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Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

  

Disney Infinity Announced

Disney Interactive announces Disney Infinity, a game platform in development at Avalanche Software they call their "most ambitious gaming initiative" which will allow "players to both experience original adventures in some of their favorite Disney and Pixar worlds and to build their own worlds using the power of their imagination." This is set to roll out in June for consoles and a phased rollout will follow "across mobile and online devices throughout 2013." The Disney Infinity Website is already happily counting down the seconds, and will continue to do so over the next 136 days, and it also offers this trailer introducing the concept, and the game logos this concludes with do not include a PC logo, so this may not be among the online devices the game will support. "Disney Infinity introduces a new way to interact with the best of Disney on one game platform, both now and in the future," said John Pleasants, co-president, Disney Interactive. "With this innovative approach to gaming, Disney Infinity will bring to life new characters, stories and environments from The Walt Disney Company over time in a way that will delight fans and gamers alike." This project has inspired immediate comparisons to Activision's Skylander‘s franchise, and VG247 notes a Forbes article with a quote from Activison saying this has them flattered, but that they are "well positioned to continue leading the category."

Ships Ahoy - Assassin’s Creed III: The Battle Hardened Pack

The Ubisoft Online Store Online as well as places like GameStop PC Downloads and Steam now offer Assassin’s Creed III: The Battle Hardened Pack, a multiplayer expansion for Ubisoft's assassination sequel:

The Battle Hardened Pack extends the Assassin’s Creed® III multiplayer experience with three new playable characters and maps, plus awesome bonus items! Become the influential Governor, the resilient Highlander, or the fearsome Coyote Man. Journey through Charlestown, Fort St-Mathieu, and Saint Pierre as you stalk your enemies and fight to protect your team. Rally your troop, discover your power in numbers, and ignite the revolution!

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation Patched

Steam News announces the release of a new automatic patch for Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, The Farm 51's first-person shooter. The change notes are pretty extensive, outlining balance changes, bug fixes, level improvements, the UI, and multiplayer.

New Warzone 2100

The Warzone 2100 Website now has new versions 3.1.0 of Warzone 2100 for Windows, OS X, and Linux, the latest stable versions of this freeware real-time strategy game. Word is: "This release has been very long in coming, and brings along over 2 1/2 years worth of bug fixes and improvements." The downloads are mirrored on Gamer's Hell.

MechWarrior Online Double XP Weekend

Infinite Game Publishing and Piranha Games announce the release of a new Spider mech to MechWarrior Online, their free-to-play multiplayer mech shooter. This comes with word that this will be a double-XP weekend in the game:

Infinite Game Publishing and Piranha Games launched one of the fiercest and quickest Mechs into the InnerSphere today as the Spider Mech made its way into the MechWarrior Online store. Available now, Spider is one of the most maneuverable and agile of all Light Mechs with a whopping eight jumpjets and an unmatched turning radius. Spider pilots can create nightmares for pilots of heavier Mechs on the battlefield; this is the time to watch your back!

In addition to the Spider becoming available, an exciting 3-day in-game event is coming Friday, January 18 at 10 am Pacific – the first-ever MechWarrior Online Double XP event. Scheduled to run the duration of the weekend, MechWarrior pilots will hunker down at home in order to defend and conquer in the InnerSphere. The event concludes on Monday, January 21 at 10 am Pacific. To truly maximize XP earning potential, MechWarrior pilots can stack up other XP-boosting techniques such as their Founder benefits, Premium Time and Hero Mech XP-boosts to unlock powerful pilot enhancements quickly.

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Gary Busey Explains Hobbits. Thanks Ant.

Crusader Kings II Expansion, DLC, and Patch Released

Paradox Interactive announces the release of Crusader Kings II: The Republic, the third expansion for Crusader Kings II, the strategy/RPG sequel. In related notes, a new patch is now available to update Crusader Kings II to version 1.09 (this extensive post outlines what this does), and PC Gamer notes a Fredrik Wester tweet about Linux support in the series: "Dear Twitter followers, it seems I haven't told you that Crusader Kings 2 is available for Linux." In addition to The Republic expansion, two smaller DLC packs are also now available on most digital portals. Crusader Kings II: Songs of Prosperity contains three new songs, and Crusader Kings II: Mediterranean Portraits contains thousands of unique face combos for male and female characters. Here's word on The Republic:

Crusader Kings II: The Republic introduces the great merchant Republics of medieval Europe as playable entities for the first time. A fresh, new experience from playing as a feudal region in Crusader Kings II, players adopt the role as the head, or Patrician, of one of the five great merchant families in the Republic as they build trade posts and expand provincial empires while attempting to assert dominance over the other rival families, Republics and feudal lords.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Patched

The StarCraft II Website announces that a new version 1.5.4 patch is now automatically available for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard's real-time strategy sequel. This is moot at this very moment, as Battle.net is down for scheduled maintenance (perhaps the installation of this very patch), but in the meantime, players can read about changes the new version brings. Here are the patch 1.5.3 notes, and here's an overview: Continue here to read the full story.

