.00 Rare edition, the $55.00 Epic edition, and the $125.00 Legendary edition, which come with different perks and different amounts of in-game currency. Here's word on the game:

Sins of a Dark Age continues to shake up the MOBA genre with game-changing Realm Quests, a powerful system that encapsulates the opportunities, risks and rewards of a living world by offering a wealth of new experiences and strategic choices. This pioneering system fuses RPG-like quests and their resultant opportunities into the intense framework of a competitive MOBA game. Imagine dealing with the threat of plague-infested vermin, welcoming the arrival of timely reinforcements, escorting a merchant convoy, racing to gain favor of a powerful ally or even working cooperatively with your enemy against a deadly common threat. Your team's ability to plan, strategize and adapt to a world alive with ever-changing opportunities is just as important as your ability to counter the enemy heroes and their hordes of minions.

With stunning visuals and development plans for competitive and cooperative experiences, leaderboards, replays, spectating and plenty of post-release content in the form of Heroes, Realm Quests, Maps and Skins; Sins of a Dark Age is the next evolution of MOBA.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Revolution Details

Activision announces details about the Revolution DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, saying this will initially be an Xbox 360 exclusive when it is released on January 29th, coyly saying other platforms will follow, but not specifying when. "With Black Ops II, the team set out to challenge assumptions about what fans should expect from Call of Duty, and there's no exception with Revolution," said Mark Lamia, Treyarch's Studio Head. "It starts with the massive amount of content that Revolution offers: four distinct multiplayer maps, an entirely new Zombies map and new Zombies mode, and a new bonus weapon. But quantity is just the start - it's the variety of new gameplay options in Revolution that sets it apart, making it our most compelling DLC offering to date, and a must-play experience for Call of Duty fans." Here's more of what to expect:

Revolution takes players to unexpected new locales the world over. "Downhill" is set in the ski country of the French Alps, where players fight their way down the slopes and through a ski lodge, while avoiding the moving hazards of the mountain's gondola system. Opponents must dodge the floodwaters in "Hydro" as they contend for dominance of this hydroelectric dam facility in Pakistan, filled with treacherous spillways. "Mirage" pits players in competition amidst the sand dunes of a dilapidated luxury resort in the sandstorm-devastated Gobi Desert, where a range of long-distance and close-quarters combat will mix up the action for all play styles. Finally, "Grind" transports players to the historic birthplace of skateboarding, California's Venice Beach, where they will battle it out through the ramps and half-pipes of this massive, epic skate park in a multiplayer environment comprised of unique curved architecture requiring players to adapt and learn new ways to take cover. Each map in Revolution delivers a uniquely exhilarating new landscape for tactics and battle.

Revolution also delivers a lethal bonus multiplayer weapon, the "Peacekeeper." This powerful SMG, accompanied by its own set of weapon challenges for additional XP, is unlocked to all Call of Duty: Black Ops II fans that pick-up Revolution.

Continue here to read the full story.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Patched

This page has details on a new patch that's now automatically available for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier to update Ubisoft's military shooter to version 1.6. The new version includes new content including night mode versions of a couple of maps and a new hardcore mode. This forum post and this one each have complaints from users saying that multiplayer issues remain in the new version, including word from some experiencing worsened connectivity issues following the patch. Thanks Charliebrownau.

$83MM to Kickstart Games in 2012

A Best of Kickstarter 2012 feature has some eye-opening statistics on the year in videogame crowdsourcing. Word is 561,574 backers pledged $83,144,565 to 2,796 projects. Thanks nin via Kotaku.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Thanks Ant.

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Assassin's Creed III PC DLC Next Week

Ubisoft announces the Battled Hardened Pack is now available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions of Assassin's Creed III, while this new multiplayer DLC will come to the Windows edition of the stealth/action series on January 15th. The pack is $4.99, or free to Season Pass holders. Here are some screenshots, showing off the three contained multiplayer characters ("the influential Governor, the ferocious Highlander and the fearsome Coyote Man") and three multiplayer (Charlestown, Fort St-Mathieu, and Saint Pierre).

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Announced

WBIE, TT Games, The LEGO Group, Marvel Entertainment and a cast of thousands announce LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the next installment in the series of action video games combining LEGO toys with various other properties. This page offers details on the game, which is planned for release this autumn (Northern Hemisphere) for Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and handhelds. Here's a bit:

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes complements the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes construction toy collection, which brings the characters, vehicles and action of Marvel’s renowned universe to the world of LEGO build-and-play adventure. There are currently eight iconic scenes from the X-Men, Iron Man and Spider-Man franchises available and more construction sets tied to the new Iron Man 3 feature film will launch later this spring.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes offers an original storyline in which Nick Fury calls upon Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Wolverine and other heroes spanning the Marvel Universe to save Earth from such threats as the vengeance of Loki and the hunger of Galactus, Devourer of the Worlds. LEGO and Marvel fans will enjoy classic LEGO videogame adventure and humor, while playing as their favorite Marvel characters.

Indie Royale Replay Bundle Vol 1

Indie Royale now offers online sales of Replay Bundle Vol 1, which features some of the more popular titles from previous installments in this flexibly priced indie bundle series. Word is: "Back by popular demand - grab great titles that you may have missed the first time around! Included in this bundle are FPS and RTS hybrid experience Nuclear Dawn, futuristic tower-defense game Defense Grid: The Awakening, classic 2D adventure game Gemini Rue, and two fast-paced dungeon adventures Soulcaster I and II. Also included is a very special 56-track album bonus (a $20 value!) for those who pay $8 USD or their currency equivalent during this bundle, the 8 Bit Weapon Collection."

