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Monday, Jan 14, 2013

  

Age of Conan Expands

The Age of Conan Website announces the Secrets of Dragon’s Spine expansion is now live in Funcom's MMORPG. This trailer offers a look, and here's word:

Funcom is excited to announce the launch of ‘The Secrets of Dragon’s Spine’, the latest content update for ‘Age of Conan: Unchained’. This latest update introduces the brand new area of Dragon’s Spine including the deep and perilous dungeon known as The Sepulcher of the Wyrm. Players may now travel to the mountainous peaks of Dragon’s Spine deep in the Stygian desert to embark on new and challenging high level adventures.

Free Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb Raider Underworld is the newest game to be added to CORE ONLINE, Square Enix's portal that provides streaming games free thanks to advertising support (ads can be removed with an optional fee). The beta service also offers Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Mini Ninjas, and Hitman: Blood Money. Thanks Ant via Reddit.

Half-Life 2: Return to Ravenholm Screenshots

A post from Friday on ValveTime.net has screenshots from "Return to Ravenholm," allegedly a new Half-Life 2 episode being developed as HL2 Episode Four by Arkane Studios before the project was cancelled. They say this was in the works between 2006 and 2007. Valve has yet to comment on this, hopefully because they are so hard at work on Episode Three. Thanks VG247.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Gas Powered Games Announces Wildman

Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games announce Wildman, an upcoming cross between an action/RPG and a real-time strategy game they say will offer "a brand new and unique gaming experience." The game is the subject of a Kickstarter that seeks to raise at least $1.1 million to develop the game, and the page includes this video featuring Chris and the team discussing the game and showing off some concept artwork. Here's word on the game:

Imagine a game where you control a single hero unit—the “Wildman”—in the middle of a raging battle between opposing forces in a specially designed War Zone. You engage the enemy and see your opponent switching tactics, forcing you to reconfigure your army to counter. You push the enemy back to their base before facing your opponent’s champion. Over the course of this battle, you upgrade your armies with new technology, execute special abilities, construct defenses, change your army composition, and shape-shift into new forms that grant you new abilities. This is Wildman.

Now imagine that between these War Zone battles you can go on role-playing adventures. You can explore fantastical environments. You can discover ancient dungeons full of mystery and treasure. You can earn new skills. You can discover and equip new weapons and armor. You can collect materials. You can craft new items. You can fight relentless onslaughts of men and monsters. This is also Wildman.

D.I.C.E. Award Nominees

This document (Adobe Acrobat format) outlines the nominees for the 16th annual D.I.C.E. Awards, which will be handed out by Nerdist.com founder Chris Hardwick on February 7th in a ceremony during the 2013 D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit. Word is: "Showcasing the breadth and depth of an incredible year of games, 63 games representing console to web-based to mobile, received D.I.C.E. Award nominations. Leading the nominations is Journey with 11 nominations, including Game of the Year. Rounding out the Game of the Year nominations are: Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, The Walking Dead, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Several titles earned multiple nods, including The Walking Dead with eight nominations, Far Cry 3 with seven, Halo 4 with six, and Borderlands 2 and Dishonored both receiving five each."

Edge: Valve, Mojang "Greatest Developers"

Edge Online teases how issue 250 of Edge Magazine lists the 50 greatest videogame developers in their estimation. They don't offer the list online (you have to pay for this sort of opinion), but notch spills the beans that Valve is number one as part of his incredulity that Mojang is number two, tweeting: "#2? Really? One released game and almost no proven track record. Great honor, of course, but no. ;)"

Aliens: Colonial Marines Specs

The Aliens: Colonial Marines Facebook Page notes that AvPGalaxy has word that Steam will begin offering preorders of Aliens: Colonial Marines today, also providing system specifications for Gearbox Software's upcoming shooter. Here's word:

Minimum Specs: Operating System: Windows XP SP3. Processor: 2 GHz Intel Dual Core Processor. RAM: 2GB RAM (XP),2GB RAM (Vista). HD: 20GB free hard disk space. Optical Drive: DVD. Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible. Video Card:NVIDIA GeForce 8500/ATI Radeon HD 2600 (256 minimum).

