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Friday, Jan 18, 2013

  

SimCity Beta This Month

The SimCity Website is accepting registrations to test the upcoming reboot of the urban planning series. Here's word on the beta, which will run from January 25-28:

The day that Mayors have been clamoring for is almost here - Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) today announced that the SimCity™ beta will run from January 25 – January 28. Those who previously signed up are already in consideration for access to the beta, limited slots are still available for late applicants. Eager fans who want to get an advance look at SimCity have a limited time to sign up at www.simcity.com/beta before the application process ends at 2am, GMT on January 21. Developed by Maxis, SimCity will be available March 8 and is available for pre-order right now.

“It is always an exciting moment to share a game that is still in development with its biggest fans prior to launch,” said Lucy Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA’s Maxis Label. “This beta will help the team improve the live service aspects of SimCity to ensure a smooth and user-friendly experience at launch. I want to thank everyone for signing up - we are excited to share one of our most beloved franchises with our fans.”

Running from 5pm GMT on January 25 until 8am GMT on January 28, the SimCity beta offers fans the chance to play a one hour slice of the game** and to deliver feedback that will help shape the final product. As a live service, SimCity will continue to provide updates that evolve the experience, delivering a dynamic platform that grows and expands over time.

Skyrim Dragonborn Next Month

The Bethesda Blog has word that the Windows and PlayStation 3 editions of the Dragonborn DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released next month. The PC edition is expected on February 5th and the PS3 edition does not have an exact date, but they say all three DLC packs should be out for Sony's system by the end of February.

Dungeonland This Month

Paradox Announces a one week setback to Dungeonland, saying the game will get some last-minute polish before it is released on January 29th:

Today we're announcing that upcoming hack ‘n’ slash title, Dungeonland, will have its launch postponed by one week. Originally slated for release on January 22, the irreverent co-op game will be available on leading distribution channels come January 29.

As we continue our quest to ensure game experiences on day one are as pleasant as possible, we're making a few last minute updates before releasing the game to the masses. We work around the clock for our devoted community, and we appreciate everyone’s patience here as we get things finalized.

Gas Powered Games Layoffs

Gas Powered Games has laid of some staff shortly after the launch of their Wildman Kickstarter seeking $1.1 million for a new action/RPG. This is reported by Kotaku, who confirmed that the company has cut some staff with honcho Chris Taylor after getting wind of them through the grapevine. Taylor did not confirm the extent of the layoffs, however, so there are dramatic elements to the Kotaku report which remain speculative, as one source told them these were due to the Kickstarter underperforming, while other sources have told them that almost everyone who worked for the company was let go. There's a follow up to this on Gamasutra. "The studio is still operating, but we had to slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves," Chris Taylor confirmed for them, confirming some earlier comments that they are all in on Wildman: "We spent all the last dough that we've had, and the last several months working on it. So we're betting the company on it."

Might & Magic Heroes VI Shades of Darkness Preorder Bonuses

Ubisoft reveals the bonuses for those who preorder Might & Magic Heroes VI Shades of Darkness, the upcoming standalone expansion for Might & Magic Heroes VI, their strategy sequel. Those who preorder via the Uplay shop will receive a Master of all Darkness pack containing:

The Angel of Death pack – an exclusive hero and his weapon:

  • The exclusive hero Belketh
  • His unique weapon: the Dragonbone staff

The Dynasty Armory pack – two dynasty weapons:

  • the Dragon Flametongue
  • the Perfect Silksword

An Exclusive Dynasty Weapon:

  • The Staff of Sar Aggreth

World of Warcraft PTR Updated

Blizzard announces changes to the upcoming version 5.2 patch for World of Warcraft on the Public Test Realm for the MMORPG. The notes now include additions and deletions dated yesterday reflecting the most current state of the update. The lastest update about this patch suggests it's still weeks from going live.

Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space Patch

The Infinite Space Website has a new patch to update Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space to version 1.30. Here's word on what this changes in Digital Eel's spacey sequel: "The update swaps Eelmix for OpenAL, fixes a potential crash bug involving alien fleets without homeworlds (Tchorak, Ravian) and tweaks/brightens up the ship graphics a little to make them more visible."

On Sale

GameSpot notes that THQ games are no longer available for preorder on GameStop PC Downloads due to "uncertainty of delivery."

Evening Q&As

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Wildman Footage

The Kickstarter page for Wildman offers a second update about Gas Powered Games' proposed evolutionary action/RPG. They respond to requests to see the game in action with Video Update #1 showing prototype gameplay and featuring Chris Taylor overcoming his camera shyness to answer further inquiries about their plans. Oddly the in-game footage is shot second-hand off a monitor, allowing us to pretend this is leaked shakycam footage of an E3 presentation or something illicit like that. Continue here to read the full story.