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Free Second Wave DLC

Steam News announces the release of patch 3 for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, updating the new installment in the turn-based strategy series with some bug fixes as well as new free DLC called Second Wave. Here's word:

The XCOM: Enemy Unknown Second Wave content offers a series of advanced gameplay options that unlock a new level of depth, challenge and replayability. The Second Wave content includes:

  • Damage Roulette: Weapons have a wider range of damage.
  • New Economy: Randomized council member funding.
  • Not Created Equally: Rookies will have random starting stats.
  • Hidden Potential: As a soldier is promoted, stats increase randomly.
  • Red Fog: Combat wounds will degrade the soldier’s mission stats.
  • Absolutely Critical: A flanking shot guarantees a critical hit.
  • The Greater Good: Psionics can only be learned from interrogating a psionic alien.
  • Marathon: The game takes considerably longer to complete.
  • Results Driven: A country offers less funding as its panic level increases.
  • High Stakes: Random rewards for stopping alien abductions.
  • Diminishing Returns: Increased cost of satellite construction.
  • More Than Human: The psionic gift is extremely rare.

Diablo III Inadvertent PvP to be Fixed

There are threads in the Diablo III Forums about players exploiting the way vote kick mechanics work in Blizzard's action/RPG sequel to get other players killed, which is a particular problem in Hardcore, where character death is permanent. A post by Blizzard responds to this situation saying this unintended form of PvP griefiing will be addressed ASAP:

Ehhh. While the advice "don't play in Hardcore public games" may be valid in a number of situations, we recognize that this is a legitimate issue for Hardcore players and want to address it ASAP -- ideally in a way that doesn't impact co-op play (or impacts it as minimally as possible).

Right now, we're looking to remove the 10-second movement lockout whenever a Vote Kick is passed from both Hardcore and Normal modes. While we realize this solution may allow players to exploit the Vote Kick function to avoid death, it's not a very reliable survival technique and we feel that it's a better alternative than players losing a character they've invested a lot of time into due to griefing. We'll definitely be keeping on an eye on this, though, and will consider other solutions if necessary.

I don't know yet if this is something that can be addressed via hotfix; it may be a fix that we need to implement with a client-side patch. We're still working out the details, and I'll provide an update once there's any more info to share.

Wizarbox Bankrupt

Paris-based developer Wizarbox (Risen, Grey Matter) filed for the French equivalent of bankruptcy last month, according to a report on Videogames Pockett. The story quotes Wizarboss Fabien Bihour talking about the difficulty in getting game assignments from publishers and an unwillingness to pursue unprofitable iPhone development as factors in this, while also discussing hopes to get back on track after reorganizing by developing some serious games. Thanks Develop.

Steam Hardware

Polygon has what details PC maker Xi3 is revealing about "Piston," a Steam-optimized mini computer that seems to be the first blow in Valve's much discussed foray into gaming hardware. This is be a powerful little PC in a cool form factor, said to be based on its "performance level" X7A PC, a version of a modular PC that failed to achieve its Kickstarter goals last year. This seems clearly aimed at the living room and Valve's "Big Picture" initiative.

F1 Race Stars DLC

Steam News announces the release of three new DLC packs for F1 RACE STARS, each adding a new track to the arcade racing game. These are a China Track, an India Track, and a Canada Track, each of which is a whopping $4.99.

THQ Sale Clarified

This press release adds some clarity to how the IP assets of THQ will be sold off following the company's bankruptcy and investor concerns about how such a sale will be conducted. Yesterday a report indicated these assets will be sold piecemeal at auction in two weeks, but the new announcement indicates that this will only happen if the combined bidding for all of them surpasses the Clearlake Capital Group's bid for the entire company.

Skyrim Interesting NPC Mod

A new mod on Skyrim Nexus for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim called "Interesting NPCs" looks to make encounters with the AI populace of Bethesda's RPG sequel less like being trapped by a bore at a cocktail party. This is a work in progress, and here's how it's described: "This is a project to add color and life to Skyrim through three dimensional NPCs. Each character is integrated into the world, with a backstory and an extensive dialogue tree to explore. Many of these characters are fully voiced by a talented team of over 50 voice actors. The dialogue choices allow you to role-play, providing humor and depth to each conversation. You can be a jerk or a jester, a white knight or an assassin, as the most important character is you." Thanks Batman via Kotaku.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I want to take this moment to wish Frans a very happy birthday, as I break with an unfortunate tradition and remember to do this on his actual birthday, rather than a day or two later. This gives me the opportunity to point out that Frans has remained vital to the operation of this site, serving as system administrator and tech guru, even though he also plies his trade elsewhere full-time. So, hearty huzza and kudos to our old friend, without whom you would not be reading these words! Happy Birthday Frans!

On a less significant note (for this site, at least), nin points out today is David Bowie's birthday, as he turns a startling 66, celebrating with new music that looks back at his experimental days with Eno in Berlin in the 1970s.

R.I.P.: ‘Snakes on a Plane’ director David R. Ellis dies at 60.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Double Win.
Links: 365 Supers.
Why The "Fake Geek Girl" Meme Needs To Die.
Stories: Al Roker Admits He Pooped His Pants At The White House. A shart tale.
Fish story lands in NC's high court, $1M on line.
Science: Mars Mission Could Turn Astronauts Into Couch Potatoes. Thanks Slashdot.
Astronauts Get Taller in Space. Tall couch potatoes.
Media: Darth Vader Can't Hear Too Well In That Helmet.
Ever See A Giant Lava Lake Collapse? Kilauea's Pu'ue.
Fastest Way to Drink Water. Thanks nin.



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