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Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013

  

Ubisoft Confirms THQ Montreal Acquisition

Confirming part of an earlier report, Ubisoft announces the acquisition of THQ Montreal along with the publishing rights to South Park: The Stick of Truth, seemingly in spite of the contention of South Park Digital Studios that the rights to the game are not transferrable. It is apparently not clear if this marks designer Patrice Desilets' return to Ubisoft after a a departure that lead to some litigation. Here's word:

Today, Ubisoft announced the acquisition of THQ Montreal as well as the publishing rights for the upcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth video game, being developed externally by Obsidian.

"This deal adds experienced developers to our internal creative teams at a key moment in the cycle of the video game industry," said Yannis Mallat, president of Ubisoft Montreal.

THQ Montreal In addition to the team at THQ Montreal, Ubisoft also acquired a new, yet-to-be announced IP in development at the studio. THQ Montreal will join Ubisoft's development teams, already the second-largest in-house development staff in the world with 26 studios in 19 countries and more than 6,250 people dedicated to video game production.

South Park: The Stick of Truth South Park: The Stick of Truth is being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, and is scheduled for release in calendar 2013.

This acquisition has no material impact on Ubisoft's current fiscal year (2012/13).

Path of Exile Open Beta

Grinding Gear Games announces today open beta testing is now underway for Path of Exile, their upcoming action/RPG. Since there will be no character wipes going forward, this can be considered a soft launch for the free-to-play game. Here's word:

Path of Exile is a PC online action role-playing game set in a dark fantasy world. Featuring ethical microtransactions, the game is free-to-play, but not pay-to-win. Playing as one of six character classes, players find themselves banished for their past misdeeds to the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast. There, they will encounter hundreds of species of opponents laden with loot and mysterious artifacts as they explore the abandoned continent.

Key features of Path of Exile:

  • A dark and deep action RPG
  • Build unlimited unique characters on a gigantic skill tree
  • Combine over 110 skill gems to create unique combat strategies
  • Explore a dark and gritty world rendered from a fixed 3D perspective
  • Download and play for free, but never 'pay-to-win'
  • Explore randomly generated levels for extreme replayability
  • Craft weapons, magic items and even end-game maps to become more powerful
  • Cooperate or compete with thousands of other exiles in a persistent online world
  • Ascend online ladders in every game mode
  • Battle in PVP tournaments for worldwide recognition

Crysis 3 Open Beta This Month

EA announces beta testing for Crysis 3 will commence on January 29th for the Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 editions of Crytek's first-person shooter sequel. Here are details on testing:

Beginning on January 29 and ending on February 12 the Crysis 3 multiplayer beta will feature two of the eight modes included in Crysis 3. In Crash Site, players must secure and defend specific locations, earning points along the way for kills and their ability to hold those locations. The exciting, all-new Hunter mode makes its debut in Crysis 3. This asymmetrical, time based mode pits two players vs. ten (two vs. 14 on PC) in matches that begin with two cloaked hunters stalking 10 opposing CELL troopers. Armed only with enhanced Nanosuits and the lethal Predator bow, hunters must systematically stalk and kill the CELL operatives, who in turn must work together as a team as they fight to stay alive before the round ends. The twist is that once a CELL trooper is killed, that player will then respawn as a hunter, joining the others in their attempt to eliminate the remaining CELL operatives before the clock strikes zero. The Crysis 3 multiplayer beta will also showcase two of the game’s twelve visually stunning maps, Airport and Museum. Both will provide players a taste of the lush, urban rainforest and tactical sandbox that awaits them under the Liberty Dome of New York City.

Also included in the Crysis 3 multiplayer beta is the New York Feed, a brand new in-game social feed that will showcase the accomplishments of gamers and their friends while offering dynamic challenges to complete. Crysis 3 multiplayer also contains exciting new gameplay features including Rip & Throw, which allows players to interact with the elements of the environment to use as weapons or shields as well as the chance to control the Pinger, a fearsome alien tripod war machine that can be used to devastating effect.