Vendetta Online Kickstarter

This Kickstarter seeks funding for an iPad edition of Vendetta Online, Guild Software's multiplatform space combat MMORPG. In addition to this new tablet version, they outline other goals that will impact the game in its entirety: "All players and platforms share the same universe within Vendetta Online, so iOS users will rub elbows with those on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and WinRT. Beyond iPad support, the Kickstarter could also help fund the next major expansion of the title's gameplay, including enhanced player-owned capital ships and territorial conquest, and is scheduled for completion near the end of 2013."

New AMD/ATI Reference Drivers

The AMD Support Hub now offers new version 13.1 WHQL-certified reference drivers for AMD/ATI graphics cards. These offer new a 3D settings and profile management user interface, all the performance improvements and bug fixes introduced in the Catalyst 12.11 beta 11 along with Ubuntu 12.10 production support. They also offer a new standalone un-installation utility that will remove all traces of an existing Catalyst installation, since graphics card drivers can be difficult about things like that. All the downloads are neatly grouped on this page.

Codemasters Faces Layoffs

Codemasters is undergoing a consultancy that could result in layoffs, reports GamesIndustry International, saying that cuts would center on the company's digital and publishing efforts. They say a "strong source" tells them about 80 out of 500 positions may be cut, mostly from Codemasters' Southam studio responsible for racing games. They also have an official comment: "As the Company realigns its operations to focus on areas of increased strategic importance and decrease resources in areas that are not delivering value for the business, the Company has proposed the restructure of certain aspects within its digital development and publishing units in line with future product strategy," reads the official statement. "As a result of the proposed restructure, the Company has therefore entered into a period of collective consultation with the affected employees. The restructure is not company-wide and is not anticipated to impact the development of its core console and PC titles such as GRID 2 or its annual FORMULA ONE title."

WoW PvP Gear Preview

Blizzard unveils new details on changes coming "in the relatively near future" to PvP gear in World of Warcraft, their MMORPG. They outline the reasoning for changing how gear is handled for PvP beginning with the upcoming version 5.2 patch and give an idea of the changes this will involve. All this is explained by the general goals of "making PvP more accessible and less punishing, gearing more consistent and flexible, and flattening the power curve out over the course of a season."

Akaneiro: Demon Hunters Beta Extended

Open beta testing of Akaneiro: Demon Hunters will be extended through January 22nd, reports VG247, so there is more time to act for those interested in this upcoming/RPG from American McGee's Spicy Horse Studios. To sign up for the beta, head over to this page.

New Evochron Mercenary

This downloads page now offers an updated version 2.288 of Evochron Mercenary, the space combat and exploration game from indie developer StarWraith 3D games. Here are the changes in the new version, which is also available as a trial version: Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

Huffington Post - Video Games Hold No Answers.
If there was any truly meaningful link between homicide and media exposure from any source, then by now one would have seen a whole body of supportive forensic research being used in our courts. If any of this research being trotted out now held even a glimmer of hope for a person accused of murder, attorneys all over the country would be mounting vigorous defenses based upon this connection -- but we haven't. And the reason we haven't is that the connection between the psychological and behavioral dynamics of youth homicide and violent video games and violent movies is simply not there.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

  • The EU edition of DragonNest begins closed beta testing on February 27th…
  • Pirate-themed, browser-based MMOG Kartuga is also now accepting beta signups…

Out of the Blue

Happy Internet Freedom Day. Thanks GamePolitics. And thanks Internet.

Well, with three more games left in the NFL season I have no chance of getting even in the playoffs. A perfect run from here on out would just even me up for a 1-3 week last week, but what can you do? Yes, pick better, I know. Speaking of picking better, almost everyone else faired better than I. Here are last week's results: Verno, Topevoli, sauron, and Creston 3-1; dj LiTh, Jivaro, Cutter, and Batman 2-2; and mag was also 1-3.

This week: Patriots and 49ers.

Free Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Westerado.
Dr. Vile: The Greater Good.
Stories: Rumors Of "Gremlins" Being Rebooted.
Clash guitarist [sic] Joe Strummer honored with plaza in Spain. Thanks Walter Ego.
Te'o mentioned 'girlfriend' twice recently.
Science: Tiny pill joins the battle of the bushfires. Thanks Slashdot.
Armstrong admits doping- 'I'm a flawed character'.
Media: How The Hobbit Should Have Ended.
Portal's "Still Alive", Performed By Guild Wars 2.
Skyrim Moving Company.