Recommended Specs: Operating System: Windows XP SP3/Vista/Windows 7. Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel Quad CoreProcessor. RAM: 2GB RAM. HD: 20GB free hard disk space. Optical Drive: DVD. Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible. VideoCard: NVIDIA GeForce GTX560/ATI Radeon HD 5850 (512 minimum).

Other Requirements: Initial installation requires one-time internet connection for Steam authentication; software installations required (included with the game) include Steam Client, DirectX 9, Microsoft .NET 4 Framework, Visual C++ Redistributable 2005, Visual C++ Redistributable 2008, Visual C++ Redistributable 2010, and AMD CPU Drivers (XP Only/AMD Only).

Batman and Arkham Domains

Fusible has news that a bunch of domains related to Batman and Arkham have been registered, though it's not readily apparent if these relate to movies, games, or both (thanks GameSpot). The owners of the domains are hidden by a privacy service, but they also note that Warner Bros. is a known client of this service. Here are the new domains:

arkhamuniverse.com (Arkham Universe)
batmanarkahmuniverse.com (Batman Arkham Universe)
batmanarkhamarises.com (Batman Arkham Arises)
batmanarkhambegins.com (Batman Arkham Begins)
batmanarkhamdarkknight.com (Batman Arkham Dark Knight)
batmanarkhamknight.com (Batman Arkham Knight)
batmanarkhamlegend.com (Batman Arkham Legend)
batmanarkhamlegends.com (Batman Arkham Legends)
batmanarkhamnight.com (Batman Arkham Night)
batmanarkhamorigins.com (Batman Arkham Origins)
batmanarkhamstories.com (Batman Arkham Stories)
darkknightarkham.com (Dark Knight Arkham)
dcarkhamuniverse.com (DC Arkham Universe)
dcarkhamverse.com (DC Arkhamverse)
thearkhamuniverse.com (The Arkham Universe)

Unwritten: That Which Happened Kickstarter

This Kickstarter seeks funds to support development of Unwritten: That Which Happened, an upcoming turn-based strategy game that includes some Roguelike gameplay (internally they call it "Sid Meier's Civilization meets Oregon Trail"). This is being developed by Roxlou Games, founded by Joe Houston, most recently of Arkane Studios where he worked on Dishonored. They seek $75,000 to fulfill the following mission: "Permanent decisions and infinite variety. Create a nomadic tribe and guide them across a randomly generated tundra to meet its God."

U.K. Charts

The GfK Chart-Track listing of bestselling full-priced PC entertainment titles in the U.K. is now updated for the week ending January 12th. This is a reshuffling of last week's deck, as all 20 titles are the same, and Football Manager 2013 maintains its toehold on the number one spot. There are a couple of reentries on the all platforms chart, but the highest of these is Rocksmith at #30. FIFA 13 remains the all platforms number one.

Op Ed

TechCrunch - The Fun Boson Does Not Exist. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.
Rather than continuing to innovate through measurement, the social sector as a whole rationalised itself into a corner. It knew of a couple of formats of game that seemed to work with measurements (but not really why they worked), knew how to build those, and then continued to repeat the same format again and again. So, just like the gambling industry, social gaming became about who had the best commercial processes in place to push their identikit product around as fast as possible. Farmville really wasn’t about Zynga’s genius at replicating Harvest Moon. It was about their genius at getting that game in front of everyone on Facebook faster than anyone else.