Steamships Ahoy - Strike Suit Zero

The Strike Suit Zero Website announces that Strike Suit Zero is now available on Steam, offering the chance to play Born Ready Games' transformery space action game. The game is on sale for 20% off, and the announcement also includes word to expect OS X and Linux versions later this year. The update also has details on how Kickstarter backers can collect their copies, and word for those whose confirmation emails with missing codes that this is all being sorted now. Here's word on the game:

Strike Suit Zero promises to delight fans, due largely to the fantastic talent on board its development team. The game features jaw-droppingly detailed mecha and spaceship designs by renowned mecha designer Junji Okubo (Steel Battalion, Appleseed), and a wonderfully atmospheric score created by Paul Ruskay (Homeworld) and Kokia (Tales of Innocence, Origins: Spirits Of The Past),

With Oculus Rift support planned for later in the year, Strike Suit Zero is set to be one of the most exciting gaming projects of 2013.

Steamships Ahoy - Defense Grid: Containment

Steam News announces the release of Defense Grid: Containment, new DLC for Defense Grid: The Awakening, Hidden Path Entertainment's tower-defense game. This coincides with a 50% off sale on the game and its previous DLC as well as the release of a free map pack. Here's word:

Defense Grid: Containment is the all-new expansion to the award-winning tower defense game: Defense Grid: The Awakening. The Containment DLC provides players with many hours of new content including 8 new maps, a new story, two new characters (voiced by Firefly’s Alan Tudyk and E.R.’s Ming-Na Wen), and 32 new challenge modes. Containment’s story line picks up right where The Awakening left off, and leads the player on a new adventure that opens up exciting future possibilities as well.

Defense Grid: The Awakening is also releasing 4 new maps designed and chosen by community backers for free! The new maps can be accessed by registering your email from the Community Level Campaign in Defense Grid: The Awakening.

To celebrate the launch of the Containment DLC and Community Levels DLC, Defense Grid: The Awakening is 50% off and all previous DLC is 25% off!*

*Offer ends January 30th at 10AM Pacific Time

War of the Roses Free DLC

Paradox Interactive announces the release of the Gallowglass Mercenary Pack, a new free automatic update for War of the Roses that adds some medieval Scottish units to the melee action game. This trailer shows off the pack, and here's word:

Covered in mail and ready to cut down Englishmen for cold hard coin, the Scottish Gallowglass mercenaries brought brute force and fighting spirit to the battlefields like none could. Now is your chance to become one of them, with the Gallowglass mercenary gear pack, which includes the Gallowglass mail armor and helmet. Two new axes are also available to wield, along with the deadly Halflang Sword, ready and able to slay any Englishman in its path.

MechWarrior Online Gets New Mech and More Bitching

Infinite Game Publishing and Piranha Games announce the release of a new Death’s Knell mech in the store in MechWarrior Online. They also have expanded the role of the voice of Bitching Betty by returning the game's original startup sequence: "Reactor Online. Sensors Online. Weapons Online. All Systems Nominal." Details on the new mech are on this page, and this video shows the startup sequence.

Battle Academy: Operation Husky Announced

Matrix Games announces Battle Academy: Operation Husky, saying this expansion for their strategy game is imminent, and that they are seeking beta testers. Here's word:

We are excited to announce the imminent release of Battle Academy: Operation Husky. This new expansion covers the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, which began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended 17 August, adding extra Axis and Allies units and a brand new Sicilian terrain set.

Slitherine is looking for beta testers for the PC version of this Battle Academy expansion. To sign up for the beta head to Slitherine’s beta signup page and submit your application!

The Old Republic Rise of the Hutt Preorders; Trailer

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website has a new trailer showing off the upcoming Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion for the Star Wars MMORPG. They also announce the pack is now available for preorder, carrying the following incentives for the advance commitment:

  • The Dr. Oggurobb Hutt Holostatue: Train under the illustrious Hutt scientist Dr. Oggurobb with this portable training device that he created in his own image.
  • "Scourge of the Hutts" Title: Republic and Imperial forces that adorn this title will be revered across the galaxy.
  • The Makrin Seedling Mini-Pet: Get your very own Makrin Seedling to follow you around and creep out your enemies! Possessing bark-like skin and grass-like nerve-rich tissues that blend in perfectly with Makeb’s environment, the Makrin Seedling has a distinguishing and eerie look!

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Q&As

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: People vs. Winter. The bus!

THQ Sale Results?