Thursday, Jan 17, 2013

Ships Ahoy - Ghost Recon Future Soldier Raven Strike DLC

The Raven Strike DLC is now available for Ghost Recon Future Soldier, offering some throwback gameplay in the shooter sequel. The pack is available on the Ubisoft Online Store and other digital distributors. Here's word on what it offers:

The second downloadable content: Raven Strike DLC Pack is a throwback to traditional Ghost Recon gameplay. It features larger maps, complex missions and an increased level of difficulty. There are three campaign missions and a new Guerilla Mode map, each playable with up to four players.

Magicka Free Weekend, DLC, Sale

Steam News announces a free weekend is now underway for Magicka, coinciding with a sale on the game and the release of a new free DLC pack. Also, Paradox sends word that the game has now sold over 1.8 million units since its launch a year ago. Here' word on the free weekend and DLC:

Play Magicka for FREE starting now through Sunday at 1PM Pacific Time. You can also pickup Magicka at 75% off the regular price!

There's even more free action with the new DLC Free Jólnir's Workshop, A “chilling” new challenge with 20 waves of blizzards and beasts. Help Jólnir reclaim his workshop from all new creatures while battling the harsh weather at the same time.

More on CD Projekt RED's Upcoming Announcement

This trailer from CD Projekt RED features pen-and-paper RPG creator Mike Poundsmith explaining the underpinnings of the RPG system in Cyberpunk 2077, the upcoming computer RPG. There's also an extensive feature here on the making of the recent teaser trailer for the game. Speaking of which, we have more from CD Projekt RED studio head Adam Badowski on the hidden tease for a February 5th announcement, which many think will be related to The Witcher series:

Many gaming fans noticed the hidden message in one frame of the teaser trailer. “As you may know, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t the only title we are working on. Those of you who watched the teaser trailer carefully know that something big is coming on the 5th of February. Everything will be clearer on that day. Right now I can only say that, for the first time in the history of our studio, it will be a fully open-world game (just like Cyberpunk will be). We also remember our games’ trademark engrossing and non-linear storytelling. In the studio, the strong bond of these two elements - an open world and a captivating tale - is what everyone is trying to achieve. Both Cyberpunk 2077 and the second game draw upon these two pillars to bring our vision of a perfect RPG to life,” comments Badowski

Legend of Grimrock Hints

The Legend of Grimrock Website has a recap from Almost Human on 2012 and a look ahead to what this year holds for them and their dungeon crawler (thanks Joao). This includes a hint about what's next, offering a couple of screenshots that look like DLC or an expansion. Word is: "We thought we could share with you a glimpse of some new exiting things we’ve been working on. But beware, this is only the tip of the iceberg."

TF2 Characters Get Racy

SEGA announces the upcoming release of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed will include Team Fortress 2 among its collection of all stars:

SEGA® of America Inc. and SEGA® Europe are excited to confirm Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed™ will indeed feature characters from acclaimed developer Valve allowing players to race for first place as the Pyro, Heavy and Spy from Team Fortress 2. Available for PC digital download on January 31, 2013 Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed™ will also feature two other new and exclusive characters all of whom are available to play as from the start of the game.

Joining Team Fortress in the PC version of the game is the legendary Shogun of the Total War™ series from Creative Assembly™ and the enigmatic Manager Man from Sports Interactive™’s successful Football Manager™ series.

The Showdown Effect Trailer, Tagline Generator

Paradox has launched a new official website for The Showdown Effect, featuring a Tagline Randomizer that will make your day. Following that theme, they also offer a new movie trailer trailer from the upcoming action platformer from Arrowhead Game Studios. Those interested in participating in their open beta testing can sign up here.

Evening Q&As

On Sale

  • Anno 2070 on Steam. Save 60%.
  • Governor of Poker 2 - Premium Edition on Steam. Save 75%.

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: My dog can Skype! (Original). Thanks nin. Terriers are so awesome.

Jay Wilson Leaving Diablo III

The Diablo III Forums have an announcement from Jay Wilson that he is transitioning away from Diablo III to a different project within Blizzard (thanks IncGamers). He expresses pride in the project he's spent seven years on, though he has often served as a lightning rod for fan reactions to the game and how its design departed from previous installments in the action/RPG series. Here's a bit on what this means for the future:

The first thing I want to assure you all is that this will not negatively impact our ongoing support of Diablo III. The game was not made by one person, far from it, and the team that poured their passion and considerable talent into it isn't going anywhere. We have lots of things planned for the future, and those plans will carry forward as normal. I also won't be abandoning the team, and will remain available to them during the transition period while we determine who will take over duties as game director.