But, again just like the casino business, that kind of thinking can only get you so far.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Dishonored Designer Joe Houston On Violence In Games.
In light of the recent gun violence in the U.S. and the resultant anti-game talk that has stemmed from it, it’s important as gamers not to simply retreat to the easy reaction, that games aren’t a part of the problem. While I think that might be true (after personal examination), I think it’s a pity to stop there. Too often we think about what we might lose as players and developers if forced to engage in that conversation, becoming blinded by the fear of censorship. As a result we miss out on more creative and effective ways to be a part of the solution. As players we can stand to expand our emotional palette by seeking out games that challenge us. And developers have a responsibility to answer that demand with games that engage the player with meaningful choices, additional freedom, and ultimately greater personal responsibility.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I had a little culinary adventure over the weekend, as I've long intended to try to make a Bolognese sauce, as this is one of my favorite Italian ragus. It came out pretty well for a first try, which is a shock considering that in the middle of the process it seemed like it was not even remotely coming together as expected. I then found a video of Mario Batali making a Bolognese which showed some key flaws in my technique (in particular how he let the meat cook down), so I'm looking forward to trying this again soon and getting a little more autenticità going.

I heard from a couple of readers on Android phones who hit some sort of ad redirect here last night. Apologies if you experienced this, I'm looking into it right now.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: People on My Lawn 2.
Stories: WB secures commercial control of Superman. More crap movies to come.
Images: Office Tetris.
Take the good stuff.
Media: Sad Death Of A BMW.
The Ol' "Snakes In A Peanut Can" Trick.
The Spider Who Couldn't Hide.
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.
…meanwhile, at WinZip headquarters.
Brevity.

Sunday, Jan 13, 2013

Free StarCraft II Name Changes

The StarCraft II Website has an apology to players from Blizzard over their failure to live up to a promise for a paid service to allow name changes in StarCraft II, saying as a result of delays in rolling this out, they have added a free name change to everyone's account in the RTS sequel. Word is: "We’re planning to offer another free name change to all players when the new Clans feature goes live in the next couple of months, so don’t worry about removing your clan tag from your character name with this one. We will alert you to that when the time comes." There's no word in how much it is costing them to go through the vast expense of changing character names for nothing.

On Assassin's Creed III Tech

An article on FX Guide from last month discusses some of the technical wizardry behind Assassin's Creed III, discussing how modern video games are now capable of rendering scenes in real time that Thanks Ant via would have been beyond Hollywood not too long ago. This focuses on rendering oceans, saying: "In feature films just a decade ago, rendering oceans was reason enough to seek an Oscar." The article starts as an overview, but as it progresses, it gets steadily more technical. Thanks Richard W.

Steam Top 10

Valve offers the following list of the 10 bestselling games on Steam for this past week:

  1. Arma II: Combined Operations
  2. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
  3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  4. Borderland 2
  5. Far Cry 3
  6. Torchlight II
  7. Counter-Strike Global Offensive
  8. Spec Ops: The Line
  9. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  10. Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Sunday Consolidation

Sunday Mobilization

Sunday Metaverse

Sunday Tech Bits

Sunday Safety Dance

Sunday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

One home team and one road team won yesterday, just like I picked it, but I was still 0-2 in what's turning out to be a remarkably unimpressive attempt at predicting the NFL playoffs. The games were wonderfully competitive though, living up to the cliché that the divisional round is the best week of football of the season. Here's hoping today's games are equally entertaining.

R.I.P.: Eugene Patterson, 89, voice on civil rights, dies.
R.I.P.: World's oldest woman dies at 115.

Entertaining Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Steppin' Stones.
Links: This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Stories: Fla. 'python challenge' draws about 800 hunters. Thanks brother19.
Images: May cause seizures.
Media: Science is Pretty Freaking Awesome!.
Awesome Double Donuts: Guy Drifts Two BMWs Simultaneously.
The Funnies: When your house is burning down, you should brush your teeth - The Oatmeal.
EXTRALIFE – By Scott Johnson - The K is for Krave.
The thing about tablets…
Follow-up: Family blames US attorneys for death of Aaron Swartz.
Haiti quietly marks 3rd anniversary of quake.



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