The Witcher 3 Hint?

Thewitcher.com has an update on the REDkit beta, which is testing the upcoming mod tools for The Witcher 2. The update seems deliberately devoid of any new details, and seems to be an excuse to post the related image, which is reinforced by this reference: "Oh, and if you are wondering what’s that in that picture above – well, we’ll leave it for your imagination to answer. :)" The forum participants have quickly answered that this is Geralt's sword hilt, leading to speculation that this is related to the recently teased reveal coming on February 5th that many are assuming is related to The Witcher series of RPGs, possibly The Witcher 3. Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Guild Wars 2 Sells 3 Million; Future Plans Outlined

GuildWars2.com offers word from ArenaNet's Colin Johanson about what the coming months hold for Guild Wars 2, their MMORPG sequel, accompanied by a video on the same topic. The post is pretty long, going into their philosophy in outlying how it will be realized this year, and giving detail on subjects like world events, rewards, WvW combat, and more. This comes along with word from ArenaNet on the game's retail success, as they announce Guild Wars 2 has sold over three million copies to date. Continue here to read the full story.

The Cave This Month

SEGA announces a January 23rd release date for the Windows edition of The Cave (as well as the Mac and Linux editions, thanks DrEvil) Double Fine's upcoming Ron Gilbert-designed adventure game. That is the same day to expect the Xbox LIVE Arcade edition, and the day after the game is released for PlayStation Network and the Wii U eShop. Word is: "Named GameInformer’s Best Adventure Game of E3 2012, The Cave is a new adventure game from Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion creator Ron Gilbert, and Double Fine Productions, the award-winning studio behind Psychonauts and Brütal Legend. Players can assemble their team of three from seven unlikely adventures, each with their own unique personalities and stories, and then descend into the mysterious depths of The Cave."

Steam Greenlight Adds 10 Games

The Steam Greenlight Blog announces the latest projects to be approved for sale on Steam, saying more than 60 titles have now been green lit by this program since it launched in August. Here's a full list of Steam Greenlight games, and here are the newly added ones:

  • Akaneiro: Demon Hunters
  • Asylum
  • DLC Quest
  • Eador. Masters of the Broken World
  • La-Mulana
  • Leisure Suit Larry
  • MaK
  • The Age of Decadence
  • Unepic
  • War For The Overworld

BioShock Infinite PC Details & Specs

Irrational Games has details about PC support in BioShock Infinite, their upcoming first-person shooter sequel. They discuss the ability to use the mouse and keyboard or one of three different setups for traitors using controllers. There are also details on graphics, including support for DirectX 11, noting that the game's "unadulterated, full-resolution textures" result in a three DVD installation, saying they "hope you will appreciate the jaw-dropping detail our amazing team of artists lavished on the game." This also reveals PC specifications, both minimum and recommended:

MINIMUM

  • OS: Windows Vista Service Pack 2 32-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 DUO 2.4 GHz / AMD Athlon X2 2.7 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB
  • Hard Drive: 20 GB free
  • Video Card: DirectX10 Compatible ATI Radeon HD 3870 / NVIDIA 8800 GT / Intel HD 3000 Integrated Graphics
  • Video Card Memory: 512 MB
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

RECOMMENDED

  • OS: Windows 7 Service Pack 1 64-bit
  • Processor: Quad Core Processor
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Hard Drive: 30 GB free
  • Video Card: DirectX11 Compatible, AMD Radeon HD 6950 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560
  • Video Card Memory: 1024 MB
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

Bohemia Interactive Devs Make Bail

Helpivanmartin.org has word that Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar, the pair of Bohemia Interactive developers arrested in September in Myrina, Greece for Espionage, have been granted the bail they were previously denied, and are headed home to the Czech Republic (thanks VG247 via Dean Hall's Twitter). Here's word on what's going down from their translation of a Czech article:

As a result of repeated dealings, today the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras informed Czech PM Petr Nečas over the telephone that the two Czech arrested by Greek police because of supposed photography of military objects on the island of Lemnos have been released. Both can now return back to the Czech Republic. PM Petr Nečas expressed appreciation for the efforts of PM Antonis Samaras and thanked him,” said Petr Nečas’ spokesperson Michal Schuster on Tuesday.