To that point, you shouldn't be surprised if you see a job posting for a game director on Diablo III, as we want to make sure we explore every opportunity to find the best possible leadership for the project. We're looking forward to finding this person and hearing what kind of fresh ideas they can bring to the table.

I'm proud of Diablo III, and despite our differences at times I will miss the community that has formed around it. I feel I have made many mistakes in managing that relationship, but my intent was always to provide a great gaming experience, and be as open and receptive as possible, while still sticking true to the vision the Diablo team has for the game.

I know some of you feel we fell short of our promise to release the game "when it's ready." While we're not perfect, we try to make the best decisions we can with the information and knowledge we have at the time. That doesn't mean we always make the right decisions, but if we made a mistake then I feel we've made an exceptional effort to correct it.

Steam Strategy Guides Launch

Valve announces the launch of Steam Guides, offering player created strategy aides:

Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the launch of Steam Guides, a new capability of the platform that allows players to create and/or find guides for their favorite games or Software titles on Steam.

Steam Guides lets players create and share guides, walkthroughs, and tips for their favorite games or software to help others who might be stuck or who simply want to learn more about the game. Players may easily create guides through Steam, where they may upload images, add screenshots, and embed YouTube videos. Guides are then quickly accessible through Steam, via the Steam Community and in-game via the Steam Overlay.

Warface Closed Beta Underway

Trion Worlds announces closed beta testing of Warface is underway, preparing the way for the release of Crytek's free-to-play shooter this spring. Thos interested in participating are urged to sign up on the Warface Website. Here are some details:

Trion Worlds, the leading publisher and developer of premium games for the connected era, today kicks off the closed beta for Warface, the upcoming free-to-play shooter, in cooperation with renowned developer and co-publisher Crytek GmbH (Crytek). Warface will be accessed through GFACE®, Crytek’s social entertainment platform that is designed to enable its users to play games together live and to discover and share entertainment content with friends. The Warface beta servers are scheduled to be open from January 17 at 9:00am PST / 5pm GMT until the official Warface launch in Spring 2013.

“Trion Worlds and Crytek have been working closely to bring Warface to Western players looking for a first-person shooter with striking graphical detail and unsurpassed gameplay – for free,” said Dirk Metzger, General Manager Publishing at Crytek. “We look forward to making the experience even more engaging as waves of pre-registered players are invited to join the Closed Beta and play their part in shaping Warface ahead of its final launch.” Players looking for fast-paced, exhilarating multiplayer and co-op gameplay, from one of the world’s most renowned first-person shooter studios, who have not yet registered can still do so at: www.warface.com.

The game casts players as part of Warface, a select unit of elite warriors that have banded together to fight Blackwood – the ruling brute-force government. Featuring intense first-person shooter co-op and competitive multiplayer gameplay, with regularly added new content, Warface gives players plenty of level-up opportunities and various upgrades, keeping you on your toes and forcing you to switch up your combat strategies in the heat of battle.

Learn more about Warface at www.warface.com

Trials Evolution: Gold Edition in March

Ubisoft announces a March 21st release date for Trials Evolution: Gold Edition, the upcoming Windows edition of RedLynx's signature racing franchise. This comes with word that the franchise has sold more than four million copies on consoles to date. Here's word on what to expect from the PC version:

Trials Evolution: Gold Edition will include the complete, critically acclaimed game Trials Evolution, specially enhanced for PC, plus all of the Trials HD tracks, recreated using Trials Evolution's graphics and physics engine. All the features that are the foundation of the unique Trials experience will be included in the game:

  • Global Leader Boards
  • Local and Online 4-Player Multiplayer
  • Robust and Powerful Track Editor
  • Indoor and Outdoor environments
  • Bike and Rider customizations
  • More than 129 Tracks

Democracy 3 Announced

Positech Games announces Democracy 3, a new upcoming installment in their political strategy series. The game is to ship sometime this year, so we can expect more details soon. In the meantime, there's an accompanying post on Cliffski's Blog discussing the series, and here is what we know about this for now:

Positech Games is today announcing that their next game will be a sequel to their popular and unique political strategy game Democracy 2. In a sudden flash of revolutionary inspiration, the new game will be called... Democracy 3.