Kotaku has what they say is the letter sent to all the (now former) staff of THQ by CEO Brian Farrell and president Jason Rubin. This outlines how some of the company's assets have been divided, noting that some properties remain unsold, including their publishing operation, Vigil, and some other IPs. Here are the details provided in the letter, which remain unconfirmed at the moment:

  • Yesterday morning, we received a competing bid for the operating business, along with Clearlake's offer, and numerous offers for separate assets.
  • During an auction process that lasted over 22 hours, the final conclusion was that the separate-asset bids would net more than a single buyer for the majority of the company.
  • Shortly, we will, present the results to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which must concur with our assessment.
  • The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows :
    • Sega agreed to purchase Relic
    • Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro
    • Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront
    • Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve and
    • Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park

Ships Ahoy - The Cave

SEGA announces The Cave is now open for exploration, as Double Fine's new underground adventure game is now available via digital distribution for Windows, Linux, OS X, Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo eShop. Here's what's going down:

SEGA® Europe Ltd. and SEGA® of America, Inc. in a partnership with award-winning independent developer Double Fine Productions, today announced the digital release of the new adventure game, The Cave™. The Cave is available now for download on the PlayStation®Network, the Nintendo eShop on Wii U™, Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and Steam™ (PC, Mac, Linux).

“The Cave invites gamers on an underground adventure, filled with challenging puzzles and Ron Gilbert’s signature wit,” said Chris Olson, Vice President of Digital Business at SEGA of America. “Our collaboration with Ron and Double Fine has been a thrilling experience and we’re extremely excited about the outcome.”

“Bringing The Cave to life has been something I’ve wanted to do for almost thirty years,” added creator Ron Gilbert. “Being able to work with the amazing creative team at Double Fine, and with the strong support of SEGA, I’ve been able to make a longtime pet project a reality.”

Named GameInformer’s Best Adventure Game and Best Downloadable 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 adventurers, each with their own unique personalities and stories, and then descend into the mysterious depths of The Cave.

For more information please visit: http://thecavegame.com/.

Diablo III PTR Updated

Blizzard offers an updated set of PTR patch notes for the upcoming version 1.07 update for Diablo III. There is one new achievement listed along with a number of bug fixes for the action/RPG sequel, including some with the Public Test Realm itself. Arguably most significant is the change so that players are considered "elites" within the game, which will impact certain item effects in PvP combat. Looking beyond the release of this new patch in the live version of the game, a forum post from a Community Manager says Blizzard is working to address player complaints that characters are merely the sum of their gear:

We know that (for many players) it’s much more rewarding to gear up from items that you find while playing normally than it is to necessarily go through Auction House, and we’re working to make improvements in that area. There are a lot of ways we could attempt to reach that goal, and choosing the best one(s) to go with is not always a fast process. I want to encourage you all to continue to post your thoughts on the subject and I promise we will keep reading and relaying them.

Scivelation Next Year [Updated]

The Scivelation Product Section (in German) has a new release date for Scivelation, saying the single-player third-person shooter from Black Wing Foundations is planned for release by the end of this next year for Windows and "next-gen." The game was announced as due in 2010, and German site GBase.ch suggests the game's new release window might be to allow it to use Epic's upcoming Unreal Engine 4, but this is purely speculative. Update: Corrected this to say next year, rather than this year. Apologies for the error and any ensuing confusion.

Ex-Relic Boss Joins Activision

Alex Peters has taken the position of VP of Production at Activision after serving as studio head at Relic for the previous two years. The new job is listed on his LinkedIn Profile as noted by Develop. This news comes amid the sale of THQs assets, which include Relic. Develop notes that SEGA is widely believed to be the frontrunner to purchase Relic, but we should know soon enough, as an announcement of the results of the sale of THQ's assets is expected today.

Crusader Kings II Linux Released

Following a tweet from Fredrik Wester last week to this effect, Paradox Interactive officially announces the release of a Linux edition of Crusader Kings II, their strategy/RPG sequel. Word is: "The critically acclaimed title is the first ever game from Paradox to be launched on the burgeoning platform, and plans to bring other titles to Linux in the future are in the works. Crusader Kings II for Linux is currently available on Steam." Paradox also plans a live stream at 2:00 pm EST today on Twitch where Project Lead Henrik Fårahues will be showing off the game's multiplayer support.

Amazon Adds Microtransactions

Amazon customers can now purchase virtual goods and in-game currency through their Amazon accounts, reports Joystiq. This page has details on how this will work, also outlining the financial split for Kindle Fire and Android apps, saying developers will keep 70% of microtransaction revenue, and that they are currently waiving the $99.00 per year fee for listing. They say Windows, OS X, and web-based game developers should contact them for details.