Both men aged 28 and 33 years, who work for a video game-producing company Bohemia Interactive faced up to 20 years in prison if they were convicted.

The men supposedly rerecorded and photographed strategic military objects to be used in an upcoming military shooter.

After Bohemia Interactive denied that its employees were in Greece and illegally obtained photos as part of their work, the Czech President Václav Klaus also sided with them when he sent a letter to his Greek counterpart Karlos Papoulias with a request for their release.

Ships Ahoy - Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt

2K Games and Gearbox Software announce the release of Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt, the new DLC for the Windows and console editions of Borderlands 2, the role-playing shooter sequel. This is included for season pass holders, or available as a separate purchase for other owners of the game. Here's word on what this adds:

Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt takes place in Aegrus, the uncharted territory deep in the swamps of Pandora and features new appearances by familiar friends like Sir Hammerlock and Claptrap. It also introduces some all-new characters, like Hyperion Scientist Professor Nakayama, who wants nothing more than to derail your hunting trip. With Borderlands 2’s cheeky adventurer as their guide, vault hunters will explore the all-new environments of The Sun Swamps while on memorable quests to collect irresistible new loot and fight devastating new bosses, such as the cave-dwelling beast Thermitage. All the while, up to four friends will cooperatively hunt down new enemies such as the spider-like Two-Legged Drifters, flying Slagged Spores and insane Vampire Witch Doctors – that unleash swarms of blood-thirsty bats. Vault hunters beware: this is sure to be the most dangerous Borderlands hunt yet!

Indie Jam Bundle #2

Bundle Stars has launched "Indie Jam," bundle #2, the latest entry in the increasingly crowded field of indie game charity bundles. This features ten games, including Trapped Dead, Unstoppable Gorg, Grotesque Tactics, and two titles which are yet to be revealed at 95% off the full price if purchased separately. A portion of the proceeds will go to SpecialEffect, "Helping people with disabilities to enjoy computer games." This trailer offers a look at the bundle.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron XP Boost

The High Moon Studios Blog has a short announcement saying the rate at which players gain experience in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will be "indefinitely" doubled going forward (thanks Computer and Video Games). Word is: "Fall of Cybertron players can now accelerate their multiplayer experience, indefinitely. The XP rate has been set to 2X. This is the perfect opportunity for new players to join the elite ranks or for experienced players to level up new classes."

Majesco Layoffs

Majesco Entertainment has closed its Boston studio amid company-wide layoffs, reports Develop, noting the Zumba publisher's recent disappointing fourth quarter as a factor in the moves. They say severance pay and restructuring costs will run from $700,000 to $1 million, and that going forward the company will focus on mobile games developed by their internal Southern California studio and external developers.

American McGee Interview

An interview on Gaming Nexus talks with American McGee of Spicy Horse about Akaneiro: Demon Hunters, their action/RPG that's currently in open beta testing and the subject of a current Kickstarter Campaign. They focus on the Kickstart, discussing the attention it's bringing to the project in addition to funding, the reasons for a fundraiser for a completed game, and thoughts on the future of crowdsourcing.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Commercial

The SEGA Blog offers a first look at an upcoming television commercial for Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox's upcoming first-person shooter. I keep trying to watch, but after owning a DVR for years, I keep reflexively skipping to the end. Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Q&As

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

How weird is it that I talked about my Bolognese sauce obsession on the same day the BBC posted an article on the cuisine of Bologna with the humorous title Where vegetarianism is an exotic illness? Bologna sounds like my kind of place.

(Gripe removed - I hate griping.)

Meaty Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Fractured.
Stories: Natalie Wood may have had bruises before drowning.
Science: Reshaping the brain- scientists reprogram neurons after birth.
The clouds are alive as microbes fly unfriendly skies.
Images: Password Change.
Media: R´ha. Thanks HARDOCP.
Arrested Development Season 4 Trailer (parody).
The Really Useful Guide To Alcohol - Rowan Atkinson.
The Funnies: Whomp! - The Forbidden Pants. Thanks JDreyer.

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.



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