A lot has changed in the world of politics since Positech first suffered the mental anguish of programming Democracy 2. We have had a global credit crunch and financial crisis, the occupy movement, the Arab spring, and mobile phones have got slightly smaller, then larger again.

Democracy 3 will be a massively improved and updated version of the game that will reflect changes in both gaming tastes and the world of politics. Despite sharing the basic GUI design of earlier games in the series, Democracy 3 is being built on a complete ground-up re-engineering of the custom-built neural network engine used to power the complex simulation beneath the hood of the game. Improvements will be equal parts graphical and simulation based, with greater freedom to use both private/free market solutions to problems as well as more accurate simulation of financial markets, voter cynicism and much more.

The ship date for the game is currently set as '2013'. (We would make a more precise prediction but it would be about as reliable as a government budget forecast).

You will be pleased to know that developer cliff harris finally decided not to change his name to 'fiscal cliff' as a PR stunt. More details to come over the next few months and also at www.cliffski.com. In the meantime, political animals can feast upon the political goodness of Democracy 2 at www.positech.co.uk/democracy2 or grab the existing game from steam at http://store.steampowered.com/app/218040/

No Tomb Raider Prelaunch Demo

Karl Stewart tweets the announcement that the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot will not include a prerelease demo, because they "don't want to spoil the story" (or maybe they don't want to take any more flack over it). Word is: "For all those @tombraider fans asking. There are no plans to release a demo of the game pre-launch. We don't want to spoil the story........" Thanks GamesRadar.

Halo 2 PC Server Shutdown Next Month

The Halo Bulletin has a lengthy post on the author's gaffe in not recognizing a YouTube star, details on season 2 of Spartan Ops, and word on next week's matchmaking playlist update (thanks Eurogamer). Buried way at the bottom is the announcement that February 15th will see the closure of multiplayer servers for the PC edition of Halo 2 (forever to be known as the game that failed to force you to upgrade to Vista). If you are impacted by this, then you and 19 other players are not at fault here:

To switch gears ever so slightly, we’re sad to report that the service end-date for Halo 2 PC Multiplayer will be February 15, 2013. We’ve been monitoring the population for months, and it’s been peaking consistently at approximately 20 players or less. Those that own this game can continue to enjoy Multiplayer over LAN after that date; however our network services will be turned off at that time. We love you, Halo 2 PC, and you will live forever in our hearts.

Disney Infinity Details, Including Pricing

There's more on Disney's newly unveiled Disney Infinity platform on Joystiq, including an apparent confirmation that Windows PCs are one of the project's target platforms. They have further details on how this will work, including first word on the physical toys which are part of all of this, as well as word on pricing, which is not modest: "After the starter pack with three figures, priced at $74.99, Play Sets will be available for $34.99, with Power Discs available in a pack starting at $4.99. It's not hard to imagine Disney leveraging Infinity on its other ventures as well: Go see Monsters University, get a special exclusive Power Disc. Go visit Disneyland, pick yourself up an exclusive figure. Disney's reps wouldn't confirm any plans like that, but they did smile and nod when asked." Thanks nin.

Free DLC with Dishonored Purchase

The Bethesda Blog announces that those who purchase Dishonored at a GameStop retail location will be rewarded for their retro shopping habits with a free copy of the Dunwall City Trials DLC for Arkane's stealth/assassination game: "Haven’t picked up Dishonored yet? Between now and January 27th, GameStop is giving away Dishonored’s first DLC, Dunwall City Trials, as well as the official game guide from Brady Games, to anyone that purchases Dishonored on PC, PlayStation 3, or Xbox 360."

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

Everyone was getting into the car this morning to take MrsBlue to the train when our neighbor from across the street emerged to head off to work. This is irresistible to Hudson the wonder dog, so our friendly pooch ran over to greet her, leading to an extended conversation/disengagement amid all sorts of neighborly pleasantries. It was only after I got back home that I realized that I was wearing pajama pants, which are decorated with flames and red chili peppers. I guess I can hope it was dark enough that she didn't notice, but I guess it's hard to imagine that she doesn't think I'm a little eccentric already.

Eccentric Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: King's Game 2.
Links: Doomsday Clock Holds at 5 'Til Midnight. Thanks Cutter and Alan Moore.
Science: First Known 'Social Chromosome' Found. Thanks Slashdot.
Possible New Species of Spider Builds Decoys of Itself.
Images: Random BMG photos.
Media: Parrot Singing In The Shower.
Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig presenting a Golden Globe.
Rally Driver Stops to Say Sorry.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Scientists Cartoon - Savage Chickens.
Twaggies Comic Strip.



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