SimCity EULA to be Fixed

The SimCity Facebook Page has a follow up to the story we helped break on Sunday about worrisome language in the EULA for the upcoming SimCity reboot suggesting beta testers would lose access to all EA games for failing to report bugs in the beta (thanks Joe). Here's word:

Heads up, Mayors – it’s been brought to our attention that there’s been some confusion regarding the bug-reporting policy in the EA beta test agreement for SimCity.

Don’t worry – EA has never taken away access to a player’s games for failing to report a bug. In fact, we’re in the process of updating our agreement to make this point clear before the beta starts this Friday. If you have any more questions, read our FAQ: http://bit.ly/UCpuAA

Hope to see you in the beta Friday!

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Footage

A new trailer includes some footage of single-player play in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the upcoming expansion for StarCraft II, Blizzard's RTS sequel. Thanks Blizzplanet, where word is: "The B-roll shows all the new playable units in the expansion: 3D model and their abilities in action through gameplay clips. New Battle.net UI and features." Continue here to read the full story.

Cognition Episode 2 Trailer

This new trailer for Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller sets the stage for The Wise Monkey, episode two in Phoenix Online's adventure series, by catching us up on the events in episode one. Here's word: "FBI agent Erica Reed has an advantage when it comes to tracking a killer: an unusual set of post-cognitive abilities that help her sense how a crime unfolded. She also has a score to settle with the serial killer who took her brother's life three years ago. But vengeance takes a backseat in Episode 2: The Wise Monkey, when Agent Reed's fellow bureau members become targets. Can she find a deranged killer before it's too late, or is it just a matter of time before Erica herself falls victim to The Wise Monkey?" The developers plan a preview stream of episode two on Sunday at 7:30 pm EST on this fan's YouTube channel and they will hold an online launch party on their own YouTube channel one week from today on January 30th starting at 4:00 pm EST, and story consultant Jane Jensen is expected to attend. Continue here to read the full story.

Grand Theft Auto IV Event Friday

Rockstar Games announces a double live-streaming Social Club Multiplayer Event in Grand Theft Auto IV for three hours on Friday, offering prizes for participants:

This Friday January 25th, 11am-2pm EST / 4-7pm GMT, our latest live-streaming Social Club Multiplayer Event invades Liberty City for three hours of melees, mayhem, and mischief in Grand Theft Auto IV. Come look for our dev players in-game on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, or tune in to our double live-stream on the Social Club Multiplayer Events page. There you'll also find our Rockstar-hosted Social Club chat and the chance to win one of ten GTAV prize packs, each including the GTAV Logo Tee, GTAV Tee, and GTAV and Rockstar logo stickers, in our giveaway.

We'll play a mix of original GTAIV modes, as well as The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony multiplayer modes, and you don't need to own the Complete Edition to play in the event - you can join us whenever we're playing a mode that you have. Our devs will clear their friends lists beforehand, and you can enter the giveaway on this page under the Sweepstakes Entry tab.

Two of our devs will be streaming their GTAIV gameplay live on the Social Club Multiplayer Event page with a live chat, and a third video stream will run on our Rockstar Twitch page with a second hosted chatroom.

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

I may be losing out in my literal cold war with MrsBlue over grilling rights. You may recall I am attempting a strike to gain the right to put my man-stove on the deck for general convenience, but in particular to be more accommodating in the winter. She's holding firm on her resolve, and I may be the first one to blink on this and resume using the grill where it is before the spring breaks. I feel so weak.

Weak Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Battle for Darkness.
Stories: Voice of Charlie Brown arrested in California on stalking, other charges.
Science: Iron Man to Batman: The future of soldier suits. Thanks brother19.
Robot Serves Up 360 Hamburgers Per Hour. Thanks Slashdot.
What holds energy tech back? The infernal battery.
Media: The Portal Turret Song.
Honest Trailers - (Indiana Jones & The Crystal Skull).
Watch A Biplane Nearly Decapitate Two People. Thanks nin.
The Funnies: xkcd: Home Alone.
Follow-up: Manti Te'o Tells Katie Couric He Briefly Lied About Girlfriend After Hoax Discovery